NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: SPECIAL COMEDY COMING ATTRACTION: May 17th, Mike Marino, Sunda Croonquist, Michael ‘Wheels’ Parise and hosted by Ronnie Marmo. Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway NJ By Calvin Schwartz(1)
NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: SPECIAL COMEDY COMING ATTRACTION: May 17th, Mike Marino, Sunda Croonquist, Michael ‘Wheels’ Parise and hosted by Ronnie Marmo. Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway NJ By Calvin Schwartz
THIS JUST IN: The entire concert cast (Mike Marino, Sunda Croonquist, Ronnie Marmo, Michael Parise) and Cylk Cozart will be in New Jersey a week before the May 17th concert shooting a TV pilot called “Reconstructing Jersey” which is the story of Mike Marino growing up in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. April 30th 2014
Let me share the reasons why you all should catch this very special night of comedy. This event is celestial with the perfect alignment of the moon, earth, stars and Garden State Parkway which helps you to get to Rahway and this special comedy show.
Website for tickets and info: www.ucpac.org
Perhaps the best way to begin a serious comedy announcement/article (oxymoron?) is to credential myself in order to strive for the utmost credibility with a growing global readership. So here goes. Back in the late 1960’s (it was so late, the summer of 1971 slipped in quietly) the Broadway play ‘Lenny’ opened to critical acclaim. Being a recent college graduate, I needed to expand my cultural horizons and saw the play and in the process discovered the genius of comedian Lenny Bruce, who thereafter set my standard of excellence in social contemporary comedy. Then 41 years later (2012), almost to the day, I discovered the genius of comedian Mike Marino in Asbury Park, a mere 55.8 miles from where I saw ‘Lenny’. Mike was performing at the first Asbury Park Comedy Festival.
Why I mention Lenny Bruce is my metamorphosis (since buying all his vinyl albums) into a 6’5” comedic snob. I need sharp incisive cerebral worldly comedy to laugh. Mike delivers that. And concomitantly (along the way), I’ve become a huge fan of Mike Marino. Why not; I love to laugh for 90 minutes straight each and every time I see him; it’s this stressful world we live in. Mike has a handle, a release and grasp of our world
The genius of Marino’s humor is to take our modern (expletive omitted) lives and shove it under a comedic microscope. And when you see him in concert, you get a chance to see the ‘Marino’ face; how he loves to laugh with the audience at his own humor; that genuineness and warmth draws us in and embraces. Even more than that, being a comedic snob, countless times looking at Mike, I can’t help but see Jack Benny, who had one of the greatest comedic facial expressions as well as incredible timing. Benny was Johnny Carson’s all-time favorite; Mike Marino’s expressions and timing is right there with Jack Benny.
Then last summer, I had the opportunity (which became a thrill) to see Sunda Croonquist perform at the Second Annual Asbury Park Comedy Fest. Sunda dazzled with her sharp, quick wit (cerebral intelligent humor) and I got a chance to chat with her back stage. Sunda’s humor is rare, precious and beautiful as she is. What’s particularly meaningful for me as a comedic snob is Sunda’a ability to reach (in an extremely personal way) every single person in the audience. Hemingway wrote effectively because he lived each and every story. He drove an ambulance in World War I and then wrote ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ about an ambulance driver.
So what does this Hemingway reference have to do with Sunda Croonquist? Of course I should (and will) emphasize you need to be there at the May 17th concert to absorb the humor of Sunda. Shortly into her act, you’ll understand how she so effectively and personally reaches you (makes you identify) She’s this dynamo of personality and like the Hemingway of comedy(she constructs comedy from her so many varied viewpoints of life) just made this up because I saw her last summer and I get it.
This is pretty cool and right out of my synchronistic spiritual world remembering I’m writing about this comedy show on May 17th and in the first paragraph here, I made reference to my attachment to Lenny Bruce. Well Ronnie Marmo is the host of this comedy evening. He’s quite an impressive producer, actor, and writer. A few years ago The Edison Valley Playhouse staged the one man show “Lenny Bruce is Back (and boy is he pissed).” Of course Ronnie Marmo had the lead in the play and of course I sat in the fifth row and I was riveted by his acting and the play and now I get a chance to see him again. Synchronicity is alive and well.
I have not had the pleasure to catch Michael ‘Wheels’ Parise in concert yet. May 17th will be my first exposure and I’m hugely looking forward. Michael is a comedic pioneer going back to his touring with one of the most controversial comedians of the day, Andrew Dice Clay.
The preceding paragraphs help to answer and expound on my original statement; let me share the reasons why you all should join us on May 17th at the Union County Performing Arts Center for a very funny night.
