Category Archives: McCarter Theatre

‘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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‘Five Mile Lake’ makes its East Coast debut at McCarter Theater

Nicely acted and beautifully directed “Five Mile Lake,” a contemporary play by Rachel Bonds, is making its East Coast debut at McCarter Theatre in Princeton through May 31.

McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann helms this 90-minute slice-of-life work in which not much happens as 20- and 30-somethings look for meaning in their lives during a 48-hour period in a small town near Scranton,  Pennsylvania on the edge of an unseen lake.

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Ken Ludwig’s hysterical ‘Baskervilles’ is great fun at McCarter Theatre

Lucas Hall as John Watson and Gregory Wooddell as Sherlock Holmes in Ken Ludwig's hysterical version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" at McCarter Theatre in Princeton through March 29. (Photo: Margot Shulman)
Lucas Hall as John Watson (left) and Gregory Wooddell as Sherlock Holmes in Ken Ludwig’s hysterical “Baskervilles” at McCarter Theatre. (Photo: Margot Shulman)

Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Did you enjoy
“The 39 Steps?” Do you like to laugh — a lot — in the theater?

Then you will love Ken Ludwig’s “Baskervilles” now playing at the McCarter Theatre complex in Princeton through March 29. You loved “Moon Over Buffalo” and “Lend Me a Tenor,” right? He wrote those.

And bring the kids. I’ve never seen such a mix of adults and so many young theatergoers — tweens, high schoolers, college students and young adults — as I did last night during the opening at the nearly full 1,100-seat Matthews Theatre space. It’s a co-production with the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, where it was presented earlier this year to raves.

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Ken Ludwig version of Sherlock Holmes at McCarter Theatre

Ken Ludwig's "Baskerville" with, from left, Jane Pfitsch, Gregory Wooddell as Sherlock Holmes and Stanley Bahorek opens at  McCarter Theatre in Princeton (Photo by Margot Schulman.)
Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville” with, from left, Jane Pfitsch, Gregory Wooddell as Sherlock Holmes and Stanley Bahorek, opens March 10  at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. (Photo by Margot Schulman.)

Two regional theaters in New Jersey are opening world premieres in the next couple of weeks. And one thing we know for sure, there definitely is no such thing as too much Sherlock Holmes.

McCarter Theatre in Princeton is hosting the world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s  “Baskerville, A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” his take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskerville.” You can count on lots of laughs from the playwright who also penned “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” Performances March 10-29. Buy tickets here.

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Kathleen Marshall, Emily Mann create cutting-edge theater

Emily Mann writes, directs and runs McCarter Theatre

When McCarter Theatre’s Artistic Director Emily Mann isn’t introducing major new works in Princeton, she’s creating her own. Her new translation, a stage version of Ingmar Bergman’s  six-hour Swedish miniseries “Scenes From a Marriage,” is receiving a very innovative staging at the New York Theater Workshop under the direction of Ivo van Hove.

The theater has essentially been gutted. (Watch video of transformation here.) The proscenium gone. According to an article by Erik Piepenburg in the New York Times, the audience is divided into three groups of about 60 each for three different 30-minute scenes. After an intermission the theater is transformed and the audience sits in the round for the second act.

That sounds so cool and so off-Broadway, where risk is embraced much more so than on Broadway. Click here to read the complete article. Also, Mann directs Rachel Bonds’ new play “Five Mile Lake” at McCarter Theatre from May 1-31. The theater’s website says: …  Bonds paints a moving portrait of a group of young people, yearning to make the right choices—and facing the choices they have already made—as they journey into their thirties in a rapidly transforming world.” Continue reading Kathleen Marshall, Emily Mann create cutting-edge theater