April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Central Players of Freehold Present ‘A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx’

On Sundays, April 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. the award-winning Central Players of Freehold will present the world premiere of Gary Morgenstein’s “A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx,” a multi-generational comedy/drama about a dysfunctional Jewish family, set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s.

The story concerns a family languishing under the thumb of a patriarch who uses emotional tyranny over his fragile middle-aged daughter to keep all members of the clan in line. When her dreamy-eyed husband dares to assert himself by buying a home in the suburbs, his unlikely ally becomes his teenage son, who dares to challenge his grandfather in an ultimate generational battle of wits and will.

Morgenstein said the story is not a depressing sociological treatise, but rather “an uplifting story of a family that overcomes its fears and differences to find a way to come together.”


A Play Whose Time Has Come

Morgenstein describes the play as a poignant glimpse of a working-class family trying to adjust to their individual conflicts as well as to the changes in the world around them. It portrays adult children who are considering leaving their crumbling Bronx neighborhood to seek the American dream of an idyllic suburban home where tomatoes can grow. Forced into upheaval, the family must evolve in more ways than one.

“A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx” he said, is “a story “whose time has come.”

The playwright continued: “In these unsettling times, theater should light a path through the terror to find ways to gain faith in ourselves and each other, aided by the timelessness and approved treatment of laughter.”


A Family’s Struggle to Connect

The director of this production, Bernice Garfield-Szitz, who serves as artistic director of the Center Players of Freehold, commented: “Even though it is set in 1968, this play examines many of the same issues we face today, including our collective struggle to survive, to communicate, and to connect in a world where there are forces beyond our control.”

Morgenstein’s novels and plays have been featured in national media outlets such as The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Parade Magazine, the New York Post, Sports Illustrated and National Public Radio.


‘Universal Identification’

When “A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx” was presented in a public reading, a member of the audience said the story evoked “a warm, ubiquitous commiseration.”

Morgenstein agrees. “No matter your background, there is a universal identification with the poignant struggle of a family finding sufficient bravery to love each other,” he said.

For more information on the production, which will be shown at Center Playhouse, 35 South Street, in Freehold, call 732-462-9093, visit www.centerplayers.org  or email [email protected].

“I’ll consider my work a success if the audience sees themselves—an uncle, a mother, a sibling—up on stage. To connect your world of fiction with the audience’s own reality is a triumph for any artist, in any field,” said Morgenstein.

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