West Windsor, N.J. – Poking fun at theater and theater people has become a popular subgenre that winks and nods straight to the funny bone. For one weekend only, M & M Stage Productions presents theater parody at its best at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre with Lawrence Casler’s “A Night in the Theatre” and Christopher Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare.” These delightful one-acts will be performed Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 and 25 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Jan. 24.
“A Night at the Theatre” features two couples who are at the theater for their weekly dose of culture, this time in the form of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” What ensues between Margaret and Stanley (Jennifer Nasta Zefutie and Peter Bisgaier) and Donna and Walter (Diana Maurer and Dave Christofferson) is theatrics of a different sort, as they chatter incessantly about themselves, their children, dead friends, hunger – and even occasionally Hamlet. Secrets emerge and friendships unravel. Audience members will join in the joke as they recognize these obnoxious theatergoers as the people who sometimes sit behind them!
In “The Actor’s Nightmare,” an accountant (Tim Moran) wanders on stage, where he is confronted by Meg (Morgan O’Neil Petronis), the stage manager. She informs him that he is the understudy for the lead actor and that he must perform in the lead’s stead. Inexplicably, he is referred to as "George" and “Stanley” throughout the play, despite his feeling that neither one is his name. Adding to the strangeness, he cannot remember attending any rehearsals or, in fact, being an actor at all. And no one will tell him the name of the play! One actor, Sarah (Gina Rose Tiso), tells him that it is a Noël Coward play, while another actor, Ellen (Jennifer Nasta Zefutie), tells him it’s a play by Samuel Beckett. A third actor, Henry (Dave Christofferson), reads from “Hamlet.” Literally shoved on stage, George tries to improvise his lines, but the plot keeps shifting between the plays as he finally learns that his role is that of Sir Thomas More – and the execution scene seems a bit too real for his liking. He tries to convince himself that he is merely in a dream…but is he?