Troupe brings rock musical to Parlin

‘Leader of the Pack’ showcases songs of late’50s, early ’60s


GREG HOLMES The Main Street Theatre Co.'s cast for "Leader of the Pack" will perform the show Aug. 7-22 at the theater on Bordentown Avenue in Parlin. Tony Adase is directing, with musical direction by Andrew Macirowski and choreography by Patrick Starega. GREG HOLMES The Main Street Theatre Co.’s cast for “Leader of the Pack” will perform the show Aug. 7-22 at the theater on Bordentown Avenue in Parlin. Tony Adase is directing, with musical direction by Andrew Macirowski and choreography by Patrick Starega. SAYREVILLE — Rock and roll is alive and well.

At least it will be this week in Parlin as the talent of the Main Street Theatre Co. put on “Leader of the Pack,” a musical encompassing rock hits of the late ’50s and early ’60s by groups such as the Dixie Cups, the Shiffons, the Ronettes, the Shirelles and Tina Turner.

The musical, which follows the life and music of songwriter Ellie Greenwich, will feature such hits as “Do Wah Diddy,” “Be My Baby,” “Goin’ to the Chapel,” “Hanky Panky,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” “We’re Gonna Make it After All,” and “Leader of the Pack.” The music comes from songwriters Greenwich, Jeff Barry and Phil Spector, famous for their “Wall of Sound” style.

The musical will follow the ups and downs of Greenwich’s personal life and career from the 1950s on. Greenwich supervised the script’s creation in the early 1980s.

Tony Adase of Manalapan will be making his second directorial appearance at the Main Street Theatre after directing “To Kill a Mockingbird” in April. Adase has directed more than 150 shows in the last 30 years for both community and professional theater groups.

Adase said he favors “Leader of the Pack” for its hit music, a feature that will appeal to crowds of all ages.

“People are nostalgic about this kind of music. It’s what they were brought up on,” he said. “This kind of music doesn’t just pop up anymore.”

Adase, who said he loves listening to and singing these songs, enjoys directing the show because it features the music of his youth.

“I was always a rock and roll fan, it’s what I grew up with,” he said. “This show came along about the people who actually wrote all the songs I enjoy, and I thought ‘Hey, let me do it.’”

Despite the familiar music, directing this show did not come without its challenges. Since the 20-person cast ranges in age from 17 to early 30s, Adase said it was difficult to interest them in music from an earlier era.

“Most of the people on the cast were brought up after The Beatles, with the music of now,” he said. Another challenge was finding people who are good at both singing and dancing.

Choreographer Patrick Starega, a Drew University theater major with almost 20 years’ experience, said his biggest challenge was joining the team after the cast had already been set.

“I had no idea about people’s abilities prior to rehearsing, so I had to come in with several different ideas for numbers,” he said. “It worked out well because the cast is hard working and dedicated, so I was able to go with the more challenging choreography while still keeping it relevant to the show’s time period.”

Despite the challenges, Starega said the whole experience has been a blast.

“The fun thing for me is the challenge of working the time-period dance styles into a theatrical way of presenting them and making the dance speak for the piece,” Starega said. “The cast has been so much fun and dedicated to making the show as good as it can be.”

The cast has been rehearsing for about five weeks and is made up mostly of actors who live within a 20-mile radius of the theater.

The musical will debut Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. It will run for three weekends until its close on Aug. 22. The show will start at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office an hour-and-a-half before the show starts or online at Those interested can also call the box office at 732-553-1153 for tickets. Tickets are $18; $16 for seniors and students; and $12 for children under 12 years old. The Main Street Theatre is located at 3018 Bordentown Ave. in Parlin.

“You can’t just turn on the radio and play this kind of music anymore, so it’s exciting when someone puts it up so you can hear it and enjoy it,” Adase said.