All posts by Gretchen Van Benthuysen

When I was 11, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and I grew up to become the Entertainment Editor of the Asbury Park Press when I was 25. Fifteen years later I finally was able to write about theater in NJ and in NYC full-time for another 10 years, plus contribute articles and reviews to Variety, Back Stage and The Drama League. Now I run this website TheaterCues.com for fun. Before I left The Press I was the Web Producer for the Friday and Sunday Entertainment sections of The Press, Home News Tribune, Daily Record and Courier News. I learned a lot about Search Engine Optimization, key words and phrases and other ways to attract Google’s attention. If you have a business — or show business — these days you need a website that shows up on the first page of Google that your customers — or audience — check often to see what’s new on your blog, in your photo galleries, on your video accounts, etc. You want them to be a part of your community, your family, so when it’s time for your service — or opening night — they are there to support you.

‘Be More Chill’ has a sister in Joe Iconis’ new musical ‘Love In Hate Nation’

Two River Theater Company announced its 2019-2020 season, which includes a world premiere musical from Joe Iconis. (PHOTO: Gretchen Van Benthuysen)

”Be More Chill” fans rejoice!! Joe Iconis has a new show. It’s about teenagers. Bad girls, really bad girls, in fact, it takes place in a juvie hall in the 1960s. It’s called “Love In  Hate Nation.” Continue reading ‘Be More Chill’ has a sister in Joe Iconis’ new musical ‘Love In Hate Nation’

Classic ‘Belle of Amherst’ at Two River Theater opens tonite, closes May 5

Two River Theater tonight opens the  classic one-woman play “The Belle of Amherst, “a biographical drama (with plenty of laughs) starring Maureen Silliman as poet Emily Dickinson.

It’s directed by the theater’s founder and Executive Producer Robert Rechnitz, a former Professor of American Literature at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. Continue reading Classic ‘Belle of Amherst’ at Two River Theater opens tonite, closes May 5

It’s ‘Game of Thrones’ vs. ‘Les Misérables’ starts tonite, lasts 6 weeks

It seems fitting that “Game of Thrones” which many people believe to be the best TV series ever and “Les Misérables,” considered to be the greatest novel of the 19th century, both are airing — or should I say fighting and scheming at 9 tonight and for the next five Sundays.

Who will win the time slot? Continue reading It’s ‘Game of Thrones’ vs. ‘Les Misérables’ starts tonite, lasts 6 weeks

‘Fosse/Verdon’ debuts tonite on FX TV with Rockwell/ Williams

If you love musical theater, the man who reinvented  the Broadway musical and his muse, star in the new limited series  “Fosse/Verdon starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams beginning tonight at 10 p.m. on FX TV.

Developed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and his “Hamilton ” collaborators, plus a bunch of theater favorites and  Broadway stars. Continue reading ‘Fosse/Verdon’ debuts tonite on FX TV with Rockwell/ Williams

Bette Midler hosts PBS tribute to Hal David

Image of Hal David. (PBS)“Alfie”, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “This Guy’s in Love with You”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Sound familiar?

“Do You Know the Way to San Jose”, “Walk On By”, “What the World Needs Now Is Love”, “I Say a Little Prayer.”

Your brain now is accessing memory files from the ’60s and ’70s.

“(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”, “One Less Bell to Answer” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart”

Admit it. You’re singing to yourself now wondering why they don’t write songs like that anymore. If you remember the lyrics from these major American hits, tune in tonight to “If What The World Needs Now: Words by Hal David” airing on Channel 13 in the NYC metropolitan area (Saturday, April 6 at 10 p.m.)

