Category Archives: NJ Theater

Last weekend to catch Two River Theater’s ‘Women of Padilla’

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Tony Meneses new play, “The Women of Padilla,” is about eight women who are married to eight brothers who are away fighting an unknown war for an unknown cause that seems never-ending.

The title refers to the family’s last name and seven of the women spend hours together daily talking, eating, arguing, and laughing in a series of short scenes during the 90-minute play featuring an all-Latina cast. Continue reading Last weekend to catch Two River Theater’s ‘Women of Padilla’

‘Multiple Family Dwelling’ play about family secrets

Two couples are deep into the booze following a long afternoon at a birthday party for an 8-year-old girl. The light-hearted conversation, though, begins to veer off course. A slight insult here. A confusing comment there. Innuendo everywhere.

From left, Tia (Dana Brooke) plans to move to move into the second floor apartment in the home of James (Dustin Charles) and Kelly (Maria Couch), with her fiancé.

Then there’s awkwardness as one couple starts making out. That would be Tia (Dana Brooke) and her fiancee Stuart (Jared Michael Delaney) who plan to move into the second floor apartment in the home of Kelly (Maria Couch) and James (Dustin Charles), a married couple who bought the place hoping gentrification gets there soon, real soon. It was their daughter Olivia’s party.

It made me think a little about “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff,” another play with two drunk couples, an unseen child and toxic relationships that thrive on taunting, nefarious games and  emotional abuse.

Continue reading ‘Multiple Family Dwelling’ play about family secrets

‘The Jag’ a sweet ride at NJRep; Estelle Bajou gives incredible performance

Dan Grimaldi is the 70-year-old father Chick and Estelle Bajou is Carla, a genius car mechanic in "The Jag." (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)
Dan Grimaldi is the 70-year-old father Chick and Estelle Bajou is Carla, a genius car mechanic in “The Jag.” (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

“The Jag” is a play about a broken man, his broken son, their broken 1967 Jaguar, and the socially challenged young woman who helps to fix all three.

Written by award-winning playwright Gino DiIorio, the world premiere of this 90-minute drama with lots of laughs continues at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch through Feb. 12. (Other plays of his that premiered here include “Release Point,” “Apostasy,” “Winterizing the Summer House” and “Dead Ringer.”)

Continue reading ‘The Jag’ a sweet ride at NJRep; Estelle Bajou gives incredible performance

‘Bodyguard’ musical looks amazing, sounds great, needs better story

"The Bodyguard" at Paper Mill Playhouse features Judson Mills as Frank Farmer hired to protect Deborah Cox as pop singer Rachel Marron, who is being stalked . (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)
“The Bodyguard” at Paper Mill Playhouse features Judson Mills as Frank Farmer hired to protect Deborah Cox as pop singer Rachel Marron, who is being stalked . (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

“The Bodyguard” begins with a bang — a gun shot, actually — that made every single theatergoer in the 1,200-seat Paper Mill Playhouse jump. It ends with pop music star Rachel Madden, elevated above the audience — alone in the spotlight.

First produced in London in 2012 and recently revived, the American production ends its 5-week U.S. debut this weekend  and continues its national tour Jan. 10-15 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the second site for the 20 American cities tour. More dates are expected to be announced.  Most of the tour consists of 5-day stints, but several cities are booked for two- to three-week sit downs, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Costa Mesa. (Complete schedule below)

It’s the slickest production I’ve ever seen at the Millburn, NJ,   a nonprofit venue that has become a launch pad for  Broadway musicals recently, including “Newsies,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” and earlier this month “A Bronx Tale.” “Bandstand,” which premiered there in 2015 is scheduled to make its Broadway debut April 2017.

Continue reading ‘Bodyguard’ musical looks amazing, sounds great, needs better story

Theater jobs: What is a Director of Production?

Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor's dress from its current production of "The Lion In Winter" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.
Director of Production Lauren Kurinskas with Queen Eleanor’s dress from its current production of “The Lion In Winter” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank.

Wonder what some of those titles in your theater program mean? Meet Lauren Kurinskas, Director of Production at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. No, she doesn’t direct the play, but she tells a lot of people behind the scenes what to do.

She joined the company in April 2012 as an Associate Production Manager and was promoted to her current job in October 2013. She handles all aspects of the shows staged by the professional theater company, which includes helping to create the season schedule and making sure each set is built on time; liaison between artistic and technical staff; oversee a staff of 23, plus find housing for visiting artists and facility rentals; running meetings and participating in long-term planning. Whew! Continue reading Theater jobs: What is a Director of Production?

‘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

Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

Crossing Borders logoThe 2016 Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, launches tomorrow. It’s a 5-day celebration (Aug. 3,-7) of new plays by Latino writers with food and music. And it’s free. What’s not to like?

Two River’s outreach year-round within  its community is exemplary, especially to area Latinos and African-Americans. It’s what all nonprofit theaters should be doing. Continue reading Latino theater festival Crossing Borders opens tomorrow, ends Sunday

Two River Theater’s ‘Pericles’ an epic theatrical event

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OK. Let’s just say it up front. “Pericles” is a play with problems and  almost nobody understands it. It’s one of Shakespeare’s last plays and some scholars believe he had a not-too-talented collaborator for half of it. It’s hardly ever staged because it doesn’t sell well.

But none of that deterred the Two River Theater company in Red Bank, NJ, from putting it on their  adventurous 2015-16 season schedule that includes an all-male “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” and the upcoming all-female “I Remember Mama.”

Continue reading Two River Theater’s ‘Pericles’ an epic theatrical event

2 River Theater reveals 2016-17 season with classics, and new works

Two River Theater tonight announced its 2016-2017 season, which  includes Michael Cumptsy as Henry II in “The Lion in Winter” and Ruben Santiago-Hudson directing August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”  Cumpsty and Santiago-Hudson, comfortable on NYC stages, bring their Broadway level work to regional theaters. Both men are returning to what they consider their second home which 2River fans are happy about.

Continue reading 2 River Theater reveals 2016-17 season with classics, and new works

‘For Worse’ at NJ Rep focuses on wife who won’t leave husband

Ed Kershen and Kristin Griffith. Three decades of marriage and three daughters later Peter has an epiphany and informs his wife that he is in love with another woman whom he has been having an affair with for the past three years. He assumes his wife will leave, but she doesn't, and to make matters worse his girlfriend gives him an ultimatum. Peter’s choices in life are put to the test as he questions the meaning of love, friendship and betrayal. The cast includes Ed Kershen, Kristin Griffith, Daniela Mastropietro and Angie Tennant and is directed by Evan Bergman.
Ed Kershen and Kristin Griffith play a couple crisis in “For Worse” at NJRep in Long Branch, NJ. (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

Deborah Rennard, the writer of “For Worse,” running through April 10 at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, has seen her share of troubled marriages. She was, after all, the actress who played JR’s secretary on TV’s hit show “Dallas” from 1978-1991.

(If you don’t know “Dallas,” ask your mom or click here)

Her four-character, two-hour world premiere has a twist she might not have seen on that TV set: a man who confesses to his wife of nearly 30 years (and three daughters) that he has been having a four-year affair with a much younger woman and plans to leave.

Continue reading ‘For Worse’ at NJ Rep focuses on wife who won’t leave husband