Michael Tucker’s comedy ‘Fern Hill’ explores aging friends and their foibles

Jill Eikenberry and John Glover in a scene from "Fern Hill." (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)
Jill Eikenberry and John Glover in a scene from “Fern Hill.” (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

An amazing display of top notch acting by six very talented theater pros is on display in the world premiere of “Fern Hill” at the New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch, N.J., through Sept. 9.

These are the kind of actors we see on TV (“Law and Order,” “Elementary,” “The Sinner,” “Veep”),   in movies (“The Birdcage,” “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Flags of our Fathers”),  perhaps in a featured or recurring role, who take these gigs so they can support their theater habit. 

The two-hour play features Tony Award-winner John Glover (“Love! Valour! Compassion!); three-time Tony nominee for best actress in a musical Dee Hoty (“Footloose,” “The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public,” “The Will Rogers Follies”); Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Feature Actress in a Musical Jill Eikenberry (plus five Emmy Award nominations for “L.A. Law”); Tony nominee Tom McGowan (“La Bête”); David Rasche (seven Broadway shows) and Jodi Long (five Broadway shows). Continue reading Michael Tucker’s comedy ‘Fern Hill’ explores aging friends and their foibles

‘Pamela’s First Musical’ announces cast for its world premiere

Pamela's First Musical logoWe knew the world premiere of “Pamela’s First Musical” would open the 25th anniversary season of the Two River Theater Company in September. Now we know who’s in the cast and the creative team.

They have more than 25 Tony Awards nominations — and seven wins — among them.

Wendy Wasserstein (“The Heidi Chronicles) adapted her 1996 children’s book for the stage with “City of Angels” composer Cy Coleman and lyricist David Zippel —all Tony Award-winners. 

Christopher Durang, another Tony winner for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” also is involved in the project that has been under development by Two River Theater for several years. Continue reading ‘Pamela’s First Musical’ announces cast for its world premiere

Two River Theater expanding its footprint and booking as it turns 25

Mike Birbiglia's one-man show "The New One" is being performed at Two River Theater in Red Bank and the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village this month.
Mike Birbiglia’s one-man show “The New One” is being performed at Two River Theater in Red Bank and the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village this month.

Two River Theater Company, a regional non-profit theater in New Jersey with a national reputation for staging excellent productions, appears to be expanding its offerings with booking a comic and a film festival in the “off-season.”

Mike Birbiglia‘s one-man show “The New One” that begins tonight at the Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank.

Continue reading Two River Theater expanding its footprint and booking as it turns 25

‘Songbird’ soars for fans of boot-stomping, honky-tonk version of ‘Seagull’

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A new honky-tonk musical based on an Anton Chekhov play is stomping the stage at the Two River Theater through July 1. 

Set in a small Nashville bar where whisky is a food group, music on the out-of-tune piano is more rhythm than melody and dead keys a must, plus the ability to dance the two-step is required, 10 real good friends and relatives are trying to sort out their lives — badly.  Continue reading ‘Songbird’ soars for fans of boot-stomping, honky-tonk version of ‘Seagull’

List of winners for the 2018 Tony Awards

Tony Shalhoub as Tewfiq and Katrina Lenk as Dina in "The Band's Visit." (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)
Tony Shalhoub as Tewfiq and Katrina Lenk as Dina in “The Band’s Visit.” (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

The 72nd Annual Tony Awards were held June 10, 2018, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2017–18 season. The ceremony was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and was broadcast live by CBS.

The musical “The Band’s Visit” swept the awards show, with 10 wins, while hot-ticket play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” picked up six awards.

Bruce Springsteen and John Leguizamo each were awarded a special Tony for their solo Broadway shows
Bruce Springsteen and John Leguizamo each were awarded a special Tony for their solo shows.

Bruce Springsteen and John Leguizamo each were awarded a special Tony for their performances on Broadway this season.. Each told a  story about their American experiences growing up

The Grammy-winning rock legend’s sold-out solo show,  “Springsteen on Broadway,” according to New York Times critic Jesse Green, “…  is a painful if thrilling summing-up at (age) 68: a major statement about a life’s work, but also a major revision of it. As music acts go, it thus has more in common with Lena Horne’s revelatory “The Lady and Her Music” from 1981 than with a greatest-hits concert by the likes of Barry Manilow.

Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” marked his sixth solo venture, following his success on Broadway with “Ghetto Klown,” “Sexaholix…A Love Story” and “Freak (he earned Tony nominations for writing and starring in the latter).

Also, Chita Rivera and Andrew Lloyd Webber were awarded special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

The winners are noted in bold face.

