Category Archives: World Premiere

Edna Ferber festival features 5 new one-acts, ‘Selina Peake’ reading

Why have so few people heard of Edna Ferber?

Before Lois Lane was a ground-breaking female reporter at the Daily Planet, Edna Ferber worked at the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal, had published her first novel, and covered both the 1920 Republican and Democratic National Conventions for the United Press Association.
Before ballet choreographer Agnes de Mille created dances that advanced plot and developed character in “Oklahoma!” (1943)

and before Betty Comden, with writing partner Adolph Green, provided lyrics, libretti, and screenplays to some of the most beloved Broadway shows (such as “On the Town, 1944), Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” was made into a ground-breaking Broadway musical  (1926).

It’s recognized as the first “modern” American musical.

Continue reading Edna Ferber festival features 5 new one-acts, ‘Selina Peake’ reading

World premiere musical ‘The Sting’ releases first production shots

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Production photos giving us a first look at the upcoming Broadway-bound world premiere musical “The Sting,” featuring Harry Connick Jr. at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, were released today. Continue reading World premiere musical ‘The Sting’ releases first production shots

McCarter Theatre reveals 3 world premieres for diverse 2018-2019 season

From left, Douglas McGrath, Dominique Morriseau, Ken Ludwig, Eleanor Burgess, and David Hare all have plays being staged at McCarter Theatre in Princeton next season.
From left, Douglas McGrath, Dominique Morriseau, Ken Ludwig, Eleanor Burgess, and David Hare all have plays being staged at McCarter Theatre in Princeton next season.

Let’s cut to the chase …

The Theater Series in order:

— Douglas McGrath’s world premiere adaptation of “The Age of Innocence,” Edith Wharton’s classic gilded age love story, directed by Doug Hughes.

— Dominique Morisseau’s incendiary “Detroit ’67,”  directed by Jade King Carroll

— World premiere of Eleanor Burgess’ “The Niceties,” a riveting look at race and history directed by Kimberly Senior

— World premiere of Ken Ludwig’s “The Gods of Comedy,” directed by Kathleen Marshall

— David Hare’s Tony Award-winning “Skylight,” directed by Emily Mann, McCarter’s Theatre artistic director and resident playwright Continue reading McCarter Theatre reveals 3 world premieres for diverse 2018-2019 season

Alli Angelou juggles grad school, job, and stage debut with NJRep

Alli Angelou, Lincroft section of Middletown, is in the world premiere of "Wild Horses," a coming-of-age story running at the New Jersey Repertory, New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway in Long Branch Company.
Alli Angelou is in the world premiere of “Wild Horses,” a coming-of-age story running at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch Company. (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

Alli Angelou was at work at the New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch recently when her boss, artistic director SuzAnne Barabas, walked in and said she was going to be in their next play.

OK. Sure. No problem.

Angelou, who graduated from Middletown High School South in 2012, has been Barabas’ assistant at the professional, non-profit theater specializing in new American plays for about seven months. But that’s not why she got the job.

“She knew I could sing,” Angelou said. Continue reading Alli Angelou juggles grad school, job, and stage debut with NJRep

Paper Mill’s next season leads with new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJI’m wondering if the project Andrew Lloyd Webber alluded to but wouldn’t name on NBC’s Today show this morning is the world-premiere musical “Unmasked” that leads off the all-musicals 2018-2019 season of Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.

Andrew Lloyd Webbers new book, "Unmasked" is being released March 7, 2018. (Harper)
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir “Unmasked” to be released March 7, 2018. (Harper)

Based on his new autobiographical book of the same title being released tomorrow, it’s expected to be an intimate and sometimes unexpected interpretations of his best-loved songs, rediscovered gems and some new material specially written for this production. John Doyle directs. It runs Sept. 27-Oct. 28.

Continue reading Paper Mill’s next season leads with new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

God’s mercy, a priest’s responsibility at center of new NJ Rep play

Ames Adamson (left) and Jared Michael Delaney in "The Calling," a world premiere by Joel Stone playing at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Brand, NJ, through February 4, 2018. (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)
Ames Adamson (left) and Jared Michael Delaney in “The Calling,” a world premiere by Joel Stone playing at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Brand, NJ, through February 4, 2018. (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

Two men. One, an aging priest whose belief that God is merciful and Jesus is his savior, has never wavered. The other, a middle-aged lapsed Catholic who’s an ICU nurse ministering to very sick people, who agonizes over what kind of God let’s good souls suffer.

Both men are passionate about helping people. Both are deeply concerned about human life and death. Both come to drastically different conclusions about God’s purpose in all of this. And both believe he is right.

That’s the premise of Joel Stone’s interesting two-hander “The Calling,” receiving its world premiere through Feb. 4 at the New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch. Continue reading God’s mercy, a priest’s responsibility at center of new NJ Rep play

Comic book hero El Coqui stars in new Latino play at NJ’S Two River Theater

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El Coqui, a small nocturnal arboreal frog native to Puerto Rico with a  high-pitched call that was introduced into Hawaii and southern Florida, now has invaded New Jersey.

But in this case El Coquí is a human-sized Puerto Rican superhero who gets his power from a vejigante carnival mask in the world premiere play “El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank now through Feb. 4.

