Monmouth Players Keep Up With The Joneses

February 3, 2018
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David Beil and Lori Renick star as Bob and Jennifer Jones in “The Realistic Joneses,” the Monmouth Players production.

By Mary Ann Bourbeau |

NAVESINK – Bob and Jennifer Jones have new next-door neighbors – John and Pony Jones. When they meet and discuss their lives, the two suburban couples realize they have more in common than their shared last name.

Playwright Will Eno wanted to show an “inside look at the people who live next door, the truths we think we know and the secrets we never imagined we all might share.”

“I think it’s a play about everyday life,” said Melanie Taylor, who is directing a Monmouth Players production of The Realistic Joneses. “It’s one of those plays that people are going to relate to. There are moments when it’s hysterically funny, but it has sad moments mixed in. I think the audience is going to love it.”

The four-person play stars area residents Samantha Ambler, David Beil, Stephen Hirsekorn and Lori Renick. “A friend of mine has been talking about this play for several years,” said Renick, who also serves as artistic director for Monmouth Players. “I read it and I fell in love with it. It’s fun and quirky and different. It’s really about people, how they deal with their relationships, illness and with each other.”

The Realistic Joneses ran on Broadway in 2014, starring Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts, Michael C. Hall and Toni Collette. The story takes place at one couple’s home in a small town somewhere near the mountains. The play received a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.

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Taylor, who has been the drama teacher at Raritan High School for 20 years, met Renick when they worked on a show together three years ago at the Holmdel Theatre Company. “Lori asked me to join Monmouth Players and I’ve had a blast ever since,” she said.

As is tradition, Monmouth Players will treat the audience to coffee and dessert, but it will be before and after the show since there is no intermission. The dessert reception is a tradition that the acting company has carried on for decades. When Renick and her husband Paul came on board – he serves as board president and set builder – they expanded from just serving cookies to cheese and crackers, dips and homemade desserts. “People really like it,” she said. “Hospitality is a big thing for us. Whether people are new or have been coming here for 20 years, we want them to feel comfortable.”

Monmouth Players was formed in 1953 and performed in several different locations until establishing a home in the 60-seat Navesink Arts Center, located at 149 Monmouth Ave. in the Navesink section of Middletown. The Realistic Joneses will be staged at 8:15 p.m. Feb. 3, 10 and 17, and 2 p.m. Feb. 4, 11 and 18. Tickets are $20 general admission; $17 for seniors and students; and $10 for active and retired military. For more information, visit This show is dedicated in loving memory to John R. Sheehan, a past board member, recording secretary and cast member who died on Jan. 22 at age 81.

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Arts and entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at

This article was first published in the Feb. 1-8, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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