After writing, directing and producing plays for the North Bergen Players theatre group for the last two decades, Maurena Luzzi, the executive director of the group, knows what her audiences want and crave.
“They want comedies,” said Luzzi, who has been involved with the North Bergen Players for the last 22 years. “The audiences want to laugh. We tried to do dramas and sometimes we do mysteries, but the ones they like the best are the comedies. They all ask me, ‘When are you doing another comedy?'”
The answer is this weekend.
The North Bergen Players will perform an original comedy written by Luzzi entitled “If The Truth Be Known,” over a two-weekend run beginning Friday night, April 27, at 8 p.m.
The show will be performed at the North Bergen Players Theater, directly adjacent to the North Bergen Free Public Library at 8411 Bergenline Ave. It will run Friday through Sunday, April 27-29 and May 4-6.
The comedy features a businessman named Herman and his family, and the zany adventures that take place after Herman’s wife pleads with him to take her to Hawaii on a vacation.
“The problem is that Herman can’t swim,” Luzzi said. “He can’t even float. The only place where he can handle water is in the shower. So he decides to take swimming lessons from a private instructor three nights a week, but he breaks his leg in doing so and has to make up a string of excuses to his wife.”
Herman’s wife then thinks that he is having an affair and mayhem ensues.
“It’s a comedy of errors from that point on,” Luzzi said.
Luzzi said that she wrote the play just two months ago on a whim.
“I heard someone talking about having a broken leg, and that’s how the whole thing started,” Luzzi said. “It just hit me and from there, the play was born. That’s how it happens some times; one little idea gets the whole thing started.”
Luzzi said that she has once again compiled an excellent cast of dedicated actors and actresses that have given of their time to perform the show.
There is a cast of 12, with eight of the 12 North Bergen residents, including Luzzi and her 8-year-old granddaughter, Anna Hernandez, who is making her acting debut in the show.
“It’s nice to have a big cast, and I wrote them all in,” Luzzi said. “The play has some great characters in it.”
Samuel Napolitano has the lead role of Herman.
“I’m actually honored that Maurena wrote the play with me in mind,” said Napolitano, a veteran of North Bergen Players’ performances in the past. “It’s something I like and the challenge is hard, considering I’m not having an affair, I’ve never broken my leg, and I’m not even married. I usually play off-the-wall characters, so this is right in line. I’m having a great time, but then again, working with Maurena is great. She writes fun shows and they’re funny. We have a tough time getting through rehearsals because we’re laughing all the time.”
Napolitano has another advantage over Herman.
“I can swim,” Napolitano said.
Others in the cast include North Bergen residents Marilyn Mideaker, Maryann Flores, Carol Szwei, Ema Mitrovic, Kathleen Tarabocchia, Diane Taylor, and Rob Ado. Alex Guerra is also a member of the cast and a North Bergen native who just recently moved, but returned to do the show.
“We have a nice cast and they want to be involved,” Luzzi said. “When I write the plays, I want to get as many people involved as possible.”
And after 22 years, nothing detracts from Luzzi’s love of the theater.
“I love what I do,” Luzzi said. “It’s in my blood. I never get tired of it. As long as the people keep coming back, the cast and the audiences, then I’ll keep doing it. We have something good going here.”
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org The North Bergen Players’ production of the original comedy, “If The Truth Be Known,” written and directed by Maurena Luzzi, will be performed on weekends Friday, April 27 through Sunday, May 6. The Friday and Saturday night performances are slated for 8 p.m. and the Sunday shows are scheduled for 5 p.m. Tickets for the show are priced at $12 and can be purchased by calling (201) 854-7470. Reservations are recommended.