Category Archives: McCarter Theatre

McCarter Theatre announces an exciting 2017-2018 season

McCarter Theatre just revealed a 2017-2018 season that includes the world premiere of Tony Award-winner Christopher Durang’s  “Turning Off the Morning News”; a revival of Regina Taylor’s gospel musical “Crowns” that had its world premiere here 15 years ago; a rare staging of Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” in collaboration with Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre,  a recipient of this year’s MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions; Marie Jones’ Irish comedy “Stones in His Pocket” with two actors playing 15 plus characters. The musical biography “A Night With Janis Joplin,” written and directed by Randy Johnson, fills out the schedule.

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World premiere ‘Orient Express’ to make next stop at Hartford Stage

The world premiere stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” closes Sunday at  McCarter Theatre in Princeton but its next stop will be at the Hartford Stage, Conn., as part to its 2018 Spring s

McCarter Theatre Center couldn’t be more excited to have ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ at Hartford Stage as the play’s next step in its journey,” said McCarter Theatre Center Managing Director Timothy J. Shields. “Hartford Stage is an ideal partner to continue the process of bringing the enduring legacy of Agatha Christie’s fabulous characters to life for today’s audiences.”

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Hercule Poirot makes stage debut in McCarter’s ‘Orient Express’ premiere

Agatha Christie's "Murder On The Orient" was adapted by Ken Ludwig for a world premiere starting tonight at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Directed by Emily Mann, it's the first stage appearance of Hercule Poirot. (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson)
Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient” was adapted by Ken Ludwig for a world premiere starting tonight at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. Directed by Emily Mann, it’s the first stage appearance of Hercule Poirot. Is it Broadway bound? (PHOTO: T Charles Erickson)

Agatha Christie + Hercule Poirot + Ken Ludwig. That’s a theater trifecta. And that’s also before you know who makes up the creative dream team for the world premiere of the stage version of “Murder on the Orient Express,”  beginning  three weeks of performances tonight at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. (Two more performances already have been added.)

Emily Mann, McCarter’s artistic director, is at the helm. Her team includes Tony Award-winning designers: sets by Beowulf Boritt (Act OneOn the Town); costumes by William Ivey Long (15 Tony noms.; 6 wins); lighting by Ken Billington (Chicago), and sound by Darron L. West (Peter and the Starcatcher).

This is headed to Broadway, right?

Continue reading Hercule Poirot makes stage debut in McCarter’s ‘Orient Express’ premiere

Bedlam at McCarter: ‘Hamlet’ and ‘St. Joan’ take over Berlind stage

Eric Tucker (left) and Edmund Lewis in a scene from Bedlam's "St. Joan,' by George Bernard Shaw. (PHOTO: A.R. Sinclair)
Eric Tucker (left) and Edmund Lewis in a scene from Bedlam’s “St. Joan,’ by George Bernard Shaw. (PHOTO: A.R. Sinclair)

I’ve seen “Hamlet” at least two dozen times. A benefit of being a critic. So I’m eager to see Bedlam’s “Hamlet” — 4 actors playing over 25 roles —  at McCarter because I crave new ways to look at old shows, even if it was conceived this way due to a shoestring budget.

Throughout 47 years of theatergoing (before you do the math, I started young … real young), some of my best experiences were at low-budget, off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway theaters that didn’t recognize a fourth wall, depended on brains, creativity, hard work, devotion to craft, enthusiasm, family, friends, donors and thrill-seeking audiences willing to take risks — just like the actors.

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‘Bathing in Moonlight’ needs a new argument about married priests

McCarter Theatre’s artistic director Emily Mann and playwright Nilo Cruz have been reunited for the first time since the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Anna in the Tropics” that opened the Berlind Theater in 2003. Unfortunately, their collaboration on “Bathing in Moonlight” isn’t as successful.

Continue reading ‘Bathing in Moonlight’ needs a new argument about married priests

McCarter Theatre reveals 2016-17 season, premieres by Ken Ludwig, Nilo Cruz

Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre’s 2016-17 season features the world premiere of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient
Express” adapted for the stage by Ken Ludwig; a world premiere from Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz; works by fellow Pulitzer-winners Ayad Akhtar and Lynn Nottage, and Bedlam Theatre Company’s “Hamlet” and “St. Joan” in repertory.

Woo, hoo!! I. Am. Psyched. This is why, I tell my husband, I won’t consider moving to Washington state so he can live near his sisters. I just can’t leave McCarter Theatre behind. Or other NJ theaters such as Two River Theater,  George Street Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Paper Mill Playhouse, and more.

Continue reading McCarter Theatre reveals 2016-17 season, premieres by Ken Ludwig, Nilo Cruz

McCarter Theatre snags its audience with Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’


Usually when discussing a murder mystery you want to make sure you don’t give away the whodunnit’s ending. In McCarter Theatre’s superb production of “The Mousetrap,” it’s also the beginning I can’t talk about too much as it’s a stunner and I don’t want to ruin it Continue reading McCarter Theatre snags its audience with Agatha Christie’s ‘Mousetrap’

2 decades later scholars to assess August Wilson’s shocking ‘race’ speech

Twenty years after August Wilson delivered a keynote speech some thought attacked the white theater community, McCarter Theatre and Princeton University will hold a symposium in the place where it all happened. (PHOTO: Courtesy of PBS)
Twenty years after August Wilson delivered a keynote speech some thought attacked the white theater community, McCarter Theatre and Princeton University will hold a symposium in the place where it all happened. (PHOTO: Courtesy of PBS)

Twenty years ago, at the 1996 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) annual conference at McCarter Theatre Center, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright August Wilson delivered the event’s keynote address and blew the lid off the place.

I was there covering the three-day event for the Asbury Park Press as it’s Theater Writer.

“The Ground on Which I Stand” was simultaneously cheered and booed.  I couldn’t believe the gamut of emotions from outrage to shouts of encouragement, people walking out and others nodding heads in agreement and applauding. The reactions to the speech which addressed  questions of race, diversity, and cultural identity in the American Theater broke down along racial lines.

To honor the 20th anniversary of this watershed moment, McCarter Theatre Center and Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts will host a free symposium  Monday, April 18 from 1-5 p.m. at McCarter Theatre Center.

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‘Piano Lesson’ at McCarter hits all the right notes


Written in 1990 but set in 1936, “The Piano Lesson” is the fourth in August Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle and his most musical.

Although a fight over a hand-carved upright wooden heirloom  piano is at the center of the play’s conflict, it’s the dialogue that creates most of the music, plus an extended a capella rendition of the prison work song “Berta Berta.” It was a magical stage moment.

Director Jade King Carroll certainly knows her Wilson oeuvre, having served as dramaturg for the recording of the August Wilson Twentieth Century Cycle for WNYC, and offers us a fine, intimate production at the 373-seat Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, though Feb. 7.

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New Tennessee Williams’ ‘Baby Doll’ opens season at McCarter Theatre

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When “Baby Doll” hit local movie theaters in 1956 the Roman Catholic National Legion of Decency tried to have it banned and Cardinal Francis J. Spellman forbade Catholics to see the film written by Tennessee Williams, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Karl Malden, Eli Wallach and Diane Baker.

Williams’ screenplay was based on his one-act plays “27 Wagons Full of Cotton” and “The Long Stay Cut Short, or The Unsatisfactory Supper.”

A few years ago the screenplay was adapted for the French stage by Pierre Laville. He has collaborated with McCarter Theatre artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann for the current Mann directed staging of “Baby Doll.” It runs through Oct. 11 at the complex’s intimate Berlin Theatre space.

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