Saturday, December 11, 2010

In Case You Missed It

In case you were unable to attend our production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, here's what you missed:

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Join us this coming June for our production of Charles Busch's outrageous Hollywood parody Die Mommie! Die! and December 2011 for our Radio Play production of A Christmas Carol. And watch for our upcoming "It Gets Better" video for The Trevor Project.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's a Wonderful Final Dress Rehearsal

This spiffy-looking group is the complete cast and Foley crew of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Once more, down the line from left to right: John Maurer; Diana Maurer; Judi Parrish; Jennifer Barron; Shelly Snyder; Damian Gaeta; Sarah Stryker; Sean McGrath and Glen Calhoun. They are quite simply, amazing and I love them, even when they whine or make fun of me.

I think we all assumed that this would be an easy-to-produce show. While it certainly is less work and time than our full June Gala could ever hope to be, we were all taken by surprise by more than one thing or another. And my music cues are somehow off... Still, all that whining aside (though I must admit that actors whine way more than directors), the show is going to be really something special. If our audiences have half the fun as we are having, then we have done our jobs well. And of course, I'll say it until it's no longer true: There is no cast like a JTMF cast. As our family of regular performers grows, so does the depth of extraordinary talent available to us, and the more we all work together, the stronger an ensemble company we become. I've been dong theatre for longer than any one thing in my life. I've done very good theatre and very bad theatre. I've been quite proud of most of my body of work. But I am never prouder than when part of a JTMF show.

The folks in that picture at the top of this post have the goods and they deliver. And nothing makes a director happier than an ensemble that delivers.

If you're still a bit a skeptical about the whole 'Radio Play' thing, you can listen to the cast and crew of It's a Wonderful Life (and yours truly) in a special podcast here at MPOnline. It's like radio on the web... Please feel free to share the link:

Good seats are still available for all four performances. Call 609-570-3333 or visit www.kelseyatmercer. org; or click the link to the Kelsey Theater at the top right of this blog. Tickets may also be purchased at the Kelsey Box Office, 1 hour before curtain.

Don't miss this unusual and entertaining version of a Family Holiday Favorite! It's a nostalgic glimpse into the history of Entertainment and suitable for the entire family. I can't think of a better way to get into the Holiday mood...

A portion of the proceeds from this production will be donated to JTMF's newest beneficiary, The Trevor Project. It Gets Better.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seats Are Still Available

Tickets are still available for our first winter event, featuring Joe Landry's It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play this coming weekend at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road in West Windsor, NJ.

Tonight was our first technical rehearsal, using mikes and even a few new sound effects for the first time. The cast was a bit taken aback by some of what they were hearing (or not hearing).

It's really starting to take shape now, and the actors are having even more fun with the script (though one or two still forget who they're supposed be at any given moment, but that will stop well before we open -- I hope). In all seriousness, there is no cast like a JTMF cast, and they're with us not just because they want to be onstage, but because they want to make a difference, which means egos go out the door and performance becomes the priority. This is my ninth JTMF show (and seventh time directing) and I can attest to the consistent quality of talent and dedication in our 'family.' That's our cast in the new banner photo and the photo to your right. From left to right in the banner, they are: Sean McGrath; Glen Calhoun; Damian Gaeta (who is setting a JTMF performance record with this, his sixth show with us); Foley Captain, Judi Parrish; Jennifer Barron; Sarah Stryker and John Maurer.

And speaking of making a difference, the JTMF is proud to announce our new beneficiary, The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a 24 hour suicide-prevention hot line for LGBT and questioning youth. They provide confidential and anonymous ears, while offering counsel to any young person with questions, problems or thoughts of suicide. The Trevor Lifeline's toll-free number is 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids, and it's on the rise. Thankfully, so is awareness of the problem. A portion of the proceeds from It's a Wonderful Life: A live Radio Play will be donated to The Trevor Project. And watch for the JTMF's own "It Gets Better" video, coming in late January.

For Tickets to It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, please call 609-570-3333 or visit Tickets are also available for purchase at the Kelsey Theatre box office, one hour before curtain.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Weeks from Tonight!

The James Tolin Memorial Fund is proud to announce their first Winter event, featuring Joe Landry’s adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, December 3rd & 4th at 7:30 PM and December 4th & 5th at 2:00 PM at the Kelsey Theater on the campus of Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, NJ.

