Category Archives: NJ Theater

Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s new play about race now at Two River Theater

 

Looking forward to seeing Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s “Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine,” a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race this weekend at Two River Theater. It couldn’t be more timely with an upcoming presidential election and news cycles that often include stories of black men being killed by white cops.

Running through May 3 at the regional theater in Red Bank, NJ, the world-premiere wants audiences to stay for post-play discussions following every performance. That’s certainly one way to get people of various races together to talk.

Written and directed by Tony Award-winner Santiago-Hudson, the 90-minute play centers on an  Upper West Side dinner party invitation that brings an unlikely group together. Two River’s website says it “… brings humor and poignancy to one of the most potent conversations in American life. In our shared history, we all sing the blues. But are your blues sweet like mine?”

Continue reading Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s new play about race now at Two River Theater

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.

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

Dan Lauria’s mob play latest NJ show to transfer to NYC

Wanna be a Broadway producer? How about off-Broadway? Maybe you should launch a show at one of NJ’s regional theaters, which have transferred several shows to NYC, most recently Dan Lauria’s mob drama “Dinner With the Boys.”

"Dinner With The Boys" stars Dan Lauria alongside Ray Abruzzo (who played Little Carmine Lupertazzi on "The Sopranos") and Richard Zavaglia (a veteran of stage and screen who has appeared in such films as "Donnie Brasco" with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.)
“Dinner With The Boys” stars Dan Lauria (right)  alongside Ray Abruzzo (center, who played Little Carmine Lupertazzi on “The Sopranos”) and Richard Zavaglia (rear, a veteran of stage and screen who has appeared in such films as “Donnie Brasco” with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.)

According to today’s New York Times the show, which made its world debut last year at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, was so popular patrons paid $10 to watch it in the lobby from a TV feed. The troupe’s main stage seats less than 50.

The play concerns two old-school Mafia guys hiding out after  botching an assignment. They cook and swap stories as they await their fate. “It’s really about all the violence we consume,” Lauria told the Times.

The show stars Lauria, best known as the dad in TV’s “The Wonder Years,” Ray Abruzzo, who played Little Carmine on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” and Richard Zavaglia, who was in “Donnie Brasco.” Frank Megna will direct. To read the whole story, click here.

Beginning Broadway previews Tuesday (March 17) is “It Shoulda Been You,” one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. Directed by the super multi-talented David Hyde Pierce, it had its world premiere at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. Starring Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris, the show has more crazy characters than one show should be legally allowed to possess, even if it is a comedy about a wedding day run amok between Christians and Jews.

For more info on the show, click here.

Meanwhile, Paper Mill Playhouse’s “Honeymoon in Vegas” currently is running on Broadway and its very successful production of “Newsies” recently closed. On Sunday, the 77-year-old theater in Millburn opens a new production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which could be ripe for a Broadway picking. And there is talk that a revamped version of Cole Porter’s “Can-Can,” which opened Paper Mill’s current season last fall, may make a Broadway transfer.

Next season, the 1,500-seat space offers two world premiere musicals: “Bandstand,” a story of a mismatched band of WWII veterans, and “A Bronx Tale,” set against a backdrop or organized crime and racial strife in the 1960s. The latter is directed by Robert DeNiro. Yeah, the two-time Oscar winner. Jerry Zaks, the four-time Tony Award winner, co-directs. For the complete season, click here.

McCarter Theatre in Princeton, which tonight opens Ken Ludwig’s new take on Sherlock Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” sent Christopher Durang’s  2013 Tony Award-winning comedy “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” to Broadway. David Leveaux’s production of “Electra” featuring Zoë Wanamaker moved to Broadway in 1998. And that’s just the latest in a long line for the venerable playhouse that itself is the recipient of the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional 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 tonight at McCarter Theatre in Princeton (Photo by Margot Schulman.)

Two River Theater offers laughs, tears in premiere of tender ‘Guadalupe’


“Guadalupe in the Guest Room” is a lovely slice-of-life play about love  and death and the power of the Spanish telenovela.

Written by Tony Meneses and directed by Daniella Topol, the 90-minute play is receiving its world premiere at the Two River Theater  in Red Bank, NJ, through March 15.

Charles Socarides plays Steve, whose young wife of two years, Claudia, died one month ago. Socorro Santiago plays his mother-in-law Guadalupe, who has come from Mexico for the funeral and is still in the guest room.

Continue reading Two River Theater offers laughs, tears in premiere of tender ‘Guadalupe’

Paper Mill Playhouse among top theaters named by Fodor’s Travel

Image of the marquee for "Honeymoon in Vegas" played the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, before moving to Broadway.
“Honeymoon in Vegas” played the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, before moving to Broadway.

Fodor’s Travel released a list of its picks for the top 10 regional theaters in the U.S. and the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn  made the list. That’s the good news. The bad news — it’s the only New Jersey theater to do so.

The list doesn’t give criteria for its choices, but I can’t argue with their selection, which includes the Arena Stage in D.C., Steppenwolf in Chicago, Yale Rep in New Haven, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, La Jolla in San Diego,  American Rep in Cambridge, Alliance in Atlanta, Berkeley Rep in California, and the Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio.

We know NJ has loads of great professional theaters. To get a list of them, click here.

To read reasons why Fodor’s, the the world’s largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information, selected each theater, click here.

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