Discovering Cracking Up in Rahway

What’s a comedy show doing in the middle of Rahway?

When you’re in the mood for a nice relaxing evening of comedy, Rahway, NJ probably is not the first venue that comes to mind. However, on Sunday, March 12th, I attended a local comedy show in Rahway, NJ at the Union County Performing Arts Center entitled Cracking Up In Rahway and was pleasantly surprised by what I encountered. The show is produced by Mahogany Reynolds for Just Be You Performing Arts & Productions and featured a lineup of up and coming comics who have yet to gain national prominence.

The show was staged in the art center’s mainstage café, an intimate setting with a maximum capacity of 100 persons. Appearing on Sunday’s bill were comedians Sarah Showfety, Carl, Will Posnan, the Dog Show Sketch Comedy Troupe, Vince the comedy magician, and Keith Correy.

The audience was very welcoming and supportive of the comedians, appreciating the fact that it is not an easy task to stand in front of a room full of people and make them laugh.

Reynolds utilizes the recurring showcase as a means for promoting and launching the careers of the comics as well as other talented performers. For a number of years, Reynolds has run a youth performing arts academy in Rahway, Just Be You Performing Arts. So, in keeping with her determination to expose and highlight the talents of up and coming performers, Sunday’s show opened by featuring the vocal stylings of one of Reynold’s protégés, 15-year-old Adora McDaniel of Roselle, NJ singing “I’m Ready for Love”.

Reynolds, who herself is a multi-faceted singer, dancer, actress, writer, director and model is dedicating herself these days to promoting, teaching and mentoring others. In fact, the current comedy series was born out of Reynold’s outreach to promote, teach and mentor other performers. When word of mouth about Reynold’s performing arts workshops was brought to the attention of UCPAC executive director Brian Remo, he proposed that she come up with a series of monthly performances that could be held in the center’s mainstage cafe. Sunday’s show marked the sixth staging of Cracking Up by Reynolds who has appeared in such off-broadway productions as A Raisin In The Sun and in the independent film The Boy with the Sun in his Eyes.

Comedy show producer Mahogany Reynolds welcomes crowd at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway.

While the show is geared for an adult audience, Reynolds insists that the comedians “keep it classy”. In fact, the admonition to keep it classy was a stipulation in the casting notice that Reynolds placed on Backstage. Reynolds says that she has received and continues to receive numerous inquiries from comedians looking to be featured in the show.

Each of the comedians featured in Sunday’s show has their own individual style and comedic approach. Two of my favorites from the lineup were Vince the comedy magician, whose brusk East-coast persona and delivery strikes me as a cross between Don Rickles and Danny DeVito; and the hilarious New York comedian, Will Posnan who had only signed up only a few days prior to be on the bill.

Just Be You Productions is truly a family affair with her husband Dale Clarke functioning as photographer/graphic design director and her 7-year-old son Jeremiah acting as production assistant. Reynolds, a natural born entrepreneur, believes wholeheartedly in performers creating their own vehicles and opportunities. The founding of Just Be You Productions is allowing her to fulfill a cherished goal of building a legacy that can be passed down to her children instead of them depending on outsiders for a job.

Cracking Up in Rahway is a comedic showcase definitely worth checking out and Just Be You Productions an organization to watch out for.

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