The production recreates the experience of seeing a live radio broadcast from the 1940’s just as a studio audience would have, complete with a live Foley (sound effects) crew.

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play was developed from Landry’s full stage production and first mounted at the Stamford Center for the Arts in 1996. It tells the story of George Bailey, a man about to take his own life, and an angel named Clarence who convinces him not to, by showing him how different the lives of his friends and family would have been had he never been born. The 1946 Frank Capra film is a beloved holiday classic and stars James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. It also served as the inspiration for the names of the “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie.

Tickets are $10.00, $12.00 & $14.00 and can be purchased at the Kelsey Box Office one hour before curtain, online at, or by phone at 609-570-3333. For more information, please visit For more information about The James Tolin Memorial Fund, please visit or search “James Tolin Memorial Fund” on YouTube.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Long-Overdue Update

That's MCCC student Fredy Barrientos, this year's recipient of The James Tolin Memorial Scholarship. Fredy is a student in MCCC's Entertainment Technology program and has worked on every MCCC show since he started at the college. He is recently married expecting his first child. Fredy is dedicated to receiving his degree and was deeming most deserving of this year's award.

In other JTMF news, make you sure you visit for the latest news about our first Winter Event, featuring It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. An adaptation of the Frank Capra classic, the show recreates the experience of seeing a live radio broadcast, just as audiences of the 1940's would have done, complete with a live Foley (sound effects) crew.

It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play will have four performances, December 3rd and 4th at 7:30 PM and December 4th and 5th at 2:00 PM at the Kelsey Theater on the campus of Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ. Tickets are $10.00, $12.00 and $14.00 and can be purchased by visiting, at the Kelsey box-office one hour before curtain or by calling 609-570-3333.

Please join us for this unusual adaptation of a holiday classic and get into the Holiday Spirit in old-fashioned way. We'll be looking for you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Numbers Are In

For those of who might have missed it, here are some pictures from last month's fundraiser's production of Del Shores' Sordid Lives.

The JTMF is happy to report that Sordid Lives marked our third best year ever, with nearly $7000.00 over in just three performances!

Thanks to all who participated and even more importantly, thanks to all the good folks who came out to see us and/or donated to the cause.

See you in December when we present a staged radio-play version of the classic holiday story It's a Wonderful Life and next June's 9th Annual Benefit will feature Charles Busch's hilarious 50's noir satire, Die Mommy, Die!

See you then!

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Opening Night!

It's finally here! The curtain goes up at 8:00 on the JTMF 8th Annual Fundraiser Event featuring Del Shores' Sordid Lives. The actors are ready; the crew is ready; all the props and costumes are in place and teh lights focused. All that's missing is you in the audience!

The festivities begin at 7:00 in the Kelsey Theatre lobby with appetizers, live music and bidding on our famous Silent Auction.

Tickets are still available at, via phone 609-570-3333 or at the Kelsey Box Office, 1 hour before curtain. Your tax-deductible donation includes both the show and the reception. Tickets are $25.00 for the Friday& Saturday perfomances. Tickets for Sunday's matinee performance are $12.00 to $16.00 but do not include the recpetion or auction.

For more information, click the link to our website (on the right) or type in your browser.

See you there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crunch Time!

There are just two rehearsals left before we open. So, we're trying to create a 'soundtrack' for Sordid Lives, using music from my second least favorite genre, Country and Western. In fact, I'm trying to exclusively use female artists (you'll understand when you see the show). Not an easy task.

And, par for the course, I'm dealing with a computer virus which prevents me from downloading, so I am forced to use hard CD's (I'm listening to various stuff as I type this). I hope my sound guy can download what I'm missing. And I'm hoping my sound plot makes sense. It's a pretty simple plot, but when dealing with someone with whom I've never worked, it could be confusing.

All in all, the show is going very well. The actors are among the best in the area; the crew is amazing and all that's missing now is an audience.

There's still time to order tickets online at or by phone at 609-570-3333. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're on YouTube!!

You can see the first video uploaded to the new James Tolin Memorial Fund YouTube channel, right here, right now:

Just four rehearsals left to go. You can still order tickets online at the Kelsey Theatre Website (linked to your right) or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Guest Blogger Joyce Labriola

Founding Board Member -- and founder of our sister organization in Canada; JTMF West -- Joyce Labriola was a friend of James' and we asked her to share her thoughts on him, the JTMF and the work she is doing now for JTMF West and HIV Edmonton. This is what she had to say:

"For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Joyce LaBriola and I am one of the founders of the JTMF.

