Holmdel writer’s play staged in Rahway


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HOLMDEL Aiming to shed a comedic spotlight on one man’s extraordinary relationship with his four-legged friends, resident and playwright Mike Sockol will debut his latest play “Pets (and Their Humans).”

In “Pets (and Their Humans),” a widower’s life is turned upside down when his dog and cat start giving him advice. Can he really talk to animals or is he losing his mind? The play offers a funny and poignant look at the role pets play in our lives. The perfect show for any pet lover, according to a prepared statement.

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Written by Sockol and directed by Beatriz Esteban-Messina, the play will take place at 8 p.m., on July 7 and 8, at the Loft at Union County Performing Arts Center, located at 1601 Irving St., in Rahway.

The play also will at take place at 2 p.m. on July 9, at the same location. Tickets cost $12 each, according to a prepared statement.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Angel P.A.W.S, according to a prepared statement.

“The show is being produced by Fearless Productions of Rahway. Kristin Barber, who is the owner/CEO of Fearless Productions, loves cats and runs a ‘cat café’ that allows people to interact with straw cats and unwind. I love her passion for pets, and I told her that I would love to use the play to help support a local shelter, and she chose Angel P.A.W.S, which supplies cats for the Rahway Kitty Hall,” Sockol said.

“I wrote the play last year. I completed a first draft in six weeks and have been fine-tuning it ever since. We casted the show in the spring and have been rehearsing since May,” according to Sockol.

“Pets is a comedy, but it does deal with some serious themes, such as death and loss. It’s about a widower whose life is turned upside down when his dog and cat start giving him advice. I have three pets myself, two dogs and a cat, and each of them are featured in the play, although, of course, played by human actors. I’ve been wanting to write a play that explored the interaction of pets and humans for a while,” Sockol said. “We naturally give our pets ‘human’ characteristics and we openly welcome them into our families. For example, each of my pets have unique communications styles, and a defined sense of awareness. While writing this play I kept asking myself: what are they really thinking, what’s really going on their heads?”

“I want to add, I just love my cast. The energy and enthusiasm they have for the script is remarkable. A dream for any playwright.”

He has been in the communications business for more than 30 years, currently serving as a senior vice president for internal and executive communications for a large financial institution in New York City, according to Sockol.

“I had been involved in theater when I was in high school and college, but had [not] done much since, when I was cast in a local production by the Holmdel Theater in 2014. The director of the show managed a new theater company that was organizing a festival of plays in Rahway, and I was asked to submit something,” Sockol said. “I had never written a play before, but I had an idea for a short piece, went home, and wrote it in about four hours. I got another idea and completed my second play in two days. Excited by this sudden burst of creative energy, I decided to try a longer work, inspired by an annual horseshoe tournament organized by one of my brothers, and the play, ‘Horseshoes,’ was selected for a festival in New York City in 2015 and later nominated for Best Original Play by the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters in 2016.”

“I suddenly realized that the playwriting format suited me very well, because professionally, I had been using “story telling” as key communications technique for years and I had done speechwriting, so I am comfortable writing in a natural, conversational style. I also have a strong discipline for deadlines, and find that I can write short pieces in a week and full-length works in about six. Since the fall of 2014, I have completed 18 works of various lengths, and roughly half of them have been staged in local theaters,” Sockol said.

“A big sell-out crowd would be nice. But when you put on a play you hope for two things:  you want to entertain and you want to make people think. I hope to open people’s eyes a little bit about the relationship they have with their own pet, and learn a little bit about themselves as well,” Sockol said.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.ucpac.org or call 732-499-8226.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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