Parental guidance suggested

Not far from the bright lights of Broadway, South Orange and Maplewood community members are making their own original contributions to theatre and performance art through Midtown Direct Rep.

This weekend, Friday May 5th through Sunday May 8th, the group presents their first original musical at the SOPAC, Rated P with book and lyrics by Maplewood resident and co-artistic director of MDR, Sandy Rustin.

According to director and co-artistic director of MDR, Jeremy Dobrish, “If you’re a parent, a grandparent, someone thinking about becoming a parent, or if you’ve ever HAD a parent, Rated P will resonate with you.”

The musical comedy about the ups and downs of parenthood was first introduced to the community in a reading last summer, making its official premiere this weekend. Summing up her creation, Rustin said that “Rated P” is a sketch comedy musical that celebrates the joys and wonders of raising kids from conception to college drop off.”

MDR is the resident theatrical company at SOPAC and “Rated P” will open at the center to much anticipation.

“We’ve nurtured ‘Rated P’ and watched it grow from a staged reading to workshop, and now to a full production,” said Michael Bollinger, Executive Director of SOPAC. “I’m jazzed to see it come to fruition.” The performance is the final production of MDR’s first season.

“Rated P” has been in the works since 2008. Ruskin drew inspiration from all of facets of motherhood, from her son’s first day of kindergarten to the difficulties of being a working mom. “Becoming a mother has fueled my life in so many ways and has certainly provided a constant flow of loving, funny, and relatable source material,” said Rustin.

Besides serving as co-artistic director of MDR and writer, Rustin is a seasoned actress herself with a resume of theater and television credits. She also regularly performs at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. A model of time management, somewhere in between the life of an actress and mother, Rustin brought “Rated P” to fruition.

Rustin said “I feel passionate about lots of things in my life, being a wife and mom, working as an actress and a writer, being a friend, daughter, sister…nothing is exclusive of anything else, it all just works together to create a full, busy, and very nice life.” Rustin explained that ‘Rated P’ is a passionate dream four years in the making.

In addition to Dobrish, at the beginning of the creation process, Rustin brought on her friends Dan Lipton and David Rossmer, award-winning composers with many theatrical productions and an off-Broadway musical under their belts, as collaborators.

“Rated P” is brought to life by a cast of four community residents, David Josefberg, Courtney Balan, Bradley Dean, and Joanna Young, who are experience Broadway actors and actresses with eleven profession Broadway credits between them. In addition, Josefsberg, Dean and Young are all parents.

However, Rustin says that you don’t have to be a parent to enjoy the musical comedy “Rated P.” She says that even non-parents can relate as a child, an aunt, or even a friend of someone who has children.

“It’s about family,” she said. “If you’ve ever had a family there’s something in it for you.”

“Rated P” has a limited run this weekend at SOPAC. Show times are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8 p.m. with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are priced at $35-45 and are available in person at the SOPAC box office or at

Meghan Dixon can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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