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.

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

Andrea McArdle revisits ‘Annie’ as Miss Hannigan

Andrea McArdle as Miss Hannigan in the Axelrod Performing Arts Center prouction of “Annie.” (PHOTO: Rick Kowalski)

Once the “Law and Order” police procedural franchises began filming in New York City nearly three decades ago, so many Broadway actors booked TV guest appearances and listed them in their Playbill biographies that it became a running joke.

Not so for Andrea McArdle.

“I’m the only actor who has never been on “Law and Order” she said. “I was offered roles like the governor’s wife when what I really wanted to play was the heroine addict.” Continue reading Andrea McArdle revisits ‘Annie’ as Miss Hannigan

Broadway comes home (and on electronic devises, of course)

‘Broadway’s Best’ with THIRTEEN’s ‘Great Performances November Fridays

Broadcast premiere/streaming of  “An American in Paris The Musical,” the U.K. live production of “The Sound of Music” and new documentaries about John Leguizamo’s Tony-nominated play “Latin History for Morons” and Broadway icon Harold Prince

 

Returning for a second year, this fall’s lineup includes Broadway’s  “An American in Paris The Musical” and the U.K. live “The Sound of Music,” as well as documentaries about the making of John Leguizamo’s Tony-nominated play “Latin History for Morons” and 21-time Tony-winning director and producer Harold Prince. Continue reading Broadway comes home (and on electronic devises, of course)

Sadly, ‘Theatre Talk’ ends its run this weekend after more than 26 years

This weekend’s encore TV presentation of theater lovers’ Theater Talk  will be its last. At least it’s going out in style with a repeat of featuring “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” creatives director John Tiffany,  movement director Steven Hoggett,  playwright Jack Thorne and author J.K. Rowling discussing the blockbuster show.

Long-time host Susan Haskins-Doloff is joined by co-host Gordon Cox of Variety. the half-hour show  featured actors, playwrights, designers, directors, lyricists, book writers, choreographers and more talking about putting on a show.

It lasted more than 26 years and there is nothing else like it. Quickie interviews on network talk shows don’t come anywhere near the quality of questions, in-depth discussions and often the crazy things we sometimes heard and saw.

Continue reading Sadly, ‘Theatre Talk’ ends its run this weekend after more than 26 years

Paper Mill’s ‘Color Purple’ marks GLAAD SpiritDay

 

Paper Mill Playhouse, recipient of the  Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016, is currently showing The Color Purple, directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle. The Color Purple is a Tony Award-winning revival based upon the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment motion picture with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

Cast members from the 2015 Broadway revival lead the Paper Mill Playhouse company, including Adrianna Hicks (Aladdin, Sister Act – Germany) as Celie, Carla R. Stewart (Ghost – National Tour, Rent – Regional) as Shug Avery and Carrie Compere (Holler If You Hear Me, Shrek the Musical – National Tour) as Sofia. The Color Purple runs through October 21, 2018.

Tickets available at www.PaperMill.org.

 

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