Best Musical

The Band’s Visit

Frozen

Mean Girls

Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical

 

A scene from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photograph: Manuel Harlan
A scene from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (Photograph: Manuel Harlan)

Best Play

The Children

Farinelli and the King

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Junk

Latin History for Morons

Best Revival of a Musical

Carousel

My Fair Lady

Once on This Island

 

Best Revival of a Play

Angels in America

The Iceman Cometh

Lobby Hero

Three Tall Women

Travesties Continue reading List of winners for the 2018 Tony Awards

Edna Ferber festival features 5 new one-acts, ‘Selina Peake’ reading

Why have so few people heard of Edna Ferber?

Before Lois Lane was a ground-breaking female reporter at the Daily Planet, Edna Ferber worked at the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal, had published her first novel, and covered both the 1920 Republican and Democratic National Conventions for the United Press Association.
Before ballet choreographer Agnes de Mille created dances that advanced plot and developed character in “Oklahoma!” (1943)

and before Betty Comden, with writing partner Adolph Green, provided lyrics, libretti, and screenplays to some of the most beloved Broadway shows (such as “On the Town, 1944), Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” was made into a ground-breaking Broadway musical  (1926).

It’s recognized as the first “modern” American musical.

Continue reading Edna Ferber festival features 5 new one-acts, ‘Selina Peake’ reading

Comedian Mike Birbiglia books six performances at Two River Theater

Mike Birbiglia is a comedian, actor and filmmaker, who also can be heard on Public Radio's  "This American Life" and "The Moth." He also has  released several comedy albums and television specials. (PHOTO: Courtesy Two River Theater Company)
Mike Birbiglia is a comedian, actor and filmmaker, who also can be heard on Public Radio’s “This American Life” and “The Moth.” (PHOTO: Courtesy Two River Theater Company)

Two River Theater Company has announced a special July event featuring comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia in six performances of “The New One” prior to its New York premiere.

Tickets go on sale beginning 10 a.m. tomorrow (May 16) for Two River subscribers and donors, and to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday (May 18.) Tickets are $35 and available at tworivertheater.org or at 732-345-1400.

Birbiglia  has performed in venues around the world, including  the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Recent shows include, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” and “Thank God for Jokes,” which were filmed for Netflix. Continue reading Comedian Mike Birbiglia books six performances at Two River Theater

Andrew lloyd Webber out, Alice Walker is in for Paper Mill’s season opener

Adrianna Hicks (Celie), N'Jameh Camara (Nettie) and the North American tour cast of "The Color Purple." (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)
Adrianna Hicks (Celie), N’Jameh Camara (Nettie) and the North American tour cast of “The Color Purple.” (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

John Doyle’s production of “The Color Purple” will open the 2018-2019 Paper Mill Playhouse season, replacing Andrew lloyd Webber’s previously announced world premiere “Unmasked.”

“We received news last week from our producing partners in London that due to unforeseen scheduling issues, “Unmasked” can no longer be presented as part of our 2018-2019 Paper Mill Playhouse season,” said Mark S. Hoebee, producing artistic director,  in a prepared statement. “We look forward to presenting it in a future season.”

Scheduled to run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 21, the musical features a Grammy-winning score infused with jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues, . It’s based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-nominated feature film. Casting will be announced at a later date.  Continue reading Andrew lloyd Webber out, Alice Walker is in for Paper Mill’s season opener

Christopher Durang’s newest comedy opens Saturday in Princeton

The Cast: (clockwise from top left) Jenn Harris, Rachel Nicks, Kristine Nielsen, Robert Sella, Nicholas Podany, and John Pankow.
The cast (clockwise from top left) Jenn Harris, Rachel Nicks, Kristine Nielsen, Robert Sella, Nicholas Podany and John Pankow.

Christopher Durang’s newest comedy, “Turning Off the Morning News,” is in preview at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. It’s the playwright’s third play commissioned by McCarter and closes the 2017/18 season. Opening night is May 12.

His last work here, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” moved to Broadway, resulting in his first Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. Really? It took that long?

It was directed by McCarter’s artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann who also helms this play, described as “a decidedly dark and daring comedy taking hilarious aim at today’s absurd and dangerous world.” Continue reading Christopher Durang’s newest comedy opens Saturday in Princeton

2018 Tony Awards nominations revealed this morning

Screen Shot of 2018 Tony nominationsIt pays to be “mean” and “square” on Broadway, according to the 2018 Tony Awards committee, with Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants each with 12 nods, including Best Musical.

Close was The Band’s Visit (with 11 nominations) and trailing behind is Frozen (earning three nods). The list was revealed this morning (May 1).

The 72nd annual Tony Awards ceremony is scheduled forJune 10 at Radio City Music Hall. Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban  co-host. Continue reading 2018 Tony Awards nominations revealed this morning

News and views of New Jersey's regional theaters, and bits about Broadway.

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