‘A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx’ to premiere in Freehold Borough


The award winning Center Players of Freehold will present the world premiere of Gary Morgenstein’s “A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx,” a multi-generational comedy-drama set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s.

Directed by Bernice Garfield-Szita, the production will run from April 1-10 at Center Playhouse, 35 South St., Freehold Borough, according to a press release.

” ‘A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx’ is an uplifting story of a dysfunctional family who overcome their fears and differences to find a way to come together,” says Morgenstein. “In these unsettling times, theater should light a path through the terror, through faith in ourselves and each other, aided by the timeliness and approved treatment of laughter.”

“A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx” is a poignant glimpse of a working class family trying to adjust to the changes in the world around them and their own family conflicts, according to the press release.

Adult children consider leaving their crumbling Bronx neighborhood to seek the American dream of an idyllic suburban home where tomatoes can grow. The family is forced into upheaval and as a result, evolves in more ways than one.

“Art is a reflection of its time and this play, even though it is set in 1968, examines many of the same issues we are faced with today,” said Center Players Artistic Director Bernice Garfield-Szita. “From our collective struggle to survive, to communicate, and to connect in a world where there are forces outside of our control.”

The cast features Tracy Howard (Manalapan), Jackie Kusher (Jackson), Justin Marinelli (Manalapan), Lou Mastro (South Amboy), Gianna Minardi (Waretown) and Andrea Wolff (Holmdel).

Morgenstein’s drama “A Black and White Cookie,” about the unlikely friendship between a conservative African American newsstand owner and a politically radical Jew, won the 2021 Broadway World award for Best Play and Best Actor for its October premiere at Silver Spring Stage outside Washington, D.C., according to the press release.

Morgenstein’s latest play is “Free Palestine,” about the firing of a Jewish teacher of Israeli-Palestinian studies.

Center Players is currently celebrating its 20th season at Center Playhouse. In addition to presenting plays, the theater sponsors free play readings and special events, and offers dinner and theater packages with several local restaurants.

Performances of “A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx” are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for seniors and students, and $27 for adults, and are available online at www.centerplayers.org or by calling 732-462-9093.

All patrons must wear a mask while inside the playhouse and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of entering the theater, according to the press release.