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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Off-Broadway League announces Lucille Lortel Awards nominations

The Barrow Street Theater was converted into a pie shop for the immersive staging of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."
The Barrow Street Theatre was converted into a pie shop for the immersive staging of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” nominated for seven Lucille Lortel Awards.

The new musical “Hadestown,” a folk opera produced by the New York Theatre Workshop, and the immersive “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” currently at the Barrow Street Theatre, each earned seven nominations in the 32nd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway, the Off-Broadway League  recently announced.

For plays, Paula Vogel’s “Indecent” and J.T. Rogers’” Oslo,” both currently on Broadway, each earned four  nominations, including for Outstanding Play.

Playwrights Horizons’ “A Life” also earned four nominations, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play for star David Hyde Pierce and Outstanding Director Anne Kauffman, earning her fourth career Lortel Award nomination; as did MCC Theater’s “YEN,” including one for recent Academy Award nominee Lucas Hedges for Outstanding Lead Actor.Lighting Designer Ben Stanton earned a nomination for the fifth consecutive year – and his seventh career nomination, including a win in 2011 – for his work on “YEN.” The newly added Outstanding Projection Design category netted a dual nomination for Peter Nigrini for his work on “Dear Evan Hansen” and  “Wakey, Wakey.”

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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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‘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.

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Can’t stop watching 2013 Tony Awards opening

No doubt, at least in my mind, that this is the best Tony Award show opening number ever.  Even Broadway pros are looking around with their mouths hanging open in astonishment (look for Debra Messing’s swiveling head).  It’s not just the look, it’s the clever lyrics and jokes that bring the spectacle to a higher level.

But what else would you expect from the guys who wrote the specialty song “Bigger” — Tony Award winners Tom Kitt and the pre-“Hamilton” genius Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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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?

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Bedlam director delivers darker ‘Merry Wives’ at Two River Theater

Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O'Connell and Nicole Lewis in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)
Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O’Connell and Nicole Lewis in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)

The second the lights come up on the set of the Two River Theater’s  “The Merry Wives of Windsor” you know this production is not your grandmother’s Shakespeare.

Sir John Falstaff (Jason O’Connell) is handcuffed to a bed with a ball gag in his mouth and wearing very little else. Mistress Ford (Nicole Lewis), in black baby-doll lingerie, stands next to the bed holding a gun.

The location is a seedy motel room strewn with clothes, liquor bottles, and garbage. It’s decorated with bulls’ horns, paint-by-number art, and a multi-colored carpet that hides all stains. Projected on the wall are the words “Right Now.”

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TNT’s ‘Will’ looks at punk-rock theater scene in Elizabethan London

We  don’t know much about the personal life of William Shakespeare, but TNT is taking a fictionalized stab at it with a bare bodkin in a new series called “Will,”

The first 10 episodes “reveal” 16th century London as a seductive, violent world where Shakespeare’s raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. The “wild life” of the most famous playwright in history, according to a Deadline.com post. It’s described as a “contemporary version of Shakespeare’s life played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.”

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Paper Mill Playhouse reveals next season has 2 world premiere musicals

Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season, which includes two potential Broadway transfers.
Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season,  including two potential Broadway transfers.

Give a playhouse the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016 and watch it turn its 2017-2018 season into one featuring two world premieres — which have all the earmarks of potential Broadway transfers — and two East Coast premieres.

Announced today, the season includes: the world-premiere musical “The Honeymooners” (Sept. 28-Oct. 29), ” Annie” (Nov. 22-Dec. 31),  East Coast premiere of “The Outsider” (Jan. 24-Feb. 18), the world premiere of “The Sting” (March 29-April 29) in a new musical stage adaptation,  and the East Coast premiere of the comedy “Half Time” (May 31-July 1). Continue reading Paper Mill Playhouse reveals next season has 2 world premiere musicals

‘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.”)

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News and views of New Jersey's regional theaters, and bits about Broadway.

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