If Sidney Weiner had grown up in New Brunswick in the 70s. rather than in the first quarter of this century, “High Button Shoes” might have become “High Flying Knights.”
But he didn't — and his hit proadway musical of the late '40s features the Rutgers football team of 1913 rather than the undefeated Scarlet Knights basketball team playing today in the NCAA semifinals against the University of Michigan.
When you read the credits for the play, the playwright is listed as Stephen Longstreet, the name Weiner chose after he left New Brunswick. But old-timers remember him as Sidney, whose family ran a tailor shop and who lived “in the house on Redmond Street at Codwise Avenue.”
A graduate of New Brunswick schools, he attended Rutgers for two years and his early life had to do a lot with his play, being performed Thursday, Friday
and next Saturday at North Brunswick Township High School.
“Scarlet Fever” has swept the cast and an early rehearsal was held from 10-2 today so that everyone could get to watch Rutgers on television.
In fact, the rehearsals last week were filled with stand-ins since one of the leads and other cast members were in Greensboro attending the Eastern Regional playoffs won by Rutgers.
Longstreet’s story revolves around a con man, Harrison Floy, who has run out of places to play his games so he returns to his hometown, New Brunswick, where people think of him as an honest man.
Floy and his partner, Mr. Pontdue, takei the community by storm and before you know it, they are selling swampland in an adjoining community to the townspeople. For all one knows, the land, called Longs-treetville, really could have been North Brunswick.
Also brought into play is a fictitious football player, Hubert Ogglethorpe, the Rutgers football team and a Rutgers-Princeton football game.
Although the musical is being produced by the North Brunswick Recreation Adult Drama group through the cooperation of the township Bicentennial Commission, the cast is drawn from throughout Central Jersey.
Floy is portrayed by Ken Titus of Belle Mead who works in New Brunswick at Xaloy Inc., while Pontdue is played by Shelly Gluck, a veteran' performer of amateur productions in the area. He owns and operates Gluck Shoes in East Brunswick.
The family is an educational rainbow from Papa — Stacy Holmes, elementary school principal in South Brunswick; Mama — Lynne Weinstein, a teacher at Livingston Park School in North Brunswick; to Stevie — Bob Bergamasco, a
student at Middlesex County College, Edison. Oggle, the football hero, is played bv Warren McClure, another MCC student.
Mama's sister Fran is played by Katherine Leary, a research analyst at Econ, Inc; in Princeton, while Willie, Bob McBride, is a computer repairman in New York City.
Candie Harrington, a dental laboratory office manager in Edison, plays the family maid, and newly elected board of education member Joseph Fritsche plays the football coach. Young Kevin Chandlee is Junior.
Although the production has been under way for three months, the most difficult task is being undertaken this weekend. There were 10 days in which the staging could be accomplished at the high school and there are 70 pair of fingers crossed that the carpentry and painting will be completed by Wednesday when the cast gives
a performance for senior citizens.
However Jack Sanchez and Annemarie Chandlee, production and stage managers, feel the job will be done. Summer recreation director Bruce Chandlee is directing the show and Carol Chenoweth, who moved to the area from Iowa last year when her husband began attending Rutgers, is accompanist and music director. The choreography for the show was arranged by George Warren.
A late addition to the cast was the arrival of 10 members of the Rutgers University Glee Club who will play football players and sing “Nobody Ever Died For Dear Old Rutgers” and “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.”
This is one show where the chorus has as much to do as the leads? They perform “The Castle Walk,” Model T,” “Sunday by the Sea,” and “Papa, Won’t You Dance With Me?”