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    A look at how New Jersey alums did on the diamond during the 2017 season.


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    Prosecutors will ask for a 3-year prison term for the woman

    TRENTON -- The former office manager of a Hamilton engineering company admitted in court this week to stealing over half a million dollars over five years, officials said.

    Karen Thompson.jpgKaren Thompson 

    Karen Thompson, 45, of South Brunswick, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a theft by deception charge in Mercer County Superior Court for years of thievery from Roberts Engineering Group, where she was an office manager from 2004 to earlier this year.

    Prosecutor's will ask for a three-year prison term and restitution of $516,714 when she's sentenced in December.

    In addition to being the office manager, Thompson also handled the office's payroll, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.

    Thompson paid herself unauthorized reimbursements, from January 2012 through April of this year, by manipulating and altering computer records in the company's accounting and payroll systems.

    She was charged in May following an investigation by Hamilton Detective Matthew Bagley and state Division of Taxation Forensic Auditor Kerry Czymek.

    A representative from Roberts declined to make a comment Friday.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    A look at some of the hot topics around N.J. HS girls soccer.


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    Your one-stop shop for everything you need.

    WEEK 6 ESSENTIALS 
    Hot takes: OT thrillers, miracle finishes & more
    • 
    Top photos of Week 6

    • 
    Top recruit loses scholarship after brawl
     Mega-coverage guide 
    Midseason awards: N.J.'s best at halfway point

    22 bold predictions
    25 can't-miss games
    Top 20 picks and schedule
    Picks for all 6 conferences
    Week 6 schedule/scoreboard
    Rankings: Top 20, Group & conference


    PLUSWeek 6 hot takes: OT thrillers, miracle finishes and more 


    SATURDAY LIVE UPDATES
    Rumson-Fair Haven vs. St. John Vianney at Rutgers, 4
    Seneca at No. 12 Lenape, 7

    SATURDAY'S FEATURED GAMES 
    No. 2 Bergen Catholic 41, No. 1 St. Peter's Prep 14
     Look back at live updates
    • Game story
    •  Photo gallery

     Box score

    No. 4 St. Joseph (Mont.) 20, No. 6 Pope John 14
     Look back at live updates
    • Game story

     Box score

    Nutley 21, Orange 14, OT
     Look back at live updates
    • Game story
    •  Photo gallery 

     Box score

    Haddonfield 31, Paulsboro 0
     Look back at live updates
    • Game story

     Box score

    No. 17 Westfield 13, Elizabeth 6
     Look back at live updates
    • Game recap

    •  Photo gallery 

     Box score


    RELATED‘They tried to kill my son.’ Frosh parents say star players caused football brawl 


    Rumson-Fair Haven vs. St. John Vianney at Rutgers, 4
     Live updates
    • Game recap

    •  Photo gallery 

     Box score

    No. 12 Lenape vs. Seneca, 7
     Live updates
    • Game story

     Box score

    Salem 46, Gloucester 0
    • Game story
    •  Photo gallery 
    • Box score

    Vineland 41, Clearview 7
    • Game story
    •  Photo gallery 
     Box score

    Hamilton West at Northern Burlington, 2
    • Game story
    •  Photo gallery 

     Box score

    Nottingham 21, Notre Dame 16
    • Game story
     Box score

    Steinert 20, Hopewell Valley 2
    • Game story
     Box score

    Lawrenceville at Peddie, 3
    • Game story
     Box score

    TOP 20 SCOREBOARD
    Saturday
    • No. 2 Bergen Catholic 41, No. 1 St. Peter’s Prep 14
     No. 3 DePaul at Delbarton, 1
    • No. St. Joseph (Mont.) 20, No. 6 Pope John 14
    • No. 11 Montclair vs. Morristown, 1
    • No. 12 Lenape vs. Seneca, 7

    • No. 15 Red Bank Catholic vs. Long Branch at Rutgers, 7
     No. 17 Westfield vs. Elizabeth at Rutgers, 1

    FRIDAY'S FEATURED GAMES 
    Mountain Lakes 14, Whippany Park 7
    Late rally leads to OT win
    •  Photo gallery 

     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Clifton 32, Paterson Kennedy 26, OT
    Comeback city sees dramatic victory
    •  Photo gallery

