9/29/2008 - HCAC: 4 New Homegrown Plays and "War of the Worlds"


Teaneck New Theatre (TNT)­­—in association­­ with The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center (HCAC)—gets in synch with Halloween by presenting the Mercury Theatre on the Air Presentation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, radio adaptation by Howard Koch. Ridgefield resident Dominick di Rienzi wrote the pre- and post-broadcast segments. Gregory Liosi of Hackensack directs the production, the fourth outing of TNT’s 22nd season. War of the Worlds is being presented at HCAC, 39 Broadway, Hackensack, from October 17-November 2 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Of the many dates that have gone down in history, October 30, 1938 did so for a more unusual reason than most. When CBS originally aired Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre on the Air production of War of the Worlds that October day, listeners panicked because they were convinced it was an authentic news broadcast and Martians actually were invading Earth. Fast forward 70 years to October 2008. That’s when TNT presents excerpts from that unforgettable broadcast, along with a fictional account of the operations of the radio studio and the personal stories of the actors and technicians working on the show.

Dominick di Rienzi, who wrote the backstage segments, has had more than 30 years experience as a scenic artist, working professionally for the Metropolitan Opera, on countless Broadway productions and in film. He has also served as scenic artist for several TNT productions. Dominick jokes that his fascination with science fiction might be attributed to his mother being pregnant with him when War of the Worlds originally aired. He heard a CD of that broad cast a year ago and realized it could be done as a theatre piece. “All I needed was an introduction to the characters and an aftermath in the studio,” Dominick says. “Then I could sandwich the broadcast in between and have a stage play.” He approached TNT with his idea because “this is a theatre group willing to take chances. Now here we are set to go with a fine cast led by director Greg Liosi.”

Among Liosi’s numerous directing credits are Man of La Mancha and Breaking Legs for TNT. Greg is arts director for The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center and The City of Hackensack, where he produces a three-month Shakespeare in the Park festival, a summer concert series, facilitates four resident theatre companies and 60-70 arts events a year. Greg is a member of The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC).

Orson Welles is played by Kearny resident John Dunphy. Diana Bourbon, who keeps an eye on Orson, is Lisa Garrabrant of Little Falls. Sound effects master Harry is New Milford’s Harry Bates. Barbara, singer and radio actor, is Barbara Pernetti of Saddle Brook. Sound assistant Frank is Frank McDonnell of River Edge. Fran, singer and radio actor, is Carlstadt resident Fran Casella. Neil, a radio actor, is Neil Kahn of Maywood. Another radio actor is Chris Sienkiewicz of Rutherford. George, the announcer, is North Arlington’s Ray Parker. Singer and stage manager is Hunter Lerma of Bergenfield. The telephone operator is Union City resident Beatriz Esteban-Messina. Another radio announcer is Andy Garcia of North Bergen. Eva Piccioni serves as stage manager.

Tickets for War of the Worlds are $15, $12 for students and seniors, and $10 for theatre parties of 10 or more. For reservations and information, call TNT at (201) 692-0200. To get directions to the theatre, visit TNT’s web site at www.go-tnt.org. For online credit card ticket purchases, go to www.theatermania.com.

Next from TNT: A broadcast of “On A Country Road,” an episode of the 1940-50s radio show Suspense, airs Sunday, December 7 from 8:00-8:30 a.m. on the Fairleigh Dickinson radio station WFDU (89.1). Onstage in February 2009: A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters.


New Jersey Dramatists in association with The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center (HCAC) presents "Homegrown": staged readings of four new plays by local writers. Plays to be performed include "Nice Guy!" by Pete Ernst

(Palisades Park) on Tues. Oct 21st, "Landlocked" by Stephanie Griffin (Glen Rock) on Wed. Oct 22nd, "The Secret Life of Seagulls" by Henry Meyerson (Hoboken) on Tues. October 28th, and "To Miss New Orleans" by Jewel Seehaus-Fisher (Highland Park) on Wed. Oct. 29th.

All performances at 8pm. Admission free. For more information, including descriptions of the plays and directions, visit www.njdramatists.org or call 201-708-6535.