The Prisoner of Second Avenue

February 10-26, 2023

Mel Edison is a 47 year old advertising executive who is at war: with New York City, with his neighbors, and most of all with himself. After being laid off from his job of 22 years, Mel suffers a nervous breakdown. When his devoted wife, Edna, goes back to work, Mel becomes a virtual prisoner in his own home, unsure of what the future holds. But it looks like things might get better for him, with the help of his wife, his family, and a really big shovel.

Meet the Cast 


Michael Tota (Mel Edison)

Michael is happy to be back on stage at Center Players.  He was last seen on stage in 2016 as the dad in Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions.   Most recently he directed Last of the Red Hot Lovers, California Suite, Lend Me a Tenor, and Lovers and Other Strangers. Other roles include: Ben in The Sunshine Boys, Leo, in Chapter Two, Teach in American Buffalo, Mortimer in Arsenic and Old Lace, Renfield in Dracula and Father Mark in the Regional tour of Tony and Tina’s Wedding.   

He has a starring role in the short film The Struggle which will show at the Garden State Film Festival in March. He has a supporting role in the film Who’s Jenna? Available on Amazon.  Michael also serves on the Center Players Artistic Board.

Rebecca Grossman (Edna Edison)

Rebecca is thrilled to return to the stage for her fourth Center Players production. Most recently, she played Babe in Crimes of the Heart (directed by Anthony Marinelli). Previous stage credits include Lovers and Other Strangers (directed by Michael Tota), Picnic, Seussical the Musical, and Urinetown. When she is not performing, Rebecca is a speech-language pathologist and speech coach specializing in voice/ swallowing disorders, accents/ dialects, and executive presence. SO MANY THANK YOUS to Anthony, Michael, D-Nice, the wonderful cast and crew, the best friends and family of all time, and her husband Jason.

Jerry D. O'Donnell (Harry Edison)

Jerry is returning to the stage after a 30-year hiatus when he played Lucas Bregman in Neil Simon‘s Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Since that time, he has written, directed, and starred in a feature film, Sleeping in a Dream which is available on Amazon, prime and YouTube. He performs standup all over the East Coast. He has worked on various television shows, as either Co Star, recurring or guest star. Credits include Spin City, Law and Order, Royal Pains, and Marvel’s Daredevil. In addition, he has appeared in HBO’s Show me a Hero, (directed by academy award winner Paul Haigis), Mr. Robot, Billions which aired on showtime, New Amsterdam on NBC and most recently, NBC’s The Blacklist, which will be airing in April. I want to thank my childhood friend Michael Tota as well as Anthony for giving me this opportunity once again to get up on stage and play this great role. I Look forward to working with everyone. Sending love to my wife Andrea, and two daughters Amanda and Ava for supporting my crazy career! 

Tracy Howard (Jessie)

Tracy is so fortunate to be returning to the Center Player stage, after recently performing A Tomato Can’t Grow in The Bronx and the staged reading of Free Palestine

Tracy began her career as a dancer, appearing in films, such as Center Stage and performing at Radio City Music Hall.   She has performed in theatre, soap operas and small roles in TV and Film.  Some of her favorite stage roles were in performances of Brighton Beach Memoirs, Chicago, and A Chorus Line.   Her first love will forever be acting.

She has worked as an audience coordinator, producer and is currently a researcher for a long running Court TV Show.

A huge thank you to Andrew and family, for sacrificing their schedules to allow her to do what she loves.

Maureen Blair (Pearl)

I am so excited to be part of this show, playing one of Mel’s sisters.  This is my first role in over twenty years, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this production.  Many thanks to Anthony, our director, for casting me and to everyone in this talented cast and crew.  I would also like to thank my husband and family for their support. Hope everyone gets the jokes (from the 70s) “take some coffee”.  

RoseMarie Franklin (Pauline)

RoseMarie is beyond excited to be part of the cast of Prisoner of Second Avenue.  RoseMarie was most recently seen as Mrs. White in Theater 82’s Fall 2022 production of “Clue, as Marmi in Little Women, Jane in Men are Dogs and Diane in Old Ringers during the First Avenue Theater’s 2021/2022 production season, Maria Volpe in the 2019 production of They Call it Gravy; We Call It Sauce and previously as Frau Blucher in the Brundage Park’s 2018 Fall production of Young Frankenstein.  She is grateful to Anthony for giving her this opportunity to play a woman of a certain age who is Not boring.  And, lastly, thank you to her kids and her wife who support her in following her dreams. 

Anthony Marinelli (Director)

Anthony has written and directed for both stage and screen, including his upcoming film, Why I Had To Kill You While You Slept. On the NYC stage, he produced and directed Fool for Love and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. His original one-act plays include Acoustic Space (Winner Best Play, 2014 Strawberry One-Act Festival), Another Famous Dead Artist, Max & Domino, and Visitors. His film adaptation of Acoustic Space won Best Short in the 2018 Ridgewood Guild International Film Festival and Best Original Screenplay in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival. Another short, Walt Whitman Never Paid For It, by Angelo Berkowitz, won the Audience Choice Award at the Richmond International Film Festival in 2014.

At Center Players, Anthony has directed staged readings of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Speed-the-Plow as well as Signature Series Presentations Play It Again Sam, Chapter Two, Butterflies Are Free, Same Time Next Year, Prelude to a Kiss and Crimes of the Heart. 

He would emphatically like to thank his incredibly talented cast for their hard work and unflagging dedication (as someone once said, “dying is easy, comedy is hard”) and Center Players for always giving him room to play. Finally, Anthony would like to thank his family for their patience while he spent long hours away from home (again), especially his wife, Alice-Ann, for her enduring support, understanding, and love.

Roberta Fallon (Producer)

Roberta is very pleased to be producing her 17th show for Center Players. She enjoys working as a producer, as it allows her the opportunity to work with many different directors, and to take part in the development of a show from first audition to opening night. She has also appeared on Center Playhouse stage as Helen the Maid in A Doll's House, Mrs. Rodgers in And Then There Were None, and Irma Kronkite in Picnic, and various roles in Classic Radio Road Show’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Roberta serves on the Business Board of the theater as secretary. In Addition, at most performances she can be found serving up refreshments and mingling with the patrons, telling them about all the wonderful events happening at the theater. She is also Vice-President and co-owner, with her husband Sheldon, of The Leigh Insurance Agency in Freehold. She is extremely pleased to once again be working with such a professional, talented director as Anthony, as well as this talented cast, who bring each individual character to life so beautifully. She thanks her husband Sheldon for encouraging her to join him at Center Players and being her biggest supporter. She looks forward to continuing to bring award winning theater to the community.

Denise Warren (Stage Manager) 

Denise has been involved with theatre all her life, on stage, in the pit band, and behind the scenes. She began making costumes for anime and science fiction conventions, then started making costumes and props for community theatre productions including MacbethA Midsummer Night’s DreamPeter Pan, and The Three Musketeers. At Center Players she was stage manager for Butterflies Are Free, Same Time Next YearPrelude to a KissCalifornia SuiteCrimes of the Heart, and Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and appeared onstage in The Bishop’s Wife. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with Anthony Marinelli again, with this wonderful cast…and really everyone associated with Center Players!