     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Camden Catholic 25, Shawnee 21
    Stunning rally erases 18-point deficit in fourth
    •  Photo gallery 

     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Summit 31, Cranford 13
     Staunch D, Jackson Tyler's big plays lead way
    Look back at live updates
     Box score

    No. 10 Manalapan 49, No. 18 Howell 28
    Mayfield breaks loose for 5 TDs
    •  Photo gallery 

     Look back at live updates
    Box score

    Northern Highlands 42, Mahwah 0
    Mario Agyen helps team move closer to playoff spot
     Look back at live updates
    Box score


    MIDSEASON AWARDS: N.J.'s best at halfway point


    St. Joseph (Hamm.) 58, Allentown 26
    Three-headed monster overwhelms Redbirds
    •  Photo gallery 

    Box score

    North Bergen 41, Dickinson 6
    Great Santini game leads way
    • 
    Photo gallery
    Box score

    West Windsor-Plainsboro South 48, Princeton 13
    WWPS snaps home losing streak
    •  Photo gallery
    •  Max Bruno discusses victory
    Box score

    Delsea 49, Kingsway 32
    Borquet's crazy 3rd quarter decides it
    Box score

    Voorhees 23, Delaware Valley 13
    Vikings snap 8-game series losing streak
    •  Photo gallery 
    Box score

    Sterling 29, Highland 14
    C.J. Barrett produces 3 TDs
    •  Photo gallery 
     Look back at live updates
    Box score


    RELATED: Who is N.J.'s best mascot? Nominations open 


    Middlesex 22, Shore 21, OT
    Ground team wins it in air
    •  WATCH Godfrey talks about team's effort
    Box score

    Bridgeton 37, Mainland 7
    Bulldogs roll behind William, Saunders
    Box score

    Bordentown 45, Palmyra 28
    Grueling ground game too much
    Box score

    Moorestown 28, Hightstown 7 
    Hightstown can't overcome slow start
    Box score

    Belvidere 28, South Hunterdon 0
    David Kinney scores 3 TDs
    •  Photo gallery
    Box score

    TOP 20 SCOREBOARD
    Friday
    No. 7 Millville 49, Hammonton 14
    • No. 8 Rancocas Valley 28, Winslow 13
    No. 10 Manalapan 49, No. 18 Howell 28
    No. 16 River Dell 50, Ridgefield Park 22
    Old Bridge 24, No. 19 Piscataway 22
    No. 20 Old Tappan 37, Teaneck 7 


    RELATED: The 43 N.J. football teams that remain unbeaten


    STATEWIDE SCOREBOARD


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    There was a chill in the air, but the action on the football field was hotter than ever.


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    Steve Kemmlein, 59, of Wayne, was pronounced dead at the scene

    PISCATAWAY -- One person was killed and two others were hospitalized Saturday morning after a head-on crash. 

    Darrius Griffin Jr., 25, of Piscataway, allegedly crossed into oncoming traffic while driving his Nissan Altima on River Road at 4:25 a.m. and crashed into a Ford Ranger, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a release.

    The driver of the pickup, Steve Kemmlein, 59, of Wayne, was pronounced dead at the scene, the release said. 

    Griffin and his passenger were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick, where Griffin is in critical condition, according to Carey. His passenger was listed as stable, authorities said. 

    The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information can call  (732) 562-1100.

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The Diocese of Metuchen held its 16th annual ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.

    METUCHEN -- Hundreds of federal, state, county and local police officers attended the Diocese of Metuchen's 16th annual Blue Mass on Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. 

    Bishop James F. Crecchio was the principal celebrant of the Mass, which honors all active, retired and deceased law enforcement personnel from the four counties served by the diocese, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren.

    Det. Matthew Tarentino, who served with the Summit Police Department and lost his life in the line of duty in May, was specifically honored at the Mass.

    The Woodbridge Police Department was, as the host department this year, assuming leading liturgical roles during the Mass, such as serving as cross and candle bearers, readers and gift bearers.

    The Mass included a 21-gun salute, 'Amazing Grace played by pipes and drums, and the playing of taps. Afterwards, there was a flyover by a State Police aircraft as the bishop blessed the officers.

    Patti Sapone may be reached at psapone@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Instagram @psapo, Twitter @psapone.  Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    There was a chill in the air, but the action on the football field was hotter than ever. Week 6 featured close calls, frenzied finishes, winning kicks and No. 1 falling.


