As a non-actress, but one who appreciates the talents of others, I invite you to follow my updates between now and October, when Bus Stop goes on stage at Center Playhouse. This fun series will give you an appreciation for the process of creating another terrific performance at this wonderful Downtown Freehold theater.
By chance, I happened on the first of at least two nights of auditions for the five male and three female parts in the play made famous on screen by Marilyn Monroe. Eight women and one man tried out that evening at the South Street theater. Director Jeff Caplan has directed two other plays here and starred in another half dozen or more. I vividly remember his excellent performances in Doubt and All My Sons.
Although they arrived at the auditions with a single role in mind, Jeff graciously invited the actors to try out for any role that might interest them. Jeff proved to be an easy-going director who makes his actors feel comfortable and free to pour their own personalities into the roles. He gently guided them into different portrayals, for instance “Do it again, this time with more energy” and “She has feelings for the younger girl; I’d like to see a little bit of that.”
Tracy, an attractive young mother of four youngsters under six years of age, was trying out for the first time at this theater, although she has acted in New York and appeared in soap operas on television. She looks to acting as “needed escape” from the real pressures of her everyday life, which include working part-time and raising her children. Tracy felt comfortable with her portrayal of her character and is anxiously waiting for Wednesday, when Jeff promised to call her if she was selected.
Joseph was also at his first audition at Center Players, having recently acted in a Shakespearean play at Brookdale Community College. The college experience has changed his entire life and career goal, he laughed, noting it was a mentor there as well as an acting class he thoroughly enjoyed that convinced him he really wants to “stick with anything in the acting world.” He, too, felt comfortable about his portrayal of the male lead in Bus Stop.
Only one actor at Sunday’s casting session auditioned for two roles, both the lead and the more mature waitress at the Bus Stop restaurant. Having acted in high school and college productions and seen the film, she decided to try out as a break from her day-time position as a paralegal. Although she would love to be selected for either of the two roles, she readily admitted she preferred the waitress role because “I would be portraying one more my actual age.”
The second casting session will be held Tuesday evening, for which Jeff has sent out an e-mail blast, Facebook announcements, and posted notices on NJ Theater and Theater Auditions sites on Facebook, inviting anyone interested to come and tryout. Jeff will definitely make his final decisions by next week. Supposing no one auditions who he feels is perfect for one of the roles? The easy-going actor/director isn’t concerned. “I’ll call some other actors I know to see if they’re interested and just hadn’t heard of these auditions. We’ll get all our roles filled,” he smiled.
I am looking forward to following the entire process: attending the second round of auditions, hearing who gets each of the roles, seeing some of the rehearsals, and attending the dress rehearsal. Then, when I purchase my tickets for opening night of the October production, I will have an entirely new and deeper appreciation for what it takes to put on a play in a small theater in Downtown Freehold.
Bus Stop, written by William Inge and directed by Jeff Caplan, opens at Center Playhouse, 35 South Street in downtown Freehold, on October 10th and runs for five weekends through November 9th, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There will be no performance on Halloween 10/31. There will be an additional Matinee performance on Saturday November 1st at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $25 for Adults and $23 for Seniors & Students and includes gourmet desserts and refreshments. Group rates for parties of ten or more are available. Seating is limited so call the box office at (732) 462-9093 or visit us online at www.CenterPlayers.org to purchase your tickets.
Muriel Smith is a guest blogger for Center Players. She grew up in Union, NJ and lived in Highlands for more than 40 years, working as a newspaper writer/editor before leaving home with her husband 15 years ago to live in an RV and visit every state in the Union before determining that Monmouth County is still the best place to live. She’s now settled comfortably in Freehold.