CALVIN SCHWARTZ April 29, 2014
Mike Marino BIO:
Mike Marino – affectionately known to thousands of his fans as New Jersey’s Bad Boy – is one of the most unique comics of our time. He has performed in every major comedy club from New York to Los Angeles including: The MGM Grand, Catch a Rising Star, The Comic Strip, Stand Up NY, The Improv, Rascals and The Icehouse. Mike, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, can be seen nightly as a top headliner at both the world famous Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store in Hollywood.
Mike was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He entered the world of theatre at an early age, and is a graduate of the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Mike has appeared in over 200 national television commercials, and has received a Best Actor Clio Award Nomination. He has acted in many Prime Time soaps and television shows including: As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Becker, Nikki, Frasier and Party of Five. His film credits include Crooks, Pizza with Bullets, Hangin’ in Hedo and Steven King’s Lucky Quarter
Sunda Croonquist BIO
At a chance encounter in New York City, Croonquist was joking around at a party when she met Jackie Mason, who told her to seriously consider doing stand-up comedy and with her husband’s encouragement, took a comedy class and had her first paid gig within weeks. Her first performance was at a club called Don’t Tell Mama.
Croonquist has produced her own comedy shows including: “Femmes Fatales” one of the longest running female comedy showcases for NY’s Toyota Comedy Festival for eight years. She is also the Chairperson for the Annual “Laugh Off”, an event that brings awareness to Gilda’s Club in Northern New Jersey. This is a cancer support group that was formed by comedian Gilda Radner.
Ronnie Marmo BIO
Ronnie has produced 30+ stage plays including the critically acclaimed Bill W and Dr. Bob (which has enjoyed hundreds sold out performances over the last nine years, West of Brooklyn with Jerry Ferrara, Bent with Tyler Christopher, What the Rabbi Saw with Eva Longoria, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Subway Series.
Ronnie’s feature films include West of Brooklyn with Joe Mantegna (available on DVD), Limbo Lounge with Tamara Braun, Fish Without A Bicycle with Brian Austin Green, and Another Happy Ending. He also starred in the short film, Stage 4, filmed at Theatre 68.
Some of the plays Ronnie has directed include Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love, Sex and the IRS, 68 Minutes, Saint Nick, Something About Something That Means Something, Life in Session, Resting In Pieces, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Subway Series.
Ronnie has guest starred on Jag and Young and the Restless. He enjoyed a three-year run on ABC’s General Hospital in the role of Ronnie Domestico.
He has also starred in over 30 stage plays including two six-month runs of the one man show Lenny Bruce is Back (and boy is he pissed). He toured with the Broadway National touring company as Tony/Barry in Tony and Tina’s Wedding.
Michael ‘Wheels’ Parise BIO
25 year veteran comedian Michael Wheels Parise. ‘Wheels’ has been the opening act for Andrew Dice Clay for over 20 years stemming from their Brooklyn days back at Pips Comedy Club on Emmons ave in Sheepheads Bay.as well as numerous appearances on HBO, and Late Night Talk Shows. Wheels has starred in movies such as “Meet Wally Sparks” with Rodney Dangerfield as and “A Low Down Dirty Shame” with Keenan Ivory Wayans and Jada Pinkett Smith, just to name a few.
Wheels Also Costarred in a VH-! Reality Show called “Dice Undisputed” with Andrew Dice Clay in 2008. After spending 20 years in Hollywood California at the World Famous Comedy Store as a house favorite, he decided to make Las Vegas his new home with his family. Still having a passion for comedy and acting he decided to bring his act to Vegas and can be seen headlining all the clubs Las Vegas as well as all over the country.
Michael Wheels Parise just launched “Parise Group Productions”, a production company/marketing group. PGP Studio is located at 2790 East Flamingo Rd. Ste F Las Vegas Nevada, 89121. PGP is currently seeking podcast productions and video productions to be produced on location.
Michael Wheels Parise has been a comedian for over 25 years, most of those years, touring with the most controversial comedian of our time, Andrew Dice Clay. Starting in the comedy trenches in New York to becoming a International favorite as well at the # 1 comedy club in The world, the Comedy Store in Los Angeles CA. Wheels had one thing on his mind “Making it”. Now is his time!
