Sandra is one of the leads in the Jewish Community Center’s performances scheduled for July 19, 21, and 22, part of a cast of 24 young actors from Bayonne, Jersey City, Union City, and elsewhere in New Jersey who will pay tribute to 1980s lifestyle and music in this two-hour show.
Based partly on the film staring Adam Sandler, the musical is, according to director Carl Gonzalez, who also directs and teachers at the Park Theater in Union City, a light, funny and tender show that will leave audiences with a good feeling.
“This is a romantic comedy with a good feeling and a great cast of young people,” he said. “Anyone who knows the '80s will see the humor in this show. It is light and it is sweet. The cast members are all in their 20s and have a lot of energy.”
Cast and crew
Sandra, who is a preschool director at JCC, said she loved the costumes and the role she plays.
“She’s a light-hearted, down to earth and real person,” Sandra said. “She is honest and I really enjoy that in her.”
Part of the challenge, she said, is that she is onstage a lot and has a lot of costume changes.
“But the big challenge for me would be connecting the words of the songs to the emotions I’m trying to convey, trying to get the audience to feel the way I do. When I’m on stage, they can’t see my facial expressions the way they could on TV or a movie screen. Trying to get the audience to feel for me and for what the story is, is difficult. But I think we do a pretty good job in doing it.”
Scott Miller, who plays the male lead, Robbie Hart, is from Lafayette, New Jersey, and heard about the play from friends who were associated with the Center Players.
He said he liked the singing, in particular, the song “If I Told You.”
Cast in the role established by Sandler, Miller has a chore ahead of him, although he said the musical role is different.
“This is a romantic comedy with a good feeling and a great cast of young people.” – Carl Gonzalez
“The most challenging part is that I’m almost always on stage or preparing to get on stage,” he said. “There is no point in the play where I am not doing anything.”
A student at St. Peter’s University, Miller is seeking a career in research in the field of mathematics.
Lisette Santiago of Jersey City, who plays Holly in the production, said she liked opening song because it carries a lot of energy. She said she would like to continue to do these kinds of performances as a career.
Garvey Potter from Bayonne plays Glenn, and said he likes the dancing in the play, and that the most challenging part of the play for him was singing. A student at St. Peter’s University, Potter is pursuing a career in journalism.
This is the second production Gonzalez has directed at the JCC. Known locally for his directing of “The Passion Play” in Union City’s Park Theater, Gonzalez, a resident of Bayonne, has been involved in theater both in New York and locally for several decades. An award-winning director, playwright and educator, he teaches throughout New Jersey including at the Arts High School in Newark, and has taught at the Performing Arts High School in Jersey City.
Gonzales called the song “Single” a hoot, and “If I Told You” a moving and romantic duet.
“But you’ll split your sides over ‘Someone Kill Me, Please,’” he said.
He said the Jewish Community Center has put a lot of resources and energy into the theater program, drawing a high level of performers as well as installing new lighting, new sound and other features, all to enhance the numerous levels of performance for grammar, middle and young adults.
“They’re trying to create a core group here,” he said.
Shows will be held on Thursday, July 19 at 8 p.m.; on Saturday, July 21 at 9 p.m.; and on Sunday, July 22 at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $18 for patrons, $15 for preferred, and $12 for reserved. Tickets are available at the main box office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.