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.

‘Side Show’ forced to close early due to Jujamcyn clause

“Side Show” posted a Jan. 4 closing — against it’s will — because the  Jujamcyn Theaters, the show’s landlord,   is exercising a contract  clause that allows it to close slow-selling shows that don’t gross $550,000 two weeks in a row.

According to a New York Times article (Dec. 13, 2014) by theater writer Patrick Healy “the fastest flop of the fall Broadway season” was doomed by poor ticket sales and the fact that another musical wanted the St James Theatre, a primo Broadway location at 46 West 44th St. between Broadway and 8th Avenue.

Continue reading ‘Side Show’ forced to close early due to Jujamcyn clause

Broadway agent Rick Miramontez blacklists critic Joanne Kaufman

Screen grab of The beginning of the online version of Joanne Kaufman's article about regularly leaving Broadway shows at intermission.
The beginning of the online version of Joanne Kaufman’s article about regularly leaving Broadway shows at intermission.

 

Theatrical press agent Rick Miramontez no longer will give comp tickets to Wall Street Journal  critic and culture writer Joanne Kaufman after she admitted in her Dec. 1 article “Confessions of a Broadway Bolter” that she often leaves shows at intermission and still writes reviews.

That is just appalling. And can’t you just hear the moaning of theater lovers everywhere who would love to have the primo seats she apparently disdains and  cost hundreds for dollars that most people have to save up for a one or two time per year Broadway visit.

Or maybe it’s just the shows she dislikes and left early, which include  “The Last Ship,” “The Country House,” “It’s Only a Play,” “Matilda,” “Kinky Boots,” “Pippin,” “Boeing-Boeing” and “Billy Elliott.”

Continue reading Broadway agent Rick Miramontez blacklists critic Joanne Kaufman

TDF, Paper Mill Playhouse create autism-friendly theater performances

Here are some of the tweets about the Theater Development Fund's first autism-friendly version of a Broadway play.
Here are some of the tweets about the Theater Development Fund’s first autism-friendly version of a Broadway play.

Today’s Broadway matinee of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” was re-created for people with autism and was a hit. Let’s hope more Broadway shows do the same. Paper Mill Playhouse in NJ is offering its second autism-friendly performance  on Dec. 23 for its holiday production of “Elf.”

If interested in taking someone with a disability to “Elf,” here are more details that also include sign-interpreted, open-captioned and audio-described performances, according to a recent Paper Mill press release.

Continue reading TDF, Paper Mill Playhouse create autism-friendly theater performances

Michael Coale Grey lands dream job at Paper Mill

Image of Santa (Paul C. Vogt) and Buddy (James Moye) in a scene from the Paper Mill Playhouse production of "Elf." Michael Coale Grey is the elf far left in red.
Santa (Paul C. Vogt) and Buddy (James Moye) in a scene from the Paper Mill Playhouse production of “Elf.” Michael Coale Grey is the elf far left in red./Photo by Matthew Murphy.


For some lucky few, it’s who you know that gets you your dream job.

But not Michael Coale Grey. It’s what he knows and how well he can deliver it that got him the job as a member of the ensemble in “Elf,” this season’s holiday offering at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ.

Grey, 22, spent nine years as a member of Paper Mill’s Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory — “I grew up there!” — getting to know members of the artistic staff and his way around a theater.

But for the Union, NJ, resident, it was his fourth audition for a show at the “Broadway in your backyard” theater that earned him a coveted spot in the “Elf” cast. (His previous PM auditions included “Newsies,” “High School Musical” and “Grease.”)

Continue reading Michael Coale Grey lands dream job at Paper Mill

Stars of ‘Jersey Boys’ featured in NJTV’s live ‘Midtown Men’ concert

"Midtown Men" debuts  at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 on NJTV, followed by its  sister stations THIRTEEN (8:30 p.m. Nov. 29) and WLIW (7 p.m. Nov. 30) in the New York metro area, beginning followed by a national rollout beginning in March 2015.
“Midtown Men” debuts at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 on NJTV, followed by its sister stations THIRTEEN (8:30 p.m. Nov. 29) and WLIW (7 p.m. Nov. 30) in the New York metro area,  followed by a national rollout beginning in March 2015. They are, from left, Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer and Daniel Reichard. 