"When James passed away, Tracy Antozzeski, David Maurio, Missy Abrahams and I decided to put on a benefit in memory of our dear friend. That first year was one of the most special times of my life. I recruited my friend Doug Edelson to audition for the title role in that first production of “Jeffery”. Doug brought his friend Bruce Frangione, who was a godsend backstage and in the lobby for the reception. And I got a chance to reconnect with Brian Bara, who I’d worked with as a teenager and was so blessed to find him back in my life. This group of seven comprised the first board and thus, JTMF was born.

"In 2007, my 'real job' brought me to Edmonton to work for the Edmonton Oilers. While my job was exciting and, some would say 'cool,' I felt something of a hole in my heart, missing the JTMF. So, in January of 2009, I rallied two of my closest 'Edmonton friends” (Kristi Van Binsbergen and Sarah Van Tassel), to start JTMF West and create a sister organization to James’ legacy. Although James had never been to Edmonton (and I’m not sure if he’d ever even been to Canada!), I wanted to raise funds and awareness with the JTMF. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live: The need is global and the message universal – we are all entitled to a life of dignity and hope.

"JTMF West held our first event April 17, 2010. Artists for Life: Edmonton raised over $8,500(C). It was truly inspirational, for a community that didn’t know James; that doesn’t know me; and who hadn’t been huge supporters of HIV/AIDS in recent years to come out and support us - not only with their checkbooks, but also with incredible spirit and energy. The event celebrated local Edmonton talent, with a staged reading by Edmonton playwright Justen Bennett and a reunion concert by local fave, The Big Breakfast Boogie Band. The silent auction was rife with pieces donated by Edmonton artists as well. Our guests enjoyed the play, bid generously on auction items and danced the night away. It was a very special night.

"What made the event even more perfect was the presence of 3 of my best friends on the planet – David Maurio, John Claps and Tracy Antozzeski who had traveled from New Jersey to support me. This was a daunting endeavor. I didn’t have James’ friends or family to rely on. I didn’t have the benefit of being in my home town and had no contacts to leverage. Having them there was a stabilizing force and enabled me to breathe when I hadn’t been able to for weeks... Especially Tracy – she, along with the current and amazing JTMF team, has kept the JTMF alive and they all inspire me to continue... and Tracy has been calming me down and helping me breathe for nearly 20 years. I wouldn’t have the courage to do any of this without her.

"When doing media for the JTMF West event, I was asked several times how James’ death had inspired me. I think a more appropriate question would be: “How had James’ life inspired me?” My friendship with James, my knowing him, has made me want to become a better person.

"Doing JTMF, both here and especially in NJ, is the single most important thing I’ve ever done. The work continues to inspire me to do better, to do more...all the time.

"Until there’s a cure...."

There are still two weeks left to get your tickets to one of the funniest JTMF shows yet, Del Shores' Sordid Lives. Think globally; act locally. Tell the people you love that you love them, as often as you can.

There's plenty more good stuff coming, so keep coming back.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Heaven's a Little More "Sordid" (Not to Mention Golden)

You all know by now that we lost yet another institution with the passing of Rue McClanahan last week. What's the connection? One of Rue's last regular roles was as Peggy on the Logo series (the events take place before the events of the show). That's Rue with the amazing Beth Grant, reprising her role as Sissy in both the original production and the movie.

Joyce Labriola, who runs our sister organization, JTMF West, shared these quotes with us, and we thought we'd share them with you. They are from Leslie Jordan (who played Brother Boy in all three versions) and Beth Grant, both of whom knew and loved Rue well, and both of whom have amazing things to say about a very funny woman...

