By Sandy Rustin
Maplewood, NJ is a Rockwell-esque little nook where theatre people with families hideaway beneath the oak trees. Three years ago, when baby #2 made his appearance, my husband and I took a deep breath and plunged our lives, head first, into this quaint suburban haven. (Full disclosure, I cried in my cross-over vehicle as we waved goodbye to a decade of memories in our Upper West Side apartment).
With both feet planted on the other side of the river, it wasn't long until I had immersed myself amongst the other show tune loving folks ; all of us, looking for a way to be normal parents, despite the abnormality of a career in the theatre. The summer of 2010, we decided to celebrate our quirky clique of commuting show people. We developed, Midtown Direct Rep, a theatre company in residence at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, designed to allow this unique group of performers the chance to work and play together, for and with our community.
This fall marks the kick off of our third season. Our membership boasts over 75 incredible Working Theatre artists in the Broadway community (including actor/parents: two- time Tony Winner, Norbert Leo Butz, Tony Nominee, Christiane Noll, and "Law & Order; SVU" regular, Joel de la Fuente). This is a town where moms and dads stand on the soccer field sidelines Sunday morning, and take their bows on the Great White Way by mid-afternoon.
On Monday, October 1st, we will launch our season with an evening that honors Midtown Direct Rep's mission. "Broadway's Night Off" is a one-night-only, star-studded special event where friends and neighbors (who happen to be among Broadway's top professionals) perform musical theatre favorites and show off their talents in their own backyard. A Broadway themed silent auction (including tix and backstage tours to our members' shows - ie, Wicked, Rock of Ages, Phantom of the Opera, MARY POPPINS, and many more!) will open the evening at 7:30. The concert will begin at 8:00.
Over 20 local, Broadway moms & dads, (including Ron Bohmer (Phantom of the Opera), Catherine Brunell (MARY POPPINS), Michelle Federer (Wicked), & Becky Gulsvig (Legally Blonde) will take the stage to help raise funds for MDR's upcoming season, dedicated to developing new works.
The honor of serving as Co-Artistic Director (along with Jeremy Dobrish) is a privilege that I don't take lightly. I never saw this little New Jersey niche coming, and yet, I couldn't be prouder to be smack dab in the middle of this incredible group of friends, neighbors, peers, and theatre wackos, that we call, Midtown Direct Rep.
You don't need a special invitation to join us, but I'll extend one to you anyway! Please come join us on October 1st. It's going to be a spectacular evening of regular Moms and Dads, showcasing their extraordinary gifts. Introduce yourself if you swing by ... there's a house down the street that's for sale!
Tickets can be purchased at Sopcnow.org. Visit midtowndirectrep.org for details.
is an actress, writer, and mom. Her critically acclaimed musical, Rated P ... for Parenthood, premiered Off-Broadway in February 2012 and will begin running regionally this fall. She appears regularly at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in “Gravid Water” (named "Best Improv Show” by Time Out NY). For more scoop on Sandy visit www.sandyrustin.com
or read her blog at http://ratedpforparenthood.blogspot.com/