In a decided change-of-pace from their usual improvisational comedy sketches, ad-libbed on the spot based on audience suggestions, Transactors Improv Co. will present New Jersey, New Jersey, a brand-new scripted musical comedy by Transactors musical director Mark John Lewis, April 1-17 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. Founded in 1983, the South's oldest improvisational theater company previously performed a scripted musical comedy only once, when it performed Glass by Steven Cragg in 1989.
In an e-mail, Transactors director Greg Hohn describes New Jersey, New Jersey as "a 1950s-style musical with a contemporary sense of humor." He adds, "Set in 1961, the story follows a New Jersey swimming-pool salesman, Butch, who fumbles his way through New York's Broadway and cabaret scene. In his adventures, Butch meets a big-time producer looking to stage a musical about bowling, a down-and-out clown with an idea that will change theme parks forever, and folks just like him who are looking to light up the Great White Way."
The New Jersey, New Jersey cast includes Michele Easter, Greg Hohn, Rachel Klem, Andrea Maddox, Jimmy Magoo, Mark Miller, Harvey Sage, Steve Scott, Victoria Tucci, and Steven Warnock. Hohn says he, Scott, and Warnock are current members of Transactors Improv; and Miller was a founding member.
Mark John Lewis, Nathan Logan, and Tyson Rogers will comprise the show's orchestra. Mike Beard will serve as technical director for New Jersey, New Jersey, and Company Carolina will assist in the production.
Hohn writes, "Mark John Lewis is a pianist and composer of musical theater and theatrical music. He has been entertaining local audiences since moving to the Triangle in 1992. Lewis' other local musical theater projects have included Lounge Magic and 'Mark's Horror Show.' He has served as musical director for several PlayMakers Repertory Company productions and began working with Transactors Improv shortly after arriving in the area."
Educated at Berklee School of Music (now the Berklee College of Music), Lewis later moved to New York City, where he lived and worked for many years. He was house musician at Catch a Rising Star in New York.
When not performing with Transactors Improv Co., Lewis performs as a solo pianist throughout the Triangle. He has recorded four CDs: "Silks and Rags," "Gothic Jazz," "A Lounge Magic Christmas," and "Island of Discarded Electronics."
Transactors Improv Co. presents New Jersey, New Jersey Thursday-Saturday, April 1-3, 8-10, and 15-17, at 8 p.m. at The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina. $10 ($9 for ArtsCenter Friends) Thursday and $15 ($13 for ArtsCenter Friends) Friday-Saturday. 919/929-2787. Transactors Improv Co.: http://transactors.org/NJNJ.html.