Leslie Jordan: “I got really close in the twilight of Rue’s life. She’s one of the true Southern ladies. She showed up in Shreveport, La. to play my mother on the series Sordid Lives with a portable sewing machine, and she wanted to make her own hats. She just said, ‘I just think that this lady would have made beautiful Sunday hats.’ We got so close, though, Rue and I. We did a tour of comedy from the show. She was in a wheelchair, I think after a hip replacement, and rather than stand-up comedy, she called it sit-down comedy. Honey, we wheeled her out [and] I thought we were going to have to get the hook! We said, ‘You have 20 minutes.’ Well, she had that audience on the palm of her hands. From the moment they wheeled her out. I thought, how are we going to get her off the stage? It was watching a master at her craft. She was Southern, and a storyteller, and she had a story for any occasion. Oh, she was something. One night, she came to me and said, ‘I just had a fight with my husband.’ I said, ‘About what, Rue?’ She was very upset, she said, ‘Well, we were watching Everyone Loves Raymond, and my husband said that he liked Patricia Heaton’s acting. And I said, yes, she’s a good actress, but her posture is terrible. And my husband said, “Oh, you always have something to say.” But I was just commenting that a lady should have good posture!’ So she’s fighting with her husband about Patricia Heaton’s posture. And I thought, that’s Rue right there. There are ways we handle ourselves. You can be a wonderful actress, but you have to have good posture as well. She was a lady, but she was a bawdy lady too. She could get down with the best of us. She was filthy. She will really be missed."

Beth Grant: I loved her so much. I did a play called Picnic in Los Angeles with her (years ago), and she played my mom. It was my first big break. And she was so kind to me.And we did an out-of-town try out in Denver, and I told that when I was a little girl I had always wanted to go to Mardi Gras, because a lot of my friends had gone and come back with these crystal beads and how I always wanted those crystal beads. So opening night in Denver, she gave me the most gorgeous crystal beads you've ever seen. I still have them. And she had forgotten all about it. When we did Sordid Lives, I reminded her. For her to bring that magic to it by remembering a silly little story I told, it was so special. It sounds so cliche, but she was a consummate professional. She had the best timing in the world, playing Blanche -- as a southerner, believe me -- to perfection. Her timing was so great. You could just feel if there was a funny moment coming on, she could send out a vibe to let you know to hold or to jump in. She could lead you to good timing, as well. She was a comic genius. She really was. in every way. I miss her so very much right now. She's a magical person to me. I'm going to wear my crystal beads today, that's what I've decided."

We couldn't have said it, better.

Put on your "crystal beads" and join us as we celebrate lives well-spent, people well-remembered and all the laughter we have shared with them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Listen to the "Sordid Lives" Podcast

Our Podcast on Mauer Productions "Backstage Pass" is up. The discussion features Producer Tracy Antozzeski; Director Brian Bara; Actors Tracey Hawkins & Nicole Patrick and Assistant Stage Manager Matty Daley.

You can listen here, or copy and past the URL below:

Sordid Lives opens Friday, June 25th and runs through Sunday, June 27th. Friday and Saturday performances feature a catered reception and silent auction. Bidding and appetizers start at 7:00 PM; curtain is at 8:00. Tickets are $25.

The Sunday performance is offered at a reduced rate of $12 - $16, but does not include the reception or auction. Curtain is at 2:00 PM.

Get your tickets to the JTMF production of Sordid Lives now by clicking the link to The Kelsey Theatre to the right of this post or type into your browser. You can also call the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333 or purchase tickets at the door, one hour before curtain. All ticket sales benefit The Open Arms Foundation and The James Tolin Memorial Scholarship at Mercer County Community College.

Some terrific stuff coming up on the blog this week, so keep checking back!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our First Rehearsal

Heather McHenry and Damian Geata as Latrelle and Ty, rehearse a scene from Sordid Lives.

Our first blocking rehearsal was just amazing. I saw some fine work already being done by our wonderfully talented cast. Somehow, the cast's schedules got us started to work on the show's last scene, first. I can't remember working on a show backwards before, but this particular play allows for it. And thanks to this amazing group of actors, we not only got to block the thing in record time, we were actually able to run it twice, afterwards.

It's said that 90% of directing is casting and I have to take a certain pride in the casting of this (and just about every JTMF show). Working with actors as talented, funny and easy-going as these folks, just makes my job so much easier and delightful. If our first two rehearsals are any indicators, Sordid Lives is going to one hell of a funny show. Get your tickets now, before its too late. You don't want to miss this one!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today's Guest Bloggers

Last night was the first read-through for our production of Sordid Lives. Tonight, Guest Bloggers Tracy Hawkins (Noleta), Kathy Garofano (Sissy) and Nicole Patrick (Bitsy Mae) give us their brief thoughts on the experience:

This play is going to be HILARIOUS -- it was funny when I first read it, but to hear it come to life with the actors' interpretations at the read-through (without anyone's best effort, I'm sure) I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard, and my face hurt from smiling so much. The only thing that will surpass the fun we're going to have doing this show will be the audience's enjoyment of the finished product! I'm not in "Chapter Three" but I may have to come to some of those rehearsals just to enjoy the interactions between "Dr Eve" and "Brother Boy." Bless their hearts!
Tracy Hawkins

I got there late, after a crappy day at work, a fight with my sister and having to park out in Gods country, so I wasn't in a really good mood to got significantly better by the end of the evening.... a funny show, loads of good actors, and a support team to die for, who could ask for anything more?

