‘Stocks and Blondes’ will feature area actors this month in Atlantic Highlands

By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

Local actors and actresses will be on stage when the production of the dark comedy “Stocks and Blondes” is performed this month.

The First Avenue Playhouse, which is located at 123 First Ave. in Atlantic Highlands, will serve as the venue to the play that was written by Joe Simonelli.

The play will be performed May 5-6, 12-13, 19-21 and 26-27. The theater will open at 7:45 p.m. for each performance and every show will begin at 8:30 p.m., except for May 21, when the theater will open at 1:45 p.m. and the show will begin at 2:30 p.m..

Admission is $22. On May 5, 12, 19, 21 and 26, $18 senior discount tickets will be offered. Entertainment coupon tickets will admit two individuals for $30.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the theater at 732-291-7552. As part of the ticket purchase, dessert, coffee and tea will be offered.

“Stocks and Blondes” is directed by Dave McGrath.

“I have had the pleasure of directing several of Joe Simonelli plays,” McGrath said. “Some dramas, some comedies and one act plays. ‘Stocks and Blondes’ is a wonderful opportunity for me as the director and for the actors to show off some physical comedy and slapstick techniques that seemed to have been played down with many contemporary plays.”

According to McGrath, the play is set in a suburban brokerage office and depicts client Herb Willy’s attempt to have his account pulled from the office. As his account generates most of the revenue for the office, manager Tom Witherspoon attempts to keep Willy and his account by sending a broker’s fiance after him.

David Harris of Middletown takes on the role of Herb Willy.

“Herb is very wealthy and something of a womanizer, so we don’t have a lot in common,” Harris said. “This is a terrific cast and we have been having a lot of fun rehearsing this very funny show.”

As Tom Witherspoon is Derek Alberti of Little Falls.

“Tom is sly and gets himself into crazy situations, but manages to overcome his difficulties,” Alberti said. “Tom and Derek come from two different worlds. Tom is sly and cunning, although somewhat of an honest man. I see Tom in myself as that we are both trying to make it and make the best out of with what we got.

“‘Stocks and Blondes’ is a comedy with a teachable lesson,” Alberti said.

Emily Dodenhoff of Brick portrays Mary Brown.

“Mary Brown, it seems to me, is a woman who just can’t seem to be satisfied with what she has,” Dodenhoff said. “She’s definitely promiscuous, a bit spontaneous and will get what she wants when she wants it.

“Mary and myself couldn’t be more different,” Dodenhoff said. “While I can be spontaneous at times, I like to earn my way and take what I can get. She likes the idea of being in a relationship, but just doesn’t want to be tied down to one man in particular. While I myself am in a happy, committed, monogamous relationship with plans for the future.

“‘Stocks and Blondes’ will have you laughing from beginning to end; there is definitely no shortage of laughter. I am always so happy to be a part of any show Dave McGrath directs. It usually means getting to work with my friends I’ve made in past shows and making new ones.

Broker Sarah Hart is played by Leslie Hochman of Old Bridge.

“Sarah is sarcastic and funny,” Hochman said. “I have been known to be the same. She is a female broker and I find it easy to relate to her being that I am a retired banker and was licensed as a annuity broker.

“I am happy to be a part of this very talented cast,” Hochman said. “In my opinion, each member was cast perfectly.

“The play is fast paced and funny. The dialogue is smartly written and witty. The play is enjoyable to perform and I am sure will be equally enjoyable to watch as an audience member.”

As birthday messenger Sam is Kevin Gabel of Linden.

“Sam is a birthday messenger who appears in a Bo Peep dress and in an outrageous gorilla suit,” Gabel said. “‘Stocks and Blondes’ is a brilliant, hilarious take on stock broker life in the ’90s. It’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ on steroids.”

Taking on the role of job applicant Lois Cleaver is Meghan McPeek of Cliffwood Beach.

