New Jersey Repertory Company will present The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project written by John Jiler and directed by Margarett Perry. The play stars John Jiler and clarinetist, Lee Odom. Performances run March 9 through April 2, Thursdays & Fridays 8pm; Saturdays 3pm & 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm. Patrons can purchase tickets by visiting www.njrep.orgor calling 732.229.3166. Tickets are $35-$60.
Award-winning actorplaywright John Jiler tells the remarkable story of the youngest child of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Orphaned at six following his parents’ execution for espionage, the boy was adopted by the man who wrote the song “Strange Fruit” – seared into our consciousness by Billie Holiday. Playing a gallery of rogues, heroes and saints, Jiler takes us on a journey from then ’til now…
The production team for “The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project” includes Jessica Parks (Scenic Design/Props), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Nick Simone (Sound Design), Kristin Pfeifer (Production Stage Manager), Rachael Malloy (Assistant Stage Manager), Janey Huber (Assistant Lighting Designer), James Lockhart (Master Electrician), Brian Snyder (Technical Director), Donna Stiles (Scenic Design Assistant), Blake Robinson (Props Assistant).
John Jiler (Playwright, Actor) is a writer of both drama and prose. He was the recipient of both the Richard Rodgers Award and the Kleban Librettists’ Award for his musical Avenue X, which played in New York at Playwrights’ Horizons and in some fifty cities around the world. He was a runner-up for the Weissberger Prize for his first full-length play Sour Springs. His work has been seen coast to coast, from the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference to the Kennedy Center to Seattle Rep and many places in between. His most recent book, Sleeping With The Mayor, was named a New York Times’ “Most Notable Book.” His first, Dark Wind, was called by the Village Voice “a classic.” As a journalist he has also written for the NY Times, The Nation, and the Village Voice,where the stories that led to Avenue X and Sleeping With The Mayor first appeared. Among his current theatrical projects are Big Red Sun a World War Two era story with composer Georgia Stitt, recently seen at the NAMT Festival and shortly to appear at the York Theatre; Channel, a new play at the Labyrinth Theatre’s Barn Series; and Sirocco, ink still wet. His first one-man show, Explicit Vows, was seen at both Playwrights Horizons and the Flea Theatre; his new one, Ripe, also workshopped at Playwrights Horizons, was performed at Theatre For The New City and hailed by the New York Times as “classic.” In his former life as an actor he appeared at the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Hartford Stage Company, and Chicago’s Body Politic, where he won the Chicago Drama Critic’s Best Actor Award. He has just completed his first novel, North Of Here.
LEE ODOM (Clarinetist) is a composer and band leader whose musical spectrum includes gospel, free-improvised music, jazz, R &B, Hip-Hop and classical. instrumental spectrum includes the clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone, flute and oboe. A native of North Carolina, studying clarinet performance at Appalachian State University, Boone NC, Lee later moved to New York City where she decided to pursue her musical career. Lee has performed with many outstanding groups such as the Western Piedmont Symphony, Hickory NC, various theatre musical productions throughout NC and New York, The Karl Berger Improv Orchestra, Canaan Baptist Church Music Ministry, Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses Free Improv big band, the Makanda Project Boston, MA, UpSurge NY poetry ensemble, also with Keith “The Captain” Gamble and the Nu Gypsies, the Zodiacs Saxophone Quartet, and with many outstanding musicians such as Don Byron, JD Parran, Warren Smith, Craig Harris, and David Murray. Lee also performs as band leader, as Sweet Lee Music, performing at various venues and festivals throughout New York, Boston, & Connecticut. She has been featured artist for Craig Harris’ Harlem Jazz Box, and also participated in “Women Composers” produced by Abby London, where she featured original compositions. She also appeared as a guest artist with artists through the Jazz Foundation NY. Lee was also the featured alto saxophone player for Bang on A Can “The Shape of Jazz to Come.” The New York Times described her sound as “prayerful and ever searching.” Lee was honored to be an Artist-in-Residence at Holmes Presbyterian Camp, Holmes, NY and at Art Omi in Hudson NY, where she created and cultivated many musical experiences, and Teaching Artist for Poly Prep Summer Art Camp. Lee is currently a Teaching Artist for the Jazz House Kids in Paterson NJ. The music by Sweet Lee and her accompanying bands has been sending lighting vibes throughout the boroughs of New York. With a fusion of Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Classical, and free improvisation, “Sweet” Lee keeps the groove groovin’.
MARGERETT PERRY (Director) is an award-winning director of new plays and has directed and developed new work Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country and in the UK. She directed John Jiler‘s Half Moon Bay for Nylon Fusion at the New Ohio Theatre in NYC. Recent world premieres include: Born in East Berlin by Rogelio Martinez and Seared by Theresa Rebeck (both at San Francisco Playhouse), The House by Brian Parks (US, London & Scotland), Education by Brian Dykstra (59E59) and Banned from Baseball by Patricia O’Hara (Human Race). Margarett was the Resident Director at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca where she has directed over 25 productions including Private Lives, Cock, Old Times, Clean Alternatives and most recently The Thanksgiving Play. Other recent favorites include: Shrek the Musical (Connecticut Rep), Used to Was/Maybe Did (Center Theatre Group), The Revolutionists (Human Race) and A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Hudson Stage). During the shutdown, she ventured into the short film and music video world for passion projects such as “#Hashtag That-Say Their Name” (from the musical Crazy Make Crazy), “This Doesn’t Work” written & performed by Darian Dauchan and Brian Dykstra and “Time Passes” for the Resident Acting Company. She also began exploring watercolor and her work is licensed by the New York Historical Society and was a finalist in 2020 Brush & Lyre Prize. Margarett was an Artistic Fellow with the Lark for years and considered it her theatrical home base. www.margarettperry.com
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