NAVESINK, NJ - Fragile egos, exceptional talents and a priceless violin combine to create a complex intersection of relationships and rivalries for the Lazara String Quartet just as their breakthrough moment arrives -- a concert at the White House. The interactions and twists as the musicians prepare create the clever and nuanced story of "Opus" by Michael Hollinger and presented by Monmouth Players on Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 8:15 with Sunday matinees on Dec. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. at the theater located in the rear of the Navesink Library at the corner of Monmouth and Sears avenues in the Navesink section of Middletown.
"Opus" explores the dynamics as musicians, disparate personalities bound together only by a love of music, struggle to maintain the harmony of the group. The story unfolds in present time and in flashbacks that sharply etch the different personalities.
Carl (played by Bob Mira, Keansburg), the cellist, often appears to be above the petty squabbling that surrounds him. Alan (Charles Deitz, Tinton Falls), the most mellow member of the group, acts as the informally appointed peacemaker. Especially heated are the arguments between the uptight, controlling Elliot (Eric Walby, Red Bank) and Dorian (Bill Rogers, Woodbridge) a recently split couple who can't keep personal feelings out of the studio.
Aside from the leftover feelings of a bad breakup, Elliot and Dorian also clash over who owns and who will play the quartet's prize possession -- a matched set violin and viola made by Lazara.
When their practices become volatile, tensions mount and personalities clash, Dorian disappears under mysterious circumstances. As the date of their White House concert nears, the other musicians, left with no choice, seek a new violist and find Grace (Heather O'Scanlon, Little Silver). Inspired by the new member's talent, the group decides to abandon their planned Pachelbel Canon program and replace it with Beethoven's difficult Opus 131.
The rehearsal studio becomes a pressure cooker as the performance nears, raising the question: Will the Lazara Quartet succeed and survive?
This production, directed by Lori Renick (Highlands and with musical instruction by John Maschio (Highlands), is part of the "Not Necessarily the Players" series and marks the premiere production of the play by a local community group in the state. There is some adult language and adult relationships depicted
"Opus" received a 2007 Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, and the Arden Theatre production in Philadelphia was nominated for seven Barrymore Awards, winning for Outstanding New Play.
When it played in New York Newsday called it "a taut, smart, thoroughly entertaining drama about that most rarified of heady glories, the string quartet." The New York Post said "'Opus' plays all of its notes with an utmost precision and delicacy."
Admission is $14 for all performances. Reservations are required. Call (732) 291-9211. For more information visit www.monmouthplayers.org.
Established in 1953, the Monmouth Players is Monmouth County's oldest community theater group.