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  • 10/15/17--06:03: ECSNJ appoints board members
  • Board names seven new members.

     

    PISCATAWAY -- The Educational Services Commission of New Jersey has appointed seven new members to its board of directors.

    The board is made up of one representative from each school district in Middlesex County and six from districts outside of Middlesex County. All board members must be a member of the board of education or a superintendent in their home district. Board members serve a one-year minimum term.

    Newly appointed to the ESCNJ board are school superintendents Sylvia Zircher, South River Public Schools; Rosa Diaz, Carteret School District; Stephen Genco, Jackson School District; Dianne Veilleux, Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools; Scott Feder, South Brunswick School District; Graham Peabody, Spotswood Public Schools; and Beth Moroney, vice president, Edison Township Board of Education.

    The ESCNJ provides special education services to school districts throughout the state of New Jersey.

    To submit school news send an email to middlesex@starledger.com.


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    A 60-year-old gas station attendant remained in serious condition Sunday afternoon after he was shot several times during an attempted robbery, authorities said.

    SOUTH BRUNSWICK -- A 60-year-old gas station attendant remained in serious condition Sunday afternoon after he was shot several times during an attempted robbery, authorities said.

    Police responded to the shooting at 4:23 a.m. at the BP gas station at 3612 Route 27, where officers found the man suffering from several gunshot wounds. He taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he underwent surgery and remained in serious condition.

    The attendant was shot by occupants of a white vehicle that fled on Route 27, police said. Capt. James Ryan, a police spokesman, said no money was taken during the attempted robbery. 

    In a statement, Police Chief Raymond Hayducka called shootings in South Brunswick "extremely rare."

    Authorities are asking anyone with information or video taken in the area of the shooting to contact township police at 732-329-4646.

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Rescues make great pets.

    Some fun and interesting facts about cats and dogs from Nationwide pet insurance:

    * Dogs only sweat from the bottoms of their feet, the only other way they can discharge heat is by panting. Cats do not have sweat glands.

    * Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of them made with the ears.

    * A cat can jump as much as seven times its height.

    * Dogs do not have an appendix.

    * Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

    * Using their swiveling ears like radar dishes, experiments have shown that dogs can locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second.

    * A cat's tongue is scratchy because it's lined with papillae--tiny elevated backwards hooks that help to hold prey in place.

    ... and when faced with the choice of going the way around something that untangles herself or the way that makes it worse, my dog will choose the wrong way 101 times out of 100.


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    Which teams have taken a step forward and turned heads in 2017.


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    Everything to watch for as county tournaments take the spotlight over the next two weeks.


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    Brandon Cox, who prosecutors said has sexually assaulted two other victims, admitted to raping and beating a woman in front of her 9-month-old son.

    HIGHLAND PARK -- A 24-year-old man who admitted to beating and sexually assaulting a borough woman at gunpoint in front of her child was sentenced Monday to 23 years in state prison.

    Brandon CoxBrandon Cox. (Photo provided by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office)

    Brandon Cox, of the Somerset section of Franklin Township, will be required to serve 85 percent of the term before he can be released on parole. He will undergo parole supervision for life and must register as a sex offender.

    Cox, who prosecutors said has sexually assaulted three female victims in seven years, pleaded guilty in June to kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault in the Feb. 19 attack in Highland Park.

    At about 5:30 p.m. that day, Cox approached a 36-year-old woman walking with her 9-month-old son on Harper Avenue and asked for directions, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Allysa Gambarella said.

    He then pulled out a gun and forced them into the basement of a nearby apartment building, where he sexually assaulted and repeatedly punched the victim in front of her child, Gambarella said. He also stole her credit cards, she said.  

    Naked and bleeding, the victim screamed, causing Cox to flee, the prosecutor said. Police responded to the scene after the woman ran to a neighbor's home.

    She was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with a fractured skull, broken nose and brain hemorrhage, Gambarella said.

    Cox's DNA was found on a blue glove he wore during the assault at the scene, the prosecutor said. The victim's blood was later found on clothes at Cox's home, she said. 

    David Oakley, Cox's defense attorney, asked the judge to sentence his client to 20 years, arguing that he is unlikely to commit another offense upon release. He has accepted responsibility for what his attorney described as a horrific act. 