If you loved “Jersey Boys” you’re gonna love “The Midtown Men Live in Concert!” premiering tomorrow (Nov. 29) on NJTV. The special not only features  four members from the original cast of the hit Broadway musical–still packing houses–it will be the New Jersey station’s first nationally-distributed show.

And, according to NJTV General Manager John Servidio, “The Midtown Men” is the first of what he hopes will be many more live events  for local or national broadcast staged at New Jersey performing arts venues.

Continue reading Stars of ‘Jersey Boys’ featured in NJTV’s live ‘Midtown Men’ concert

Sting joins cast of ‘The Last Ship,’ his struggling Broadway musical

Sting says, “It’s not like I’ve flown in from Planet Rock Star to save the day,” about joining the cast of his Broadway musical “The Last Ship” from Dec. 9 through Jan. 10. But, he really, kinda, has.

According to the NYTimes (11/2414), the $15 million musical has been losing $75,000 a week since performances began Sept. 29 at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd Street, . That’s not a good business model. Continue reading Sting joins cast of ‘The Last Ship,’ his struggling Broadway musical

David (‘Cheers’) Lee directs slimmed-down ‘Camelot’ at Two River Theater

The Company performing “The Jousts” in "Camelot" at Two River Theater Company.
The company performing “The Jousts” in “Camelot” at Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ, through Dec. 14.

Two River Theater Company opens Lerner and Loewe’s musical “Camelot” tonight, but it’s not going to be what you expect. Instead of a large cast in sumptuous costumes with a pit orchestra, you’ll get 8 musicians and 8 actors in Arthurian street clothes. Oh, and some nudity.

Continue reading David (‘Cheers’) Lee directs slimmed-down ‘Camelot’ at Two River Theater

‘Duck Dynasty’ sets sights on Broadway

Image of New York Times Theater Reporter Patrick Healy (from left), Cindi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein at  TimesTalks Presents "Kinky Boot."'
New York Times Theater Reporter Patrick Healy (left), Cindi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein at TimesTalks Presents “Kinky Boot.”‘

NYTimes reporter Patrick Healy is my new favorite theater writer. It’s not just because of his A1 story today on “Duck Dynasty” planning to mount a Broadway musical, or the insightful Hugh Jackman profile Sunday or yesterday’s fascinating business story about “It’s Only a Play” offering producers of “The Audience” $400,000 not to evict them.

Continue reading ‘Duck Dynasty’ sets sights on Broadway

Christopher Walken is Capt. Hook on NBC

NBC has finally announced the rest of the leading players for its Dec. 4 live airing of “Peter Pan.” The producers apparently chose to cast Capt. Hook and Mr. Darling with Christopher Walken and Christian Borle, respectively, instead of the same actor playing both parts.

I think the musical  is much more effective with the dad and the pirate played by the same actor, at least from a Freudian point of view. And isn’t that the point? Mr. Darling loves his children, but is a strict disciplinarian whose limited time with his two sons is not pleasant. Capt. Hook, as we well know, hates the Lost Boys, Peter Pan in particular, and in this dream-like play symbolizes the Darling boys’  fear of their unapproachable dad.

Allison Williams, daughter of NBC news anchor Brian Williams, plays the title role Dec. 4 on the live broadcast of the musical on NBC.
Allison Williams, daughter of NBC news anchor Brian Williams, plays the title role Dec. 4 on the live broadcast of the musical “Peter Pan” on NBC.

But  Walken is a definite “get” and we know he trained as a dancer in music theater at the Washington Dance Studio, before moving on to dramatic roles in theater and then film.   Besides Mr. Darling, Borle plays   Smee, Kelli O’Hara is Mrs. Darling and the previously announced Allison Williams is Peter Pan.  Here’s the NBC announcement.

 

‘Birdman’ film about mounting a Broadway show

‘Birdman’ film about mounting a Broadway show

Michael Keaton (right),   Zach Galifianakis and  Edward Norton star in "Birdman," a comedy scheduled for release Oct. 17.
Michael Keaton (right), Zach Galifianakis and Edward Norton star in “Birdman,” a comedy scheduled for release Oct. 17.

Now this looks like a really cool idea. And it brings Michael Keaton back to the big screen. Instead of a Broadway play going to Hollywood, “A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

The “Birdman” trailer is interesting, until the last 15 seconds or so. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

IMDB says scheduled for release in the fall.