Newark Native to Put on Theater Production at NJIT

By Christine Valdez
Web Production Assistant

Flyer for “I Can’t Love Because of You.” Courtesy of Michael Jones.

For Newark native Michael Jones, his upcoming production allows him to return to the stage — something that has meant a lot to him.

Jones will be putting on his first production at NJIT May 7 — “I Can’t Love Because of You,” which has been in the works since 2010, following the passing of Jones’ grandmother.

“I wrote this play a month after my grandmother passed away in 2010,” said Jones. “I guess it was my way of grieving, just letting my emotions out.”

About 126 pages later, Jones had a script with topics such as bullying and domestic violence. He thought that the play would not only allow him to entertain an audience, but bring attention to serious topics that are seen and heard outside of entertainment.

“I love entertaining people, I love making people laugh,” said Jones. “This play, it has its comedic parts, but it’s sending a very strong message and I’m trying to get across to people. With those serious topics, I really want to bring a real alert to those things.”

Although the script has been ready and finished since 2010, the play has been on hold since Jones’ last production in 2009 — “Love Makes You Do Crazy Things.” Jones said that he tried to continue writing and acting in plays but that he was working get his degree and had to put theater on hold to pursue his education. Although he continues to work on his education, Jones says that he had the urge to get back on stage and produce the play he had worked on.

“It’s like an itch you got to scratch, it’s like a drug. I had to get back on stage,” Jones said. “I missed it, I craved it. I desired to get back on and I always told myself when I do my next play, I want to do this one.”

Now as showtime approaches, Jones has partnered with TAG, a group featuring actors from Rutgers and NJIT, to produce the show. When Jones met with members of TAG during an event in 2013, he had mentioned his desire to produce his next play, following his 2009 production at Essex County College.

During his first encounter with TAG, Jones says that he told members how much the play meant to him and how he wrote it after his grandmother’s death. He said that they sensed how much he wanted to produce the play and the passion that he has for theater and the entertainment business.

“I think they saw my hard work and dedication to do all these things and when they saw that I really explained to them, I really want to do this show. They were more than willing to help me produce this production,” Jones said.

Although the script for the play had been ready for years, production of the show suffered a few delays and setbacks along the way. Winter storms pushed back the show’s premiere date, and the weather had even delayed the audition process.

A few changes in the script were also made along the way, according to Jones, but he says that he is ready to put the show into production and perform for the audience along with the cast and crew.

“My mindset is this — people are paying their hard earned money to come see us perform and I want to make sure we put on a great show,” said Jones.

Jones plans to hold two performances between May 7 and 8, with a capacity of 400 audience members per show. He says that it will be the biggest production he has produced to date. He says that while he doesn’t know what is going to happen, he wants to put on a good show.

“My expectations for me and my cast, I would say my expectations are to make sure that we go out and just have a good time, enjoy the moment,” said Jones. “I just want me and my cast to enjoy the moment and to go out there and just have fun and give the audience a great show.”

“I Can’t Love Because of You” will be held at the Jim Wise Theater at NJIT May 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. General admission is $5 and student tickets cost $3.