Continue reading Bette Midler hosts PBS tribute to Hal David

Twists, turns, betrayal help make ‘The Source’ a must-see theater event

From left, Conan McCarty, Eleanor Handley and Andrew Rein in a scene from the world premiere of Jack Canfora's "The Source." (PHOTO: SuzAnne
From left, Conan McCarty, Eleanor Handley and Andrew Rein in a scene from the world premiere of Jack Canfora’s “The Source.”
(PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

In the New Jersey Repertory Company’s excellent, nicely staged, absorbing world premiere “The Source,” a newspaper mogul calls a late-night meeting with two of his top executives to plan a strategy to deal with a serious and potentially illegal issue.

Allegations soon will be leveled that his company hacked into the cell phone of a murdered 14-year-old girl to obtain her voice mail messages. 

Illegal or not says Roland (Conan McCarty), the mogul, the company is  not going to look good to the public whose sympathies will be with the dead girl’s family.

 And that’s not all. Continue reading Twists, turns, betrayal help make ‘The Source’ a must-see theater event

Dear world, ‘Be More Chill’ was launched at Two River Theater Co.

Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, N.J.
Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, N.J.

The “Be More Chill” segment that closed today’s NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt is great publicity for a  musical whose original cast album had 250,000,000 million downloads on social media. Only “Hamilton” had more. 

But couldn’t the reporter have thrown a bone to the non-profit Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ, where the show first was produced and created the album. Instead of naming it she said: “When ‘Be More Chill’ closed its first run at a small New Jersey theater, it seemed like that would be it for the musical.”

Ok.Ok. It only has 349 seats. But the Lyceum Theatre is one of the smaller Broadway theatres in terms of capacity, seating only 922. So there.

Watch the NBC video

It is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in New York City, and the first Broadway theatre ever to be granted landmark status (1974)
It is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in New York City, and the first Broadway theatre ever to be granted landmark status (1974)

Wilson’s ‘King Hedley II’ very much in yo’ face at Two River Theater

With Two River Theater’s current staging of August Wilson’s “King Hedley II,” the Red Bank company has reached the halfway mark in  producing the 10-plays that comprise the playwright’s American Century Cycle.

Actor Brandon J. Dirden, whose career includes TV, Broadway and five plays here (two by Wilson), has done an outstanding job once again with a superb cast of six very accomplished actors and a skilled technical team.

Dirden also chose to stage the play in the 110-seat Marion Huber Theater. The actors are in your face and their thoughts, feelings and desperation are visceral. It’s down-and-dirty theater that, at times, takes your breath away. Continue reading Wilson’s ‘King Hedley II’ very much in yo’ face at Two River Theater

Brandon J. Dirden balances acting with directing, for now

Brandon J. Dirden as Martin Luther King, Jr. in “All The Way.” (PHOTO: Evgenia Eliseeva)

For now, Brandon J. Dirden is an actor who also directs plays. But maybe not for long. He might be transitioning into a director who also acts.

Dirden, 39, is the son of actor Willie Dirden, older brother to actor Jason Dirden, is married to actress Crystal Dickinson and they have a 4-year-old son he calls a “theater rat” because he spends so much time in them.

Dirden made his Broadway debut in “Prelude to a Kiss” (2007) and portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranston in his Broadway debut as Lyndon B. Johnson in “All the Way” (2014). Continue reading Brandon J. Dirden balances acting with directing, for now

‘Be More Chill’ reveals Cyber Monday ticket deal for move to Broadway

Will Connolly (center) stars as Jeremy Heere in the world premiere of "Be More Chill" at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. The company includes, from left: Paul Whitty, Gerard Canonico, Lauren Marcus, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Hsu, Jake Boyd and Katlyn Carlson. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson Photography)
Will Connolly (center)  as Jeremy Heere in the world premiere of “Be More Chill” at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. From left: Paul Whitty, Gerard Canonico, Lauren Marcus, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Hsu, Jake Boyd and Katlyn Carlson. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson Photography)

Now that “Be More Chill” is Broadway bound,  the musical about teen angst today revealed new art, released new video and — for three days only —- is selling tickets at off-Broadway prices. Continue reading ‘Be More Chill’ reveals Cyber Monday ticket deal for move to Broadway