    "He's shocked himself at how he's behaved," Oakley said. 

    Cox was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, which contributed to his behavior, his attorney said. 

    Gambarella argued that there is a high chance Cox would commit another crime. He has assaulted two previous victims, admitted to watching porn involving rape and has masturbated in public on seven occasions, she said. 

    "He continues to fantasize about sexual assault," she said. "He does not have his urges under control."

    Superior Court Judge Alberto Rivas called the crime cruel and heinous. The victim, who Gambarella described as brave and strong, will live with trauma stemming from the attack for the rest of her life, he said. 

    "There is no such thing as a good rape," the judge said. "But this is a particularly bad one."

    Before he was sentenced, Cox apologized to the victim, who appeared in court and did not speak. 

    In 2010, Cox was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in a case involving a victim younger than 13, Gambarella said. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation, she said.

    Court records show that Cox was also previously indicted on criminal sexual assault charges in 2014 in Franklin Township. He pleaded guilty to charges of child abuse and neglect as part of a plea deal with the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. 

    The prosecutor's office originally accused Cox, who was 20 at the time and living in South Brunswick, of forcing a 14-year-old girl to have sex with him.  

    The teenager and her mother filed a complaint with police that accused Cox of assaulting her in her Franklin Township home on four occasions in March 2013 and April 2014, authorities said. 

    He was sentenced to 18 months as part of the plea agreement. He had already served close to 15 months while awaiting trial and was released from the Somerset County jail in August 2016, a few days after his sentencing, according to court records.

    Cox was sentenced to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law but did not, the prosecutor said. 

    There was another, unreported incident in which Cox, who was 13 at the time, forced a 10-year-old to engage in sexual acts in exchange for ice cream, Gambarella told the judge.

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    A 25-year-old North Brunswick man has been indicted on charges he shot and killed a 38-year-old New Brunswick woman in July.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A 25-year-old man has been indicted on charges he shot and killed a city woman in July, court records show. 

    Christian Cortes, of North Brunswick, was indicted last week on charges of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, according to court documents. 

    Cortes is accused of shooting 38-year-old Desiree Alvarado, of New Brunswick, on the morning of July 14 on Seventh Street between Livingston and Joyce Kilmer avenues.

    She died four days later at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, authorities said. 

    Alvarado, a mother of four, was described by family and friends at a vigil as kind and giving. She worked as a medical receptionist. 

    "She was the backbone. She held our family together," her 21-year-old daughter, Dezirae Alvarado, said in late July. "She was our glue."

    Cortes is scheduled to appear Oct. 27 before Superior Court Judge Joseph Rea in New Brunswick. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The Villa Maria also caught fire in July

    NORTH PLAINFIELD - Firefighters are battling a massive blaze early Tuesday at a long-vacant former nursing home in North Plainfield. 

    The fire broke out around 4 a.m. at the former Villa Maria Home for the Aged, a 12-acre site with multiple buildings on Somerset Street. 

    Villa Maria was a tuberculosis sanatorium that was open from 1889 to the beginning of World War I. It was later operated as a long-term nursing facility before it closed in 2002, according to MyCentralJersey.com. 

    A July fire there cause significant structural damage. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    The man entered her room on the College Avenue campus Friday afternoon

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A Rutgers University student was sexually assaulted in her dorm room Friday afternoon, authorities said. 

    The woman was in her room in Mettler Hall on the College Avenue campus with the door open when a man she didn't know walked in, kissed her and molested her over her clothing, Rutgers police said in a statement Monday night.

    She quickly pulled away from him and ordered him to leave, police said. He departed and the woman told police she was not hurt, police said

    The college-aged man is described as thin with blonde hair, police said.

    There were eight fondlings reported to police at Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick in Piscataway in 2016, five of which took place in residence halls, according to records. The previous year, the RUPD took 14 such reports, with eight taking place in dorms. In 2014, nine people were fondled, including two in residence halls.

    Anyone with information or might have been in the area is asked to call the Rutgers police at 848-932-8025.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Photos we've snapped since 2010, and we want yours too.

    UPDATE, Oct. 16, 6 p.m.: You sent us more photos, we shot more photos and we found some in the archives that we missed the first time around. From all those sources, we're well past 100 pics now. And we're happy to get more, so use the form below to send more, if you have some.

