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Saturday, July 21, 2007


OK, I lied; here's a blog a day earlier than predicted.

I buzzed in early to review last night's New York Dolls show at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, which was a real love-fest. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to catch some of the Bernie Brausewetter tribute at the same venue. (I also plan to share some Bernie memories with you in my next blog.)

But for now, I wanted to talk about Neil Simon's "Chapter Two," which is being performed at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch through July 29.


I caught opening night on Thursday, and it was like that old cliche: I laughed, I cried. I laughed because Simon is a witty linguist, and the bright four-member cast made his wonderful words come alive. I cried because "Chapter Two" is about a man who loses his wife tragically young, so a lot of it was pretty close to home.

Bryan Cranston -- the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor who played daddy Hal on "Malcolm in the Middle" and dentist Tim Whatley on "Seinfeld" -- stars with his lovely wife, Robin Dearden. Rounding out the cast is another married acting couple, Monmouth County residents Bill and Georgette Reilly Timoney. The two couples are close friends offstage, which adds resonance in the strangest places, such as the hilarious scene in which Bill's character tries to seduce Georgette's character.

(As I shared in an earlier blog, I've known Bill since the '80s, therefore I could not formally review the play. Thank goodness for this far-less-formal blog format, because I sincerely recommend this production of "Chapter Two.")

These four are having a ball up on the Pollak stage and, I strongly suspect, finding laughs that aren't necessarily in the script. But it's not all fun and games; the Cranstons worked up visible tears during one emotional scene.

After the performance, the cast met the audience in the lobby for cookies and bubbly. That rascal Bill confessed that he nicked a bit of business from a performance of "Chapter Two" he witnessed on Broadway in the '70s. Georgette said she was gratified to hear the audience laughing at points that were, of course, dead-silent during rehearsals. We charmed audience members craned our necks to learn these backstage tidbits.

It was just a sweet evening -- another reminder that the Jersey Shore is a place like no other, where magical things can happen, and often do.

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