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!