Browsing Category: Past Productions

Get Your Folk On…A Reunion Concert, a night of memories!

folk on

The Theater League of Clifton (TLC) sponsored “Get Your Folk On…A Reunion Concert,” which was held at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Clifton on Sept. 28. An audience of about 100 fans turned out for an enjoyable evening of acoustic tunes and old favorites. A sentimental moment during the program came when Dante Liberti (second from right), a member of the executive board of TLC and one of the organizers of the event, presented flowers to Marlene Marlene Zschack. Marlene’s husband, the late Bob Zschack, a former Clifton High School teacher, served as the master of ceremonies for the Woodrow Wilson folk concerts during the 1960s and 1970s. Pictured at the event are (left to right) Matt Zschak (Marlene’s son); Marlene Zschack; Dante Liberti and Frank Rainey. Rainey, a music teacher in the Clifton school system for many years, is acknowledged as the “father” of the Woodrow Wilson folk music ensembles, and directed the Sept. 28 concert. He and Liberti also performed during the show

Get Your Folk On…. A Reunion Concert , sponsored by TLC

Come Join us September 28th for….


A tradition for a decade between the mid 1960’s and 1970’s, Clifton, NJ folk concerts were held to celebrate student musical creativity. Initiated by Frank Rainey and his several singing ensembles, these events were enjoyed by students, parents and patrons alike. From classic folk tunes to – at the time – current acoustic hits, these concerts covered it all.

It was a special time for these performers and their mentors, and we want to do it again! This time, we’ll be joined by current student artists and pulling together featured performers from those formative years.

Come celebrate with us on September 28, 7pm at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School Courtyard in Clifton!
$8 in Advance – $10 at the door
Advance tickets available on our tickets tab

folk concert

Our 10th Anniversary Gala & Show

Coming up at the Clifton Arts Center December 5th & 6th, celebrating the 10th Anniversary performance of “Waiting for Christmas” – Sponsored by Clifton Savings Bank

We have once again partnered with the Clifton Arts Center to provide cultural entertainment to the city of Clifton – in a 3rd annual joint fundraising event. “Waiting for Christmas” is written and directed by Kirk Woodward with Barbara Novak as Musical Director. This gala event, sponsored by Clifton Savings Bank, will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our first show in Clifton with five lively stories and bright holiday songs! Guests will also enjoy wine, beer and hot & cold hors d’oeuvres.

This is a once-a-year joint venture from two organizations dedicated to the Arts – show your support and join the fun!

Felipe Rodriguez, Greg Gwyn, Producer John Traier, Stage Manager Mark Peterson, Musical Director Barbara Novak, Director Kirk Woodward, Craig Ernest Woodward and Becky Shuster.
Felipe Rodriguez, Greg Gwyn, Producer John Traier, Stage Manager Mark Peterson, Musical Director Barbara Novak, Director Kirk Woodward, Craig Ernest Woodward and Becky Shuster.

John Traier is Producer with Mark Peterson as Stage Manager. The cast includes Felipe Rodriguez and Greg Gwyn of Clifton, Becky Shuster of Basking Ridge and Craig Ernest Woodward of Little Falls.

Two performances of Waiting for Christmas are available. Saturday December 5th 7:00pm for the Gala Reception & Show and Sunday December 6th 3:30pm for the Show Only at the Clifton Arts Center on Well Road in the Clifton City Hall complex at 900 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. The Sunday performance is timed to end prior to the Clifton Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at City Hall at 6pm.

Tickets to the Gala Anniversary Reception & Show on Dec. 5th are $55.00 per person (adults only) and include wine/beer and Hors d’Oeuvres catered by Nightingale Catering and Valley Liquors. Show-only tickets on Dec. 6th are $10.00 / adults with children under 12 welcome for free! Seating is limited, so please purchase your tickets by Nov. 30th.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Dazzles on Opening Night

NOVEMBER 13, 2015 By Michael Gabriele, Clifton Journal

Little Shop of Horrors, Opening Night at the Aprea Theater in Clifton, NJ.
Little Shop of Horrors, Opening Night at the Aprea Theater in Clifton, NJ.
CLIFTON — So you’ve heard about unsung heroes? Well, “Little Shop of Horrors,” the fiendishly freaky rock and roll musical presented by the Theater League of Clifton, which opened Nov. 6 at the Aprea Theater, was packed with a heroic cast of dazzling singers, and they all sang magnificently.Director Bill Kaufman, musical director Jalmari Vanamo, and choreographer Judi Layne Niebuhr must be applauded for putting together a top-flight ensemble of vocalists and dancers. The show flowed smoothly, shaking, rattling and rolling every step of the way. The players, quite obviously, were having a blast on stage.The Theater League of Clifton’s cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” on opening night at the Aprea Theater. The show continues on Nov. 13, Nov. 14 and a matinee on Nov. 15.
There were impressive solo numbers on display, but even more impressive was how the cast functioned as a synchronized team, complementing each other in song, dance and humorous situations. When a cast like this makes it look easy, that’s a clear indication of the long hours and hard work that went into the show prior to opening night — a credit shared by the leadership of Kaufman, Vanamo and Niebuhr.The fun started right from the prologue, which was performed by Victoria Webb, Nadiya Braham and Amaya White. This trio was on target in every number as they appeared throughout the show and set the bar high, in terms of singing quality. The rest of the cast rose to the occasion and followed suit. White, a freshman at Old Bridge High School, the winner of the 2015 Perry Award for Outstanding Youth Actress in the Main Street Theater Company’s production of “The Wiz,” was especially delightful. The cast names of the trio — Chiffon, Crystal and Ronnette — are an homage to the “wall of sound” girl groups from the 1960s.

