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James Tolin Memorial Fund Presents 8th Annual Benefit, "Sordid Lives," at MCCC's Kelsey Theatre June 25-27


West Windsor, N.J. - The James Tolin Memorial Fund (JTMF) is up to its shenanigans again, as it gears up for its eighth annual theater benefit weekend. This year's raucous southern-themed comedy is the award-winning "Sordid Lives," by playwright Del Shores. The show comes to MCCC's Kelsey Theatre Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 27 at 2 p.m. A YouTube video by the production team is available for viewing here.

The Friday and Saturday shows feature a silent auction starting at 7 p.m. and a catered reception served throughout the evening. In keeping with the show's Texas backdrop, refreshments will include pulled pork and barbecued chicken sandwiches, along with desserts and other treats. Kelsey Theatre is located on Mercer's West Windsor campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road. Proceeds benefit the Open Arms Foundation and the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship Fund at MCCC.

Mourning the departed, from left to right, Kathy Garofano (leaning on casket), Alice Weber, Damian Gaeta, Glenn Calhoun and Nicole Patrick.

A boisterous evening is in store on the Kelsey Theatre stage as three generations of colorful Texans gather for the funeral of the family matriarch, Peggy, who is killed after tripping over her lover's wooden legs and hitting her head on the sink in a seedy motel room. At the story's heart is a journey of characters learning to be themselves and making peace with the family they have instead of the one they might want. The award-winning play, whose 2000 film version became a cult classic, also ran as a series on the cable network, Logo, in 2008.

Observes director Brian Bara, the movie "Death at a Funeral" is like the white bread version of "Sordid Lives." He predicts an amazingly good time for all. "It's said that 90 percent of directing is casting and I have to take a certain pride in the casting of this - and just about every JTMF show. Working with actors as talented, funny and easy-going as these folks makes my job so much easier and delightful."

Producer Tracy Antozzeski, JTMF's co-founder and president, notes that it's a great cause that keeps actors and production staff coming back year after year. "We're like a growing family," she says. The event is held in memory of James Tolin, an MCCC Theatre alumnus, who died in 2002. "We held the first theatre benefit in his memory the very next June. It's our way of honoring the memory of our friend," Antozzeski said.

Now returning for her third JTMF production, Nicole Patrick, who plays Bitsy Mae Harling, says that rehearsals have been a blast. "What a ridiculously hilarious show this is going to be. We were all in side-splitting laughter at times. I couldn't help but think how very special this organization is. They raise awareness, raise funds and lift spirits - all in the name of a loved one who was taken all too soon. And although I never had the pleasure or privilege of knowing James, I am so honored to be a part of this for a third time and to remember James in one of the best ways possible: with laughter."

Adds Tracy Hawkins, who plays Noletta Nethercott, "The only thing that will surpass the fun we're going to have doing this show will be the audience's enjoyment of the finished product!"

Also featured in "Sordid Lives" are Damian Gaeta as Ty Williamson, Kathy Garofano as Sissy Hickey, Heather MacHenry as Latrelle Williamson, Alice Weber as La Vonda Dupree, Matt Donahue as G.W. Nethercott, Rob Sampson as Wardell "Bubba" Owens, Glenn Calhoun as Odell Owens/Rev. Barnes, Jennifer Barron DeVenio as Dr. Eve Bolinger, and Doug Edelson as Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram.

Over the past seven years, the JTMF has raised approximately $60,000. Past productions have included Paul Rudnick's "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told" and "Jeffrey"; Harvey Fierstein's "Torch Song Trilogy;" Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple;" Rudnick's "Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach;" Nicky Silver's "The Altruists;" Charles Busch's "Psycho Beach Party;" and Joe Orton's "What the Butler Saw."

Tickets for the June 25 and 26 benefit shows are $25. Tickets for the June 27 show are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $12 for students. (The show contains adult themes and language and is not recommended for children.) Free parking is available next to the theater. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible. For a complete listing of adult and children's events, visit the Kelsey website.
For more information about the James Tolin Memorial Fund, visit www.jtmf.org.

For more on events at Kelsey Theatre visit:

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