Kathy Garofano

What a ridiculously hilarious show this is going to be. We were all in side-splitting laughter at times and I couldn't help but think during one section of the show, while I was munching on Kathy's homemade chocolate chip cookies, how very special this organization is. They raise awareness, raise funds and lift spirits; all in the name of a loved one who was taken all too soon. And although I never had the pleasure or privilege of knowing James, I am so honored to be a part of this for a 3rd time and to remember James in one of the best ways possible: with laughter.

Nicole Patrick

We really couldn't ask for better testimonials than that, now could we? Watch for more Guest Blogger posts from other cast members, JTMF staff and a few surprise guests. You know where to find us!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Read-Thru - This Tuesday

Now it's starting to get exciting. The first read-through for this year's JTMF show, Sordid Lives will be held this coming Tuesday, the 27th. First read-thru is one of the most exciting things about a show. It's often the only time the entire cast is together at once until production week (and with this show, that very well may be the case).

We'll keep you updated with rehearsal stories and photos, as well all teh fabulous Silent Auction items as they come in.

See you soon!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

JTMF Casting News

The JTMF is currently seeking an actor in his mid-40's to mid-50's to play the role of G.W. in our upcoming production of Sordid Lives. The actor previously announced has been forced to drop out due to personal commitments.

Candidates for the role must be available between April 27th and June 27th, for three nights a week until Hell Week. Experience is a plus, though all interested parties will be interviewed and auditioned.

If you are interested, or know someone who may be, please email us at or leave a comment with your name, email address and phone number, below.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meet the Cast of "Sordid Lives"

Auditions were held yesterday, and the JTMF is pleased to announce the cast for the Eighth Annual JTMF AIDS Benefit featuring Del Shores' Sordid Lives.

In this photo (L to R), Kathy Garofano, Alice Weber, Damian Gaeta, Glen Calhoun and Nicole Patrick. And yes, they're partying around a casket. You see, poor Peggy Ingram has died, and the whole dysfunctional clan is gathering for her big send off. Be sure to join us this June 25, 26 & 27 at the Kelsey Theatre, 'cause ya'll gotta see this one, to believe it!

The full cast is as follows:

Bitsy Mae Harling -- Nicole Patrick
Ty Williamson -- Damian Gaeta
Sissy Hickey -- Kathy Garofano
Noletta Nethercott -- Tracy Hawkins
Latrelle Williamson -- Heather McHenry
LaVonda Dupree -- Alice Weber
G.W. Nethercott -- John Devienne
Wardell "Bubba" Owens -- Rob Sampson
Odell Owens/Rev. Barnes -- Glen Calhoun
Dr. Eve Bolinger -- Jennifer Barron
Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram -- Doug Edelson
The Guitarist -- Ernie Albanisius

Friday and Saturday performance include a Texas Barbecue themed reception and our famous Silent Auction. Tickets are $25.00 for the Friday and Saturday Performances, $12.00 to $16.00 for the Sunday Matinee. Visit our page (linked to your right) for more details.

And keep watching this space for rehearsal photos and updates. We can't wait to get started!

See you soon!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cast Announcement Coming Soon!

Sordid Lives has been fully cast!

Watch this space for the full cast list, tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

We're Back!

While there are still several roles to be cast in the 2010 JTMF production of Del Shores' Sordid Lives, here is a sneak-peak at some of the folks you'll be seeing onstage at the Kelsey Theatre this June.

"A Black Comedy About White Trash," Sordid Lives tells the story of a South Texas family gathering for the funeral of their beloved matriarch, Peggy, who has died under rather circumspect circumstances.

Directed by Yours Truly, Sordid Lives promises to be a hilarious look at family, weight, sexual orientation and shame, all set to the tune of Tammy Wynette's Greatest Hits. Cigarettes, Valium, ladies' underwear and wooden legs all play a part in this story that proves that nothing is stronger (or more important) than the bonds which tie a family together.

Please join us for a terrific show, a Texas BBQ reception and a good cause. More details to come.

Hope to see you there!