Written by Matt Barbot and directed by Jose  Zayas, the play questions individual and national identity and explores what it means to be Latino or not Latino enough in contemporary America via the superhero/comic book genre. Continue reading Comic book hero El Coqui stars in new Latino play at NJ’S Two River Theater

NFL player rails against head injuries in new play ‘Halftime With Don’

Don Devers, a retired NFL player and widower, who now lives alone in a sparsely furnished apartment sleeping in an upholstered recliner and living on Pringles and Gatorade, is at the center of Ken Weitzman’s “Halftime With Don,” the latest world premiere play to be staged by the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.

Devers, wonderfully played by Malachy Cleary, has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease found in people who have taken repeated blows to the head. He can’t really know this for sure because he needs to be dead before his brain can be studied.

His symptoms include disorientation, memory loss, social instability, erratic behavior, and poor judgment — but don’t get the idea this two-act play that continues through July 30 is a downer. You might find yourself getting a little misty-eyed at times, but there are plenty of laughs and by the end you’ll be smiling.

Devers says football is not a contact sport, it’s a collision sport. Although his mother forbade him to play, he did anyway, in secret. Not a marquee player, he was known for helping players he knocked down get back up — and warned them he’d do it again if they got in his way.

Yet every single day he misses playing ball and would do it all again. And that can make it hard to sympathize with his illness, at first. But who among us hasn’t made choices that aren’t good for us and we ultimately pay the piper?

Like King Lear railing against the storm, Don rails against the loss of his mind, his deteriorating body and erratic rages, and decides enough is enough. He comes up with a plan for the approaching Super Bowl Sunday.

His self-imposed isolation from the world is broken by Ed Ryan (Dan McVey) who comes knocking at his door eager to meet Devers, his idol and substitute father figure from childhood. Having recently lost his job, he’s hoping Devers will give him the ol’ inspiring half-time locker room speech that gets him back in the “game.”

Lori Vega is making a superb NJ Rep debut as Devers’ potty-mouth daughter Stephanie, an accountant with attitude, who is heavily pregnant by a married football player with a family he intends to keep.

Stephanie moved her father into an apartment closer to her and hired the nurses he refuses to let in to take care of him. Nor does he want to see his daughter. But not for the reason she thinks.

Rounding out the cast is Susan Maris, who plays Ed’s wife  Sarah. She, too, is pregnant and the two women bond immediately. But Ed and Sarah? Communication has been a bit rough recently.

A bit more info from the playwright on how Don and Stephanie got along before their estrangement, and why Sarah and Ed don’t seem to click as well as a couple would be helpful.

Nicely directed by Kent Nicholson (including the best use of Post-It notes I’ve seen on stage), the two-hour play moves along on the small two-level set designed by Jessica Parker and lit by Jill Nagle. Patricia E. Doherty designed the costumes.

This article first was published in the June 22-29, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times. 

 NEW JERSEY REPERTORY COMPANY

179 Broadway, Long Branch

Performances 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays through July 30. 

Tickets are $46 and available at 732-229-3166 or online at njrep.org.

As part of the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, following the production of “Halftime with Don”  at NJ Rep, the play will be performed at B Street Theater in Sacramento, CA.,  and Phoenix Theater in Indianapolis, IN.

 

‘Ballad of Little Jo’ opens tonite at Two River Theater in Red Bank

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Cindi Lauper is writing the songs for the upcoming “Working Girl” Broadway musical. Cher’s life and career is to be the source of a 2018 Broadway show. But long before that, another woman was making her  way in a man’s world (even if she was incognito) and her story was adapted for the stage as “The Ballad of Little Jo.”

The  musical first staged in 2000 at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company — based on a real story made into a 1993 movie of the same title written and directed by Maggie Greenwald — continues through Sunday, June 25, at the Two River Theater Company, 21 Bridge St., Red Bank, NJ.

Set in the late 19th century, “The Ballad of Little Jo” is inspired by a real-life story of American optimism, according to the press release, and infused with a score that evokes the folk ballads of pioneer America. It tells the story of a woman named Josephine Monaghan, originally from Boston and where unmarried  pregnant daughters are banished as disgraceful, makes her way to a tough Idaho mining town where she lived as a man called “Jo” for nearly 20 years.

Continue reading ‘Ballad of Little Jo’ opens tonite at Two River Theater in Red Bank

NJ Repertory’s ‘& Juliet’ has world premiere

From left, John FitzGibbon, Jacob A. Ware and Nadia Brown in "& Juliet." (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)
From left, John FitzGibbon, Jacob A. Ware and Nadia Brown in “& Juliet.” (PHOTO: SuzAnne Barabas)

A young, cutting-edge theater director finds himself rebooting his career at a small conservative college in a sylvan setting in the world premiere of “& Juliet” by Robert Caisley at the New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch.

Charlie Vaughn (Jacob A. Ware) is moving boxes of books, theater cards and, of course Yorick’s “skull,” into his office as the new

semester begins. He soon is joined by David Hughes (John FitzGibbon), a theater professor who has taught at the college for 30 years and had expected to move into the corner office with the grand view himself. Continue reading NJ Repertory’s ‘& Juliet’ has world premiere