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Review for 4th Wall Musical Theatre Inc, Upper Montclair, NJ, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Anyone who attends a performance by 4th Wall Theatre quickly sees that this is a group of extremely talented, dedicated, and inventive actors, musicians, designers, and producers. Each production has a crisp and coherent creative vision, and all of the elements work together gracefully to tell a story that never fails to move audiences. Many of those stories are rarely told, but 4th Wall is true to its mission to produce infrequently performed works. This is another dimension of the group’s inventiveness, and reflects their commitment to show the excitement of live theatre. I’ve often heard members of the audience remark, “I’d never even heard of this play, but it’s so wonderful” and “Why hasn’t this play been produced more? Everyone should see it!”

There is a kind of magic in 4th Wall productions: a palpable warmth among performers, passion and energy that spill out into the audience, interpretations that are both smart and heart-felt. Even when 4th Wall produces a play that is not a personal favorite of mine, I end up getting sucked into theatrical life that they give it – and I always find more depths and subtleties in the play than I had seen before.

What isn’t always so obvious to audiences is 4th Wall’s educational commitment. The group is the resident company at Bloomfield College, and does so much to make theatre available to students (especially Bloomfield students who are, for the most part, first-generation college students who have never seen live theatre). The company offers a deeply reduced student ticket rate, and they often host talk-back sessions for students. For one production, they allowed students to attend the dress rehearsal (for free, of course) because that was the only opportunity those students had to attend the theatre. The 4th Wall team understands the importance of welcoming young people into the arts and inviting them to engage actively with the arts: to watch college students who are not regular theatre-goers talk about a performance with these actors is to see a new and exciting world open up to them. And this motivates a new generation of theatre-lovers. For this and for all of the stories and characters they have brought to life for me, I value and appreciate 4th Wall Theatre.

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