The Park Players of North Bergen, in their 32nd year of musical theater, will take the stage with a brand new performance scheduled for February. Founded by Joseph Conklin and John Fiorenza, the Players have performed in a wide range of venues, including florists, barber shops, churches, and restaurants.
The current production, which will take place at Antonia’s by the Park Restaurant in North Bergen, has actors and singers as young as 7 years old.
The Players are rehearsing diverse repertoire of pieces drawn from current shows and musicals from the past decade. Pieces are drawn from shows such as Spamalot, Wicked, and Curtains.
“This is the first time we’ve done a revue here,” said John Fiorenza, mentioning that the owner of the restaurant, Antonia, specifically requested a revue. “We’re doing songs from the new millennium.”
“It’s a wonderful group of people [representing] all ages and walks of life.” – John Fiorenza
“It’s a wonderful group of people,” said Fiorenza, “[representing] all ages and walks of life.” Among the participants are teachers, florists, children, priests, and composers.
Reverend Allison Moore of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fort Lee will participate in her second performance.
Her motivation? To become more involved in the arts.
“This is the first time they’ve gotten me to sing,” said Moore with a laugh. “It’s fun to get out there [on stage], and to not be typecast.”
She noted that she’d like to bring a theater group to her church as well.
“We can make the church a cultural arts center,” she said. “There are a lot of parallels between church and theater.” She cited group performances and music as references.
Part of the enthusiastic atmosphere of rehearsals can be attributed to the presence of children in the production. Juliana Meglio, 10, Melissa Montijo, 7, and Ryan Espaillat, 9, all sing, dance, and act in the performance.
“It’s fun,” said Espaillat, mentioning that he enjoys singing during rehearsals. Espaillat, a magic enthusiast, is preparing to perform several tricks during the performance.
“[I enjoy] expressing myself,” said Meglio, who has experience in several shows and musicals.
“I’ve been [performing] almost my whole life,” said Montijo, a niece of Fiorenza. Montijo has been involved with several Park Players productions, including Godspell and Annie Warbucks.
The millennium in revue
Fiorenza noted that most of their productions are plays or novels adapted for the stage. In July, the Park Players performed And Then There Was Nun, a campy take on an Agatha Christie novel.
“This one is fun because it includes songs from different musicals,” said Arlene Ng, a frequent choreographer for the Park Players and ESL teacher at Robert Fulton School. “It’s awesome to be working with community talent and to see what they can do.”
North Bergen’s Antonia’s by the Park restaurant is located at 9011 Palisade Ave. The show dates are Feb. 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, and 19. Tickets are $39 for adults, $38 for seniors and students, and $37 for groups of ten or more.
The show starts at 8 p.m. on the Thursday and Friday dates and includes a 6:30 dinner. On the Sunday dates, the show starts at 3 p.m. and includes a 1:30 lunch. For tickets, call 201-941-6030.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at