Eden Casalino in the role of the slinky, sultry Audrey demonstrated her impressive range as a singer. Casalino belted out tunes with a beautiful, soaring voice that, no doubt, rattled windows in the Delawanna section of town last Friday night, but then she had the artistic skill to flip a switch and change the mood to an intimate, sweet ballad. The “moment” in the performance came in Act 1 when Casalino sang “Somewhere That’s Green.” She was absolutely sensational.

George Adamo as Seymour
George Adamo as Seymour

George Adamo may have looked nerdy and awkward as Seymour Krelborn, but there was no hiding the fact that he too was a superior vocalist. Adamo breathed life into the character of the tormented, love-sick Seymour, right down to his crooked bow tie and goofy baseball cap. Adamo’s exuberant singing, acting and quirky comedic charm powered the production. All of his talents were on display in Seymour’s “father and son” number with Mr. Mushnik (Frank Favata) — a wacky duet that tickled the audience. Patrons may have noticed that, in this scene, Favata cleverly drew inspiration from his successful role as Tevye in the Theater League’s 2014 production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Who was the most macabre, diabolical performer of the night? That’s easy: Michael Smith-Gallo as the sinister Orin. Smith-Gallo, clad in a black leather jacket, relished every minute of his role as the demented dentist, with an evil laugh — just as haunting as The Shadow — that gave everyone the creeps.

Audrey II, designed by artist Julie Chrobak
Audrey II, designed by artist Julie Chrobak

And then there was “the elephant in the room,” otherwise known as Audrey II, the monstrous, bloodthirsty plant in Mushnik’s little florist shop of horrors. This wonderful contraption, a most terrifying work of art, was the handiwork of puppet designer and builder Julie Chrobak and Kurt Irizarry. There were actually four versions of Audrey II, as the plant became larger and more menacing. Chrobak was in the audience last Friday night, keeping a low profile, but watching every detail of Audrey II’s mechanics and features like a nervous stage mom.

Interviewed prior to opening night of the show, Chrobak used her creative talents to design and fabricate the iterations of Audrey II, following cues from the script and using visual references from past productions of the show. The final version of the plant was a grand puppet manufactured with an aluminum skeleton, which was welded by Irizarry. As a puppet designer, she confessed to being an “old school” engineer, with no fancy 3D computer models. Instead, she used good old-fashioned pencil and paper, scissors and adhesive, and made many trips to Home Depot to procure plant pots, fabric, foam, tubing and wire.

A graduate of Montclair State University, with a master’s degree in Art Education, Chrobak worked as a scenic artist on Broadway for 20 years. She’s now an art teacher at Clifton High School.  Irizarry not only served as the welder, he also was the Audrey II puppeteer. His partner in crime was Craig Ernest Woodward, who was the solid, off-stage singing voice of the monster plant. Other ensemble members of the cast included Kenneth Fowler, Gregory Gwyn, Erin Pach and Rebecca Shuster.

IMG_3014As for the show’s impressive technical elements, Kurt and Maryann Irizarry get rave reviews for set design, construction and decoration, along with build assistants Joe Cisneros, Ayana Ayscue and Michael Purdy. Maryann Irizarry also served as the show’s producer and was in charge of costumes. Two thumbs up go to Tom Vigilante for his artistic lighting design, especially the illumination of the background city skyline. Tara Freifeld was the stage manager, assisted by Devin Sogluizzo. Kyle Parkin was the sound designer and technical director, assisted by Ryan Sogluizzo. Bravo to the show’s rockin’ pit band quartet of Paul Liberti, Steve Bell, Eric Borghi and Vanamo.

Little Shop of Horrors Features Award-winning NJ Actress

Opening Nov. 6th – Tickets on Sale Now!

This Cult Class achieved success on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in the movies – and we know you’ll love it too!

2015 perry awardThe cast includes Amaya White, Winner of the 2015 Perry Award for Outstanding Youth Actress in a Musical for her performance in The Wiz with the Main Street Theater Company, as well as many other talented TLC alumni and new faces: George Adamo of Cedar Grove, Nadiya Braham of Hackensack,  Eden Casalino of Jersey City,  Frank Favata of North Arlington,  Kenneth Fowler, Gregory Gwyn and Kurt Irizarry of Clifton,  Erin Pach of Bloomfield, Rebecca Shuster of Basking Ridge, Michael Smith-Gallo of Montclair,  Victoria Webb of Union, Amaya White of Old Bridge and Craig Ernest Woodward of Little Falls.Little Shop is directed by Bill Kaufman a veteran community theater director of over 100 productions in the Tri-State area.  Bill, and Choreographer Judi Niebuhr, join the TLC team from “Fiddler On The Roof” including Musical Director Jalmari Vanamo, Producer Maryann Irizarry, Lighting Designer Tom Vigilante, Set Designer Kurt Irizarry, Technical Lead Kyle Parkin and Stage Manager Tara Freifeld. Presented through special arrangement with Musical Theater International (MTI). Book & Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Music by Alan Menken.

This show will also feature a fully functioning, one-of-a-kind Audrey II character, designed by local artist Julie Chrobak, built and operated by Kurt Irizarry – don’t miss it!