DANNY COLEMAN from ‘ROCK ON RADIO’ and ‘THE TRENTONIAN’ (A Review) ‘Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show’, “Himself and Nora” at Union County Performing Arts May 6, 2013(0)
DANNY COLEMAN from ‘ROCK ON RADIO’ and ‘THE TRENTONIAN’ (A Review) “Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show, “Himself and Nora” May 6, 2013
As the wide world of NJ Discover expands its range, coverage and commitment to elevation of the people and places in our state, from time to time we’d like to welcome contributors to our website. And most appropriately our first such guest writer is Danny Coleman. Why appropriate? Last summer, I visited Danny Coleman’s Rock on Radio Show and wrote about that adventure. Here’s the link to article:
Danny is the quintessential radio host and disc jockey at Rock on Radio as well as entertainment writer for ‘The Trentonian.’ I’ve been to several of his live radio shows and marvel at his versatility and depth. And he’s just a lot of purist fun to be around. We spoke the other day. He was thrilled to cover Matt Bogart’s (from ‘Jersey Boys’) appearance at the Union County Performing Arts Center performance in ‘Himself and Nora.’ And we decided to spread the word here about Matt Bogart and his great show. Here’s Danny’s article from ‘The Trentonian.’ Calvin Schwartz
Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show, “Himself and Nora” By Danny Coleman For The Trentonian
Sometimes I get an opportunity to interview someone that I just can’t pass up. Such is the case with this week’s subject, Matt Bogart. Some of you who have seen the Broadway play “Jersey Boys” may know him better from the role that he portrays in that production; that of the Four Seasons “Nick Massi the bass player.”
Bogart is taking a three week break from the bright lights of Broadway to star in the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage musical production of “Himself And Nora.” Bogart plays the lead role of “Himself” a.k.a. Irish novelist James Joyce, whose drinking binges and rough style, along with his twenty nine year relationship with his chamber maid Nora Barnacle, led to his/their exile from Ireland and “condemnation of the Catholic church.”
Jessica Burrows plays the role of Nora, Joyce’s chamber maid, partner, lover and inspiration for nearly three decades. The play, the work of composer/writer Jonathan Brielle is directed by Michael Bush and has been so well received that “Talk Entertainment” called it, “exciting and truly an affair to remember!”
Bogart, who has been acting since high school, is the married father of two young children, one of the stars of “Jersey Boys” and a twenty year veteran of the stage. He has appeared in “Miss Saigon” as well as numerous other productions and is very excited about his latest undertaking, “I’ve been doing “Jersey Boys” since 2008, I’ve raised my family on it; it’s kind of like “Goodfellas” the musical (laughs). This, I think that this show is very special to me, it’s a challenging role. We are so glad to be bringing this to the stage. We’ve done it at the New York Theater Festival after we had first did a reading of it and five performances in Dublin Ireland. They don’t get musicals in Ireland that often so it went well, they were very interested in the form of it all. I really feel that this current production is the strongest adaptation yet.”
Calling “Himself And Nora” a “love story,” Bogart elaborated on his thoughts and what the audiences can expect once inside the theater. “To me, this is a love story. It’s a love story where the artist finds his inspiration through his lover, who is also his muse and becomes one of the greatest writers of all time. He (Joyce) found that the way she spoke and their interactions inspired and at times frustrated him but contributed to his writing. This is a musical, we dance a bit but not too much. It’s also the first show by the American Music Group in this brand new theater so we are all looking forward to it.”
Buoyed by the strength of the cast, writer and director, Bogart wasn’t looking ahead of this production’s current run when he spoke of his hopes for the future. “We are looking and hoping to move to Broadway,” he said. “I think it’s definitely ready. We’re currently looking for investors. This whole production has been great. The theater here in Rahway is modeling itself after the rebirth of Asbury Park, it’s remarkable. We have such a great cast, Jessica Burrows is a beautiful, incredible actress and with (Michael) Bush and Jonathan (Brielle) as the director and composer and writer; yes, I think it’s ready.”
Within that, Bogart seemed shocked that I admitted to having not seen “Jersey Boys” and he jokingly gave me some minor good natured ribbing. “You have to go see it,” he said. “It’s a great show, just don’t go in the next three weeks because I’ll be here; wait until I return, then come see it (laughs).”
“Himself And Nora” is currently running through May 12 at the Union County PAC on The Hamilton Stage located at 360 Hamilton Street Rahway. Ticket prices range from $30 for the Wed./Thurs. shows to $35 for Friday thru Sunday performances; students and seniors are only $20. To obtain more information and tickets, please go to www.ucpac.org .
Hey Charles Dickens (the writer), Willie Nile Band is Performing Live in Rahway, New Jersey Saturday Night January 26th By Calvin Schwartz(0)
Hey Charles Dickens (the writer), Willie Nile Band is Performing Live in Rahway, New Jersey Saturday Night January 26th By Calvin Schwartz
Suddenly last spring, I heard Willie Nile sing for the first time. In the scheme of eventualities of rock and roll music, “last spring” is not particularly one of those full lengths, long career, long time ago happenstances. Put another way, it wasn’t a long time ago. But you see; my journey into rock and roll music or any music for that matter began only a year ago. It’s like an old black and white movie with James Cagney climbing a tower, “Look Mah, I’m on top of the world.” And suddenly I am because it’s never too late for life events. So I’ve become a huge fan of Willie Nile and his band. And I can’t get enough. I’ve come to appreciate the joy of pure lyrics and rock music coming together (just like I’m also a huge fan of the Nick Clemons Band). Willie Nile electrifies and overwhelms. I find myself using the “damn” word every time I hear/see him live. “Damn, he’s so good. Damn, why’d I wait so long?”