“Lois is a young woman looking for a career at the firm,” McPeek said. “She sometimes doesn’t think before she speaks, but that is just her personality. She is driven and ambitious with a positive attitude.

“I am similar to Lois as I am a young woman working for my career and learning new things every day,” McPeek said. “I feel like I can relate to this character because I can bring out my fun ditsy side with Lois.

“This is a fun loving show with a twist. With a wonderful cast and entertaining plot, this show is one not to miss. I am sure there is at least one character that you can connect and relate to. Come see this show and you will not be disappointed.”

Playing attorney Martha Waxman are Ruth Rocky of Carteret and KellyAnn Smith of Aberdeen.

“Martha Waxman is a compliance lawyer from New York City,” Rocky said. “She is very stuffy and by the book, but also has a wild side. Being a paralegal, I can totally relate to this character. I am very serious at work, but also know how to let loose.”

“She’s a lawyer in the compliance department of a stock brokerage firm from New York,” Smith said. “She’s tough and doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone, which is how I am similar. She’s a bit more promiscuous and outspoken than I am.

“The show is pretty funny and cute,” Smith said. “If you like more slapstick humor, you’ll enjoy it.”

In the role of Janet Sommers are Tara London of Brick and Gina Shuster of Toms River.

“Janet is a kind-hearted girl who just wants to succeed in life,” London said. “But with her bad choice in men, her life takes a turn.

“We’re similar in being a good person and wanting to succeed and [having] bad choices in men, but I would always stay close with my relatives and wouldn’t turn to crime.

“This show is great,” London said. “You will certainly laugh and have a good time. And you will definitely fall in love with these characters.”

“She’s a vulnerable woman who had a normal life that all went wrong,” Shuster said. “Now she’s unsure how to handle it, so she turns to crime. I, myself have not turned to crime (as of yet) but we do seem to share a similar love of sarcasm. I could also relate to her vulnerability.

“Having done several Simonelli shows, I’d say this is a classic Simonelli, so if you like his writing style, you’ll like this show,” Shuster said. “It’s silly, but fun.”

Cast as Frank Cronin is Brandon Allentoff of Howell.

“Frank Cronin thinks he is a smooth talker and when he sets his sights on someone that could potentially bring him good luck, he likes to hold on to that,” Allentoff said. “Especially when it comes to gambling and anything with money. He could also be considered a bumbling idiot at times because he does not always think things through. Which of course leads to him having bad luck. He also likes to take the easy way out when the opportunity arises.

“I am very different from this character because I never win at anything, especially when it comes to money,” Allentoff said. “I can’t even win a $2 scratch off. Also, he looks for his wife while holding everyone up with a gun. Being the person I am, I would never ever do that, as well as get married at a place in Vegas called the Fat Elvis Memorial Chapel. Now Elvis is great, but never would I end up in a place like that to be married.

“The only way I am like Frank is when it comes to bragging about something good I did. I end up talking about it a lot more then the average Joe. Now I don’t brag a lot, but sometimes you just have to toot that horn.

“I am very excited to be working with an excellent cast and an excellent director,” Allentoff said. “I have never worked with anyone who is in this production before, so it’s awesome being able to work with new people who bring something new and exciting to the table. Every rehearsal is an adventure for me because I never know what anyone is going to do or say that’s not in the script.

“I never go into a production looking at my cast as just cast members, I look at them as family,” Allentoff said. “After spending more time with the same people for at least two months, they start to grow on you. When I don’t get to see everyone for the days that we don’t rehearse, I start to miss everyone. When you are in rehearsal having fun, you don’t think about anything else going on besides the show.

“I hope everyone in the production goes out there and just has a blast. And of course, I hope that everyone who comes to see the show has a great time and can relate to the character of Frank in some form or fashion.”

Also featured in the cast are Ankit Sharma as Jeff Hanson and Vince Fay as Ralph Cella.

The crew includes producer Joe Bagnole, stage manager Grace Emley and lighting and sound technician Cheryl Ernst.