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CTL’s ‘Heaven Help Me’ a story of family dysfunction

Family Feud

November 6, 2011
By A.M. WERTZ ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Jason Moyer has been involved in local theater since the late 1990s. Working with the Scottish Rite Players and Millbrook Playhouse, Mill Hall, Moyer has devoted much of his time to the Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St.

He has acted in or directed at least 90 plays and musicals, including CTL season opener "Chicago," "Jekyll and Hyde," "Annie," "South Pacific" and "Guys and Dolls."

Perhaps the performance that has proven to be the most fun is his current task of directing "Heaven Help Me," with showtimes set for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 12, 17 and 19 and 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Community Theatre League.

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“Heaven Help Me” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 12, 17 and 19 and 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Community Theatre League.

"I really like both acting and directing," Moyer said. "I did acting many years before I was a director. This is my seventh show to direct at CTL. I really do enjoy the directing. It's a great season for me. I'll be directing two shows this year. Next June will be 'Hello Dolly,' and I acted in the opening show, 'Chicago.' It's nice to have the balance. I'm a Libra, so I'm all about balance."

Moyer also is the artistic director for non-musicals at CTL, saying he is always involved in some capacity. As the director of "Heaven Help Me," Moyer said he has his finger in pretty much every piece of the show.

"I have to work on the set design, how the set is going to be laid out, I work with the lighting and the actors to make sure the characterizations are what I want them to be," Moyer said. "I approve the costumes. I'm literally involved in every part of the performance."

But he's not complaining.

"This has been so much fun because the cast for the show is so good," he said. "We had the ability to cast it with some veterans and some new actors. It is a fun script and the cast loves it. They are all so talented so it's just been great."

With only six people in the show, veteran actors include Steve Lindenmuth (Sam Holloway), Keith Wagner (Kevin Holloway), Brian McKeon (Fred Holloway), Beau Schemery (Rollie Holloway) and Nicole Merkel (Martha Holloway). Amanda Abright (Rita Romano) took the CTL stage during last season's lineup.

The all-adult show was written by New Jersey playwright Joe Simonelli, who will attend the 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 performance. A small reception will follow the show, along with a question-and-answer session.

According to Moyer, the recently published "Heaven Help Me," has a simple plot. When the Holloway family patriarch dies, he leaves it up to his three living sons to run the failing family business, a chain restaurant called the Luscious Onion.

The brothers each have plans for the money when the restaurant goes under, including the "black sheep" who is interested in paying off some loan sharks. Each year, a family reunion is held at the Long Island family beach house at which another brother resides. The only problem is, Fred is deceased and hasn't yet accepted his death. Fred's widow also is thrown into the mix to create a hilarious representation of a dysfunctional family.

"The best part of the show is the interaction between the brothers," Moyer said. "These grown men keep descending into an age-old argument where they end up acting like 5-year-olds. That dynamic between the brothers had to be great. And the actors couldn't do a better job stepping into their roles. It's like watching every other dysfunctional family."

Adult tickets for "Heaven Help Me" are $15. Student tickets are $8.

For more information, visit

New Jersey playwright attends Saturday evening performance

New Jersey playwright Joe Simonelli will pay a visit to the Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., to see the 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 performance of his play, "Heaven Help Me." A reception and meet and greet also will be held that evening.

CTL's Jacquie Engle said Simonelli often tries to see his productions if they are close by his hometown of Monmouth County, N.J.

According to, Simonelli has been writing and performing in plays in New Jersey since 1998. The former school teacher was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and witnessed live theatrical performances by Danny Kaye in "Two by Two" and Katherine Hepburn in "Coco." His works include dark comedies, light musicals, ghost stories, Christmas plays and dramas. Titles include "Ladies in Lingerie," "" and "Stocks and Blondes."

"Heaven Help Me" follows the dilemma of three brothers who inherit their father's restaurant chain, the Luscious Onion. The restaurant is in danger of closing and each brother hopes to profit in not-so-desirable ways. When the three meet for the annual family reunion at their Long Island beach house, they are also joined by their deceased brother, Fred, who has not yet accepted his death, and his widowed wife, who wishes to cash out to help pay for her recent divorce.

The play, which is appropriate for all ages, is sure to earn a lot of laughs, said director Jason Moyer.

"The cast members have found a way to own their parts and have really made their roles believeable," he said.

After a 2 p.m. Nov. 19 performance, Simonelli also will be a part of a talk back session with local schools and drama clubs that have been invited by CTL.

"We're all very excited," Engel said. "The cast all seems great. They are all individually hysterial people in their own rights so to get them all on stage will be well worth it."

Show times also include 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 12 and 17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 20. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students.

For more information about Simonelli, visit



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