It’s funny how you’re drawn into the aura, or a rabbit hole of discovery, or a ballistic epiphany. I discovered the joys of Willie Nile; an auditory gift to all of us and especially us North East folks living close to live gigs and Willie’s home geography. What I mean by the aforementioned two sentences is that I can’t believe I’ve become such a fan, so fast. But I have. I think sometimes I’m too old to be a rock and roll fan then I think about Ebeneezer Scrooge who thought he was too old to change. So I’m not too old, Charles Dickens. Some of my expressions and words may seem a trifle absurd. They are; maybe to make a point but it’s absurd if you care about music (any kind) and you don’t get a chance for Willie Nile live (or some digital music source of pure mountain running spring water and no plastic unrecyclable bottles)
The purpose of my words now is let you all know about a Willie Nile concert this Saturday in Rahway, New Jersey. Before the concert info, a little digression into a recent Willie Nile series of live sightings; actually exactly a week ago when I was with Willie at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park just as he was finishing a live interview on WCTC 1450 radio with Bert Baron as a prequel to Light of Day musical events over the weekend. Willie told me (we’ve done several photo ops together) that “I’m toasted. I just got back from Europe doing live gigs for Light of Day and last night I performed at Asbury Lanes to kick off Light of Day here.”
The setting was a relatively quiet empty surreal Stone Pony. Many musicians and Light of Day founder Bob Benjamin had gathered for the WCTC live radio broadcast for interviews. All of a sudden, I looked; Willie had sat down on top of a bar with a thousand guitars on the wall behind him. I took the picture and thought how wondrously synchronistic (one of my favorite words these days of discovery) because two of my all-time favorite songs (beating out ‘Puff- The Magic Dragon) is Willie’s “House of a Thousand Guitars” and “One Guitar.” A few minutes later I told him that I’ve been listening and watching his ‘One Guitar” video on YouTube (from last year with Springsteen backing up) at least ten times a week. I said, “I really am over ten times a week.” He smiled, “I believe you.”
Later that night Willie Nile and band were back at the Stone Pony for an unplanned short gig to fill in time for a missing musician. I found my nirvana a few feet away when they did ‘One Guitar.” On Saturday night, the Willie Nile Band was back at the Paramount Theatre performing in the main Light of Day concert. They were introduced as the best rock and roll band in America. I told my friend, “wait until ‘One Guitar’” The entire theatre was on their feet. Willie Nile electrified. “It’s what it’s all about,” I thought, thinking I might’ve been the oldest audience member gyrating above his seat.
Perhaps the best part of my well lit weekend was after the magical concert walking back to my car with acclaimed DJ, Dave ‘The Rave’ Kapulsky (Relics and Rarities Show). We walked by (at 2 AM) the Berkeley Hotel where many musicians and Light of Day fans were staying. Magnetism drew us into the lobby and by 2:30 AM Joe Grushecky started an improv jam session; then at 3 AM Willie Nile electrified a hundred people in the lobby with another ‘One Guitar.’ It was a quintessential real live pre-dawn jam session with a performer who constantly soulfully gives back. Yes you should’ve been there.
I guess the best way to close this article is to say if you’re in the mood to be musically, spiritually electrified on Saturday, then come on down (get off the sedentary sofa) to Rahway and see/hear Willie Nile with band mates Johnny Pisano (bass), Matt Hogan (guitar) & Alex Alexander (drums) Hey, maybe Mr. Dickens might be around in some form. It is New Jersey you know.
SATURDAY NIGHT CONCERT INFO:
Legendary Willie Nile is flying high in 2013, coming of a critically acclaimed tour of Italy and turning up stunning shows 4 days in a row for Light Of Day NYC & Asbury Park, NJ. Last week was just a warm up because Willie is bringing his rocking band – Johnny Pisano, Alex Alexander & Matt Hogan to do a full show at Union County Performing Arts Center this Saturday night! Get Ready to Rock Jersey!! Union County Performing Arts Center – Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton Street, Rahway, NJ. Get Your General Admission tickets before there gone at http://ucpac.org/html/event_popup.cfm?id=300
Willie Nile Home Page: http://willienile.com/home/index/
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