Getting Ready for The Heiress

Center Players is working overtime getting ready for our upcoming production, The Heiress. Here’s a preview of the press release we are about to send to the media:

Center Players presents The Heiress April 29-June 5

Production showcases extravagant period costumes and antiques onstage

Freehold, New Jersey, April 10, 2011— Center Players tackles a production that is rarely performed in community theaters. The Heiress is often performed on professional stages because the play is richly written and contains an intriguing plot that captivates audiences. However, the play takes place in the1850s and most community or regional theaters do not have the resources such as period costumes, furniture and props, needed to effectively depict an affluent New York home in the Victorian era.

The Heiress, written by Augustus and Ruth Goetz, was loosely based on the Henry James novel Washington Square. A psychological drama of romance and betrayal on multiple levels, it was first produced on Broadway in 1947. Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar for her portrayal of Catherine in the 1949 film of the same name. The play tells the story of Catherine Sloper, a wealthy, shy and socially backward young woman who falls in love with a charming and worldly suitor, Morris Townsend. Catherine’s aunt encourages the match but her father, Dr. Austin Sloper believes that Morris may have ulterior motives in pursuing his daughter.

The play’s director, Bernice Garfield-Szita, fell in love with the movie at a young age and has been planning this production for many years. A collector of antiques, Ms. Garfield-Szita is incorporating some of her collection to be used as props and furnishings in the play. Over the last decade, Center Players has also amassed a collection of costumes that will be modified to emulate Victorian dress. “We could not have produced The Heiress in the early days of Center Players,” remarks Ms. Garfield-Szita. “We had to wait until the theater was well-established and had developed enough stage materials and costumes to do justice to this beautifully written period piece.”

Center Players’ production of The Heiress stars Lauren Valasa of Middletown as Catherine Sloper, Bill Lee of Belford as Dr. Austin Sloper, Anthony Greco as Morris Townsend, and Jill Zaitchick of Colts Neck as Mrs. Penniman. The stellar cast is rounded out with Carla Zackson-Heller (Union Beach) as Mrs. Almond, Sami DeSocio (Holmdel) as Maria, Annie Flanagan (Sayreville) as Mrs. Montgomery, Yvette Cataneo (Freehold) as Marian Almond and Zach Berman (Eatontown) as Arthur Townsend.

The Heiress opens at Center Playhouse on Friday, April 29th and runs for five weekends until Sunday, June 5th, with the exception of May 13-15. Please call 732-462-9093 for information about tickets and our dining packages with several fine restaurants within walking distance of our theater.

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