Taking a break from its usual program of touring Shakespeare, the Hudson Shakespeare Company of Jersey City delves into a modern story that is known as a classic film but not as a stage play. In honor of the film’s 60th anniversary, the company will be producing a stage adaptation on:
•Saturday, October 11@1pm at The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, 435 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
•Sunday, October 12 @1pm at The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, 435 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
•Saturday, October 18 @7:30pm at Fort Lee High School Auditorium, 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ
•Sunday, October 19 @7:30pm at Fort Lee High School Auditorium, 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ
When people think about the movie ”On the Waterfront” usually impressions that come to mind are Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and the fact that it was mostly shot in Hoboken come to mind. Also, the famous “I could have been a contenda!” scene of Brando’s has become something of a parody as people often try a Brando imitation with this famous line. This usually has more to do with his put on voice in “The Godfather” and some other campier roles. Nothing could be further from the truth in either the scene from the film or the nature of the story itself.
(Terry Malloy (Chris Botte) tells Edie (Noelle Fair) about his days as a prize fighter in a scene from Hudson Shakespeare’s stage adaptation of “On the Waterfront”)
SYNOPSIS: The story of “On the Waterfront” is about dreams denied and oppression on both the personal and societal level by those in power. In Hudson Shakespeare’s stage production Terry Malloy (Chris Botte) is a has-been at 29. He used to be a prized fighter who headlined fights at Madison Square Garden and now spends his days being a low level mob enforcer, dock worker and his only pleasure in life is tending to pet pigeons that he treats as his children. One night Terry is asked by his brother Charley “The Gent” Malloy (Alex Falaco), a mafia golden- boy, to take part in silencing a local dock worker named Joey Doyle. Doyle has been trying to organize their union against the mob boss “Johnny Friendly” Skelly (Jon Ciccarelli). Skelly’s mob has been keeping the locals in poverty taking most of their dock pay in kick-backs or not allowing them to work at all altogether. Terry believes that they are just going to simply rough up Joey to get him to stop his activities but the event takes a dark turn when Joey is instead thrown off the roof of his tenement.
The murder shocks but doesn’t surprise the neighborhood as Joey’s Pop (Larry Frank) and Joey’s best friends Runty (Charley Close) and Tommy (Dante Guilliano) try to come to terms with Joey’ sudden death. While they are angry, they know that nothing can be done. The police are bought and paid for by Johnny Friendly and any retribution will lead to more killing, so they must remain “D n D”, deaf and dumb. Joey’s firebrand sister Edie (Noelle Fair), who has been raised away from the neighborhood, doesn’t take this tact but instead seeks justice against Joey’s killers. Edie allies with the only man who will listen to her pleas, the not quite comfortable in his skin Father Pete Barry (Scott Manganelli). Father Barry reluctantly accepts to try and help Edie but knows it will be an uphill battle not only against the mob controlled waterfront but his own church hierarchy who is also the pay from the mob.
As Father Barry tries to evoke some small change but getting the dock workers to organize it instead leads to Runty getting roughed with a baseball bat but also brings together Edie and Terry. Terry continually tries to dissuade Edie from pursuing justice against Joey’s killers never divulging his full involvement. The idealistic Edie and the cynical Terry collide but find a common bond and attraction to each neither are what the other expected. Father Barry convinces Runty to turn state’s evidence to the Waterfront Crime Commission which results in a rough end for Runty. Escalating the desperation, the Crime Commission is after Terry to testify against Johnny Friendly. Terry is torn between has family, the mob family, his new found love for Edie and a crisis of conscience to confess his involvement with Joey’s murder.
Director Gene Simakowicz has always been a fan of the movie but was intrigued when he learned that there were several stage versions and delighted when asked by Hudson to direct this production. “I love the era and getting to the meet of the story,” he said. “People love the movie, but you have to forget the movie as that clouds any fresh take on the main story. I tell my actors don’t watch the film and try to imitate it. Do your own take. I have each actor provide an on the spot biography where I ask them as the character, ‘who are you?’ ‘How did you get here?’ ‘What are you looking to get out of this person’ and this allows them to concentrate on the character story and not the film, Simakowicz said on his approach to directing the piece.
Hudson Shakespeare Company is producing this adaptation with The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery will be fundraisers for the upkeep of the historic sight. A $10 suggested donation is asked for admission and concessions will be sold. Both cemetery shows are at 1pm and will be under tents in case of inclement weather. The show will also be held at Fort Lee High School Auditorium at 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee on Sat, Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 19 both at 7:30pm and admission for these shows are $10. The show’s second weekend are being produced in partnership with the Fort Lee Film Commission. All tickets can be purchased at the door. Please contact http://www.jerseycitycemetery.org/ and http://www.fortleefilm.org/ for advanced sales on their respective shows.
Hudson Shakespeare was established in 1992 and regularly produces a summer touring Shakespeare program performing lesser done Shakespeare works and unique takes on more popular titles. They also produce modern shows as second stage productions some of which included “Inherit the Wind” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” recently performed in Fort Lee’s municipal courtroom. For more information on all the shows, call 973 449 7443 or visit www.hudsonshakespeare.org .