All posts by Gretchen Van Benthuysen

London’s first black Othello in ‘Red Velvet’ at NJ Shakespeare Theatre

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey 2016. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte. Pictured left to right: Lindsay Smiling and Victoria Mack. In background: Shannon Harris and John Little. Photo credit: Jerry Dalia.
Pictured left to right: Lindsay Smiling and Victoria Mack. In background: Shannon Harris and John Little. (Photo credit: Jerry Dalia)

New Jersey Repertory’s new play “Iago,” about a post-World War II love affair amongst three needy London stage actors and their love triangle, tonight is joined by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s NJ premiere of “Red Velvet,” set in the mid-1800s about the true-life story of Ira Aldridge, the first  black actor to appear as Othello on the London stage.

This is so cool. When you’ve seen the entire Shakespeare canon multiple times, getting a new look at one of the world’s favorite playwright always is interesting . Continue reading London’s first black Othello in ‘Red Velvet’ at NJ Shakespeare Theatre

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New Jersey Rep’s ‘Iago’ continues to Sept. 25

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As if there weren’t already enough intrigue, backstabbing and  romance going on in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” a new play called “Iago” puts a modern twist on the tale with its New Jersey premiere at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.

A four-character drama loosely based on the grand love affair between Lawrence Oliver and Vivien Leigh, it’s set mostly in England from 1947 to 1957, taking us behind the scenes when the play was the thing that mattered the most. Continue reading New Jersey Rep’s ‘Iago’ continues to Sept. 25

George Street Playhouse ticket discount sale; save $20 today only

George Street Playhouse one-day deal for discounted tickets.

I like to think of George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick as the state’s equivalent of a cool off-Broadway theater where  interesting, fun, thoughtful shows are staged and the unexpected happens.

If that entices you, take  advantage of the today-only $20 ticket discount in honor of artistic director David Saint’s 20th anniversary with the professional regional theater.  Under his guidance GSP has become a theater that takes chances, mounts new work and sends shows into NYC.

Continue reading George Street Playhouse ticket discount sale; save $20 today only

‘Potter’ refuses resold tickets; Schumer wants law against U.S. scalpers

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is running at the palace Theatre.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is running at the Palace Theatre in London.

Is the secondary ticket market finally under siege on both sides of the Atlantic? Yes! And it’s about time.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is proposing stiff fines for reselling Broadway tkts and in London “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is refusing to honor tkts not sold by legit vendors. In some cases — like for “Hamilton” — we’re talking hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Ouch!

“Hamilton” star and creator Linn-Manuel Miranda and Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin are supporting Schumer‘s sponsorship of legislation that would impose a $16,000 fine on those who use automated ticket purchasing software to purchase tickets online.What’s not clear to me, at this point, is that per transaction? If not, paying the fine could be cheaper — much cheaper — than scalping tkts, as it used to be known. The story  on Playbill.com doesn’t say.

Continue reading ‘Potter’ refuses resold tickets; Schumer wants law against U.S. scalpers

Shakespeare Theatre/NJ offers superb, absurd ‘Exit the King’ in August

If you want real-life Theater of the Absurd this summer season, keep following the American Presidential race. If you want to experience  some on a  smaller stage, a play penned by one of the masters of the art of zany, delusional characters in hopeless situations they refuse to accept, check out “Exit the King” by Eugene Ionesco at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey through August 28.

Continue reading Shakespeare Theatre/NJ offers superb, absurd ‘Exit the King’ in August

What’s closing on Broadway as of Aug. 12

Although "Something Rotten"had 10 Tony Award nominations, the only one it took home was for Christian Borle for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)
Although “Something Rotten” had 10 Tony Award nominations, the only one it took home was for Christian Borle for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)

When all is said and done, Shakespeare outlasts us all. With summer fading, four Broadway shows will close within a month plus three more by the end of the year leaving “Something Rotten” the only  show still running among the 39 that opened in one of modern Broadway’s busiest and most diverse season, Playbill.com points out.

Continue reading What’s closing on Broadway as of Aug. 12

Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

Crossing Borders logoThe 2016 Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, launches tomorrow. It’s a 5-day celebration (Aug. 3,-7) of new plays by Latino writers with food and music. And it’s free. What’s not to like?

Two River’s outreach year-round within  its community is exemplary, especially to area Latinos and African-Americans. It’s what all nonprofit theaters should be doing. Continue reading Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

Embarrassment of riches as NJ theaters open world premieres, revivals

A scene from Ken Ludwig's "A Comedy of Tenors" directed by Stephen Wadsworth PHOTOS: Roger Mastroianni
A scene from Ken Ludwig’s “A Comedy of Tenors” directed by Stephen Wadsworth and currently on stage at McCarterTheatre. PHOTOS: Roger Mastroianni

It’s been a busy few weeks for New Jersey theatergoers, and critics, as the 2015-2016 season gets underway with several world premieres.

Openings last week included “Murder for Two” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, the world-premiere of “A Comedy of Tenors” at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, a revival of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, and the world premiere of “Bandstand,” a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.

Continue reading Embarrassment of riches as NJ theaters open world premieres, revivals

In time for Halloween, Shakespeare Theatre offers 1-of-a-kind items

This popular annual sale features one-of-a-kind items from the theater's prop, costume, and scenery stock. From masks to furniture, from seat pieces to fabric remnants.
This popular annual sale features one-of-a-kind items from the theater’s prop, costume, and scenery stock, including masks, costumes and  fabric remnants. 

Looking for a costume no one else will have? How about some knee-high cavalier boots? Have no fear, the Bard is here. Rather the stuff the creative people who mount the plays (written 500 years ago through today) made for the stage will be making many of those items available to us. All items are priced to sell.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will hold its Costume, Prop, and Scenery Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 at the theater’s production facility at 3 Vreeland Road in Florham Park.  Admission and parking are free.

For more information, call 973-408-5600. The sale will be held at the Theatre’s administration/production facility, 3 Vreeland Road, Florham Park.

All proceeds benefit The Shakespeare Theatre’s artistic and educational programs.  Only 58 percent of the not-for-profit regional theater’s budget (productions and educational programs) comes from the box office.

NOTE: The sale originally was to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m but has been pushed back to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contributions from corporate, foundation, and government sources and individuals donations also help support its Main Stage, Outdoor Stage and educational programming including  Shakespeare LIVE! which brings Shakespeare and other classic works to schools throughout the mid-Atlantic region; the Student Matinee Series, which enables middle- and high-school students and teachers to attend school-time performances of Main Stage productions; and the Summer Professional Training Program, which offers young actors, designers, technicians, and administrators hands-on professional training.

George Takei invites ‘Star Trek’ fans to spend Halloween on Broadway

Actors George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung acknowledge the audience's cheers at the end of the final performance of "Allegiance, a New American Musical" at the Old Globe Theatre, the theater's most successful production. PHOTO: Charlie Neuman / UT San Diego
George Takei, Lea Salonga, and Telly Leung during the curtain call at the final performance of “Allegiance, a New American Musical” at the Old Globe Theatre, the San Diego theater’s most successful production, before it moves to Broadway. PHOTO: Charlie Neuman / UT San Diego

George Takei, 78, who will be making his Broadway debut in “Allegiance,”  a new musical inspired by his life story,  announced on NBC’s” Today Show” that Oct. 31 will be “Star Trek” night and everyone should come in costume.

So this mean Romulans,  Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons and humans could all be sitting together? Hmmm. Better book extra security.

Continue reading George Takei invites ‘Star Trek’ fans to spend Halloween on Broadway