Nonagenarian Ladies Glance Backward in New Musical, Bookends, at NJ Rep

News   Nonagenarian Ladies Glance Backward in New Musical, Bookends, at NJ Rep
Bookends, a new musical by Katharine Houghton, Dianne Adams and James McDowell, will make its world premiere in a staging by The New Jersey Repertory Company July 19.

Ken Jenkins, the actor widely known as the senior doctor on TV's "Scrubs," direct the piece, which concerns nonagenarian ladies — and longtime friends — who look back on their lives.

Librettist and co-lyricist Houghton is the admired actress who played the daughter in the film, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," among many roles in her career. (She is also Katharine Hepburn's niece.)


Music and co-lyrics are by Dianne Adams and James McDowell. Music direction is by Adams.

According to NJ Rep, "Bookends is the story of Madeleine Stern and Leona Rostenberg, celebrated rare book dealers, who met as young girls and forged a life-long friendship. Both in their 90s when the play opens, the women are compiling their memoirs. Flashbacks to their youth reveal them as two outspoken girls growing up in conventional families in Manhattan in the 1930s, where they are expected to marry, have children, and live close to home. But obsessed by their unusual passion for old and rare books, they resist convention to follow their dream, one that takes them on adventures all over the world and reveals to them 2,000 years of human folly, wisdom, mystery and serendipity. Based on a true story, this hauntingly beautiful musical will stay with you forever." The cast will include Pamela Bob, Susan G. Bob, Eric Collins, Matt Golden, Kathleen Goldpaugh, Robyn Kemp, Robert Lewandowski, Howard Pinhasik, Alan Souza, Eileen Tepper, Amie Bermowitz, Jenny Vallancourt and Rebecca Weiner.

Gabor Barabas, the executive producer at New Jersey Rep, stated, "We selected Bookends from a submission of over a thousand scripts that we receive each year not only because a new musical is a rare creation, but because we were drawn to the lushness of the music, and to the humor, dramatic tension, and beauty of the play. Bookends will provide local audiences with the rare opportunity of witnessing the birth of a musical. And keep in mind, you no longer have to travel to Broadway in New York to see a new musical. You can go to Broadway in Long Branch."

The creative team includes Henry Aronson (piano), Rose Riccardi (stage manager), Jennifer Paulson Lee (choreographer), Charles Corcoran (scenic design), Jill Nagle (lighting design), Patricia E. Doherty (costume design), Jessica Parks (properties), Jessica Paz (sound design) and Quinn K. Stone (technical director).

Performances are July 19-Aug. 26 at NJ Rep's home at the Lumia Theatre, 179 Broadway in Long Branch, NJ. Opening is July 21.

For information, call (732) 229-3166 or visit


The musical is not to be confused with the recent world premiere, also called Bookends, about two men looking to rebuild a friendship shattered by their testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. M.J. Feely penned the play, which appeared at Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio in Philadelphia.

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