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American Theater Group Joins SOPAC as New Theatre-in-Residence

The South Orange Performing Arts Center is thrilled to announce a new partnership with American Theater Group, a professional member theatre of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. The company, headed by Producing Artistic Director James Vagias, will begin presenting staged readings in the SOPAC Loft in January, 2017 and the following year will produce at least two fully-staged productions on the mainstage. As SOPAC’s theatre company in-residence, American Theater Group and SOPAC will co-present these theatrical offerings.

“We are excited to welcome American Theater Group to the SOPAC stage, and to South Orange,” noted SOPAC’s executive director Mark Packer. “James Vagias has an outstanding record of achievement in bringing new works to life. His reputation as a long-time producer in New Jersey is sterling and we feel that our audiences will be thrilled to see these quality productions in the intimate SOPAC theater.”

A list of successful productions speaks to the experience and artistry Vagias brings to the table. He produced the world premiere musical Bubble Boy, written by noted screenwriter Cinco Paul (The Lorax, Despicable Me), which appeared at NY’s famed 54 Below November 9. Another Off-Broadway premiere to his credit, Himself and Nora by Jonathan Brielle, was hailed by The New York Times as “handsomely produced.”   Vagias also produced the 1995 world premiere of the long-running Off-Broadway hit, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, among many others.

He also produced the U.S. Regional theatre premiere of The Way We Get By by award-winning playwright, director and screenwriter Neil LaBute and Character Man, written and directed by Jim Brochu, which The New York Times called “…a solidly satisfying evening…walks down memory lane are rarely so inclusive and entertaining,”

 “American Theater Group is honored to be invited to join the illustrious artists that have performed at SOPAC,” stated Vagias. “We look forward to working with Mark Packer and his dedicated staff to bring quality live professional theater to SOPAC’s audiences.”

Readings planned for 2017 include:

SINGLE
A New Musical

Music and lyrics by Karen Bishko
Book by Karen Bishko and Nat Bennett
SUN, JAN 8 AT 7PM

A punk rock star in the 90’s. Now a high powered NY divorce attorney. And she’s still looking to find a nice, normal guy for herself.

A GOOD FARMER
by Sharyn Rothstein
SUN, APR 2 AT 7PM
Ripped from today’s headlines, a farming community struggles with issues of immigration, loyalty, family, survival and compassion.

A MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER
by Erin Mallon

SUN, MAY 21 AT 7PM

A crotchety senior citizen learns about life and forgiveness from his new neighbor – a precocious 9 year-old.
*Ms. Mallon is a New Jersey playwright and resides in Maplewood.

TBA- SUN, JUN 18 AT 7PM

(Dates and titles subject to change)

American Theater Group is an ambitious new performing arts company launched in 2012 with co-founders Joe Mancuso, Rick Sordelet and then Mayor of Rahway Jim Kennedy that offers musicals and plays, a new musical reading series and and arts-in education programming. Its focus is on producing new and classical works, primarily by American playwrights, with an emphasis on the development of new works and the rediscovery of undeservedly neglected older ones. American Theater Group’s Board of Trustees chairperson is South Orange resident and Tony Award-winning actress Michelle Pawk.