Small Town, Big Talent: South Orange Lures Talent From the Apple

New Jersey Village Popular With Broadway Actors

Heard about that Spider-Man musical? Analysts are predicting it'll cost $50 Million to produce.

That's Manhattan theater prices for you.

It's no wonder some Broadway talent has decided to mount some much less expensive productions-- west of the Hudson River.

At the South Orange Performing Arts Center, they've even got a Tony-nominated actress in a new staged reading of a show called "The Girl In The Frame."

"We all live out here," said Christiane Noll, who got her Tony nod for the Broadway production of Ragtime. "And we all thought why in the world is there no resident theater company that exists here," she said of the Performing Arts Center, known to locals as SoPac.

Since others in the troupe refer to South Orange as the place where Broadway "comes home to sleep," it seemed a natural fit ro try and experiment: start producing plays with Broadway actors, writers and producers. The company is called Midtown Direct Rep, named for the NJ Transit train which links the community to Manhattan within 35 minutes.

"You don't actually have to get on the train," said Jeremy Dobrish, the artistic director. "People are seeing performers,  who they've seen on Broadway, here in their backyard."

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