    Important note: If you sent us pics thinking you were nominating your mascot for the NJ.com mascot challenge, that won't do it. For that, we need a 30-60-second video. The deadline is coming up fast - Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. Here's lots more info.


    Some are adorable. Some are kind of scary. Some are a little puzzling. They're almost all fuzzy.

    These are New Jersey's high school mascots. The ones we've photographed since 2010 are in the photo gallery above, and, we know - we're a little heavy on cardinals, or Kardinals, as the case may be.


    RELATED: Nominations open for the NJ.com HS Mascot Challenge


    We know there are more out there than these for the 37 schools represented above, so we're looking for some help from you. When you're out there over the next few weeks enjoying some high school sports, scan the venue for something bigger, brighter and fuzzier than your typical athlete.

    When you find something, snap some pics and then use the form below to send them to us, and we'll add them to the photo gallery.

    And while you're at it, think about shooting some video, because a video is what's needed to nominate that mascot for the NJ.com HS Mascot Challenge. All the details about that project, including the Oct. 23 deadline for videos to be posted with the #NJmascotchallenge hashtag, are at the link above.


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    A look at the best players from Week 6.


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    The writers of the famed show about relationship foibles have updated the material for the age of Smartphones

    From 1996 through 2008, the episodic musical about the tribulations of courtship and everything after, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," ran for over 5,000 performances at New York's Westside Theater -- the second-longest stretch in off-Broadway history, surpassed only by the 17,000-plus, 40-year-plus run of "The Fantasticks".

    That success seems to have grown out of well-worn tropes of gender and relationships: single men have dirty kitchens; women take forever to get ready to go out; first dates are awkward; married couples struggle to find time for sex; etc., ad infinitum. Safe, predictable jokes coupled with simple, jaunty tunes is a formula sure to please every time it is trotted out.   

    After engagements in 250 cities around the world, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" has arrived in New Brunswick, where the George Street Playhouse mounts it to open its temporary new space during an ambitious two-year construction project that will give George Street and the Crossroads Theatre Company a new home in downtown New Brunswick. (For its temporary space, the company has done impressive work to convert a former agricultural museum on the Rutgers campus into a fully functional theater.) 

    But this is not the same old "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." George Street artistic director David Saint asked the show's creators, two-time Tony winner Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics, enjoying the sixth production of his work at the New Brunswick theater) and Jimmy Roberts (music), to revisit their work for a new age of the smartphones. So in this current version, women are advised to Google their date before meeting; Tinder is prominent; and men cannot resist sending their dates picture messages of their manhood (marking two shows in a row at George Street with actors pantomiming crotch-shots: an impressive streak).

    This material is new, but the show's formula remains tediously consistent: isolate a common foible of love, set it to music, work in a few punchlines, and move on.

    DiPietro is not here interested in characters or much of a plot: the show shares characteristics with a jukebox musical, with performance numbers strung together along a loose narrative arc from dating through marriage and family to death. The adroit cast members, with roles dubbed only Woman 1 (Lindsay Nicole Chambers), Woman 2 (Karen Burthwright), Man 1 (Mitchell Jarvis), and Man 2 (George Merrick), move rapidly and successfully in and out of a large variety of roles. Each performer boasts the pipes capable enough to carry a show that is almost entirely song ,as well as the acting chops to inhabit many different characters.

    The show's best moment is its closing scene at a funeral parlor: Chambers and Merrick have a great deal of fun as golden-aged regulars at local wakes. Saint directed this production, and his clear investment in making each scene distinctive -- while also in dialogue with the rest of the show -- pays off. The four-piece orchestra is not called on for any fireworks, but they perform dutifully (acoustics in this temporary space are significantly better than they were in the old theater downtown).

    In the end, the show offers some chuckles, but there is not much here to excite or surprise. Like a light comedy on network television (wasn't "Will & Grace" also just revived from the 90s?), "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," is far more comfortable exploring terrain well-travelled and time tested to be a safe resource of a few after-dinner laughs.   

    I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

    George Street Playhouse

    9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick

    Tickets online www.GSPonline.org or by phone (732) 246-7717. Running through November 12th.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at patrickjmaley@gmail.com. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.


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