Liz on Theatre

August 1, 2020

Florham Park, NJ - It’s such a treat to see a live performance in these difficult times. But leave iit to Shakespeare Theatre’s fearless director, Bonnie Monte, to deliver a delightful and provocative evening of Moliere and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The setting is the outside lawn at the Thomas ...

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NEW BRUNSWICK,NJ - A riveting, timely play is now on view at George Street Playhouse, exploring the conflict between Senators Margaret Chase Smith and Joseph McCarthy. With the red scare taking place in the U.S., Smith became concerned that McCarthy had created an atmosphere of fear, where ...

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The Summit Playhouse riveting production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” drew a large, responsive audience on opening night.  The enduring appeal of this story is no less potent than when the actual events occurred, beginning in 1942. Most of us have read the diary, seen the film or a stage ...

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No doubt Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the most prolific composers in recent years. We’ve all heard the music of “Cats” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Evita” and a host of others. Paper Mill Playhouse honors him in this moving tribute The show is  quite a pistache of well known, and not so well known, ...

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CHATHAM, NJ - The setting is a two-bedroom apartment in Yonkers, NY. The time is 1942. We learn that two young boys, Jay and Artie, are about to move in with their cold,domineering grandmother. There’s a lot going on in this taut, smartly written play by Neil Simon. Braden Mellina as Jay, the ...

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New Brunswick, NJ - The play based on Cris Bohjalian’s successful novel, “Midwives,”  is receiving a thoughtful, haunting production at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. The stirling cast brings each character to life during a stormy winter in Vermont. The first act takes place in a ...

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PRINCETON, NJ - Three long-time friends gather at a cabin in the woods in this startling original play by Rachel Bonds. Borrowing from the children’s story, “Goodnight Moon,” the play explores the fraught lives of those trying to reconnect. We learn that Nan is an artist, who one summer had an ...

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MADISON, NJ - When the spirited production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” begins, you’re inclined to think it’s a comedic take on grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge. But we soon see that the Neil Barlett adaptation of the tale does dwell on the dark side. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has ...

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MILLBURN, NJ - The story of Cinderella and her prince seems to have ongoing appeal for all ages. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical glitters and shines with strong voices and sharp choreography by Joann M. Hunter. Director Mark Hoebee has brought a loving, affectionate touch to this production.

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SUMMIT, NJ – You wouldn’t think a follow-up to Henrik Ibsen’s play about Nora Helmer in 19th century Norway would be especially relevant today. But the smart, funny sequel by Lucas Hnath has much to say about marriage, the cost of independence, abandoning one’s family and other issues that ring ...

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No matter how often, or how rarely, you may have seen Shakespeare’s love letter to “Romeo and Juliet,” it still returns with blazing life, in the romantic balcony scene, in the hard lessons we learn about Capulets and Montagues and in the eternal flame of lives snuffed out too soon. The ...

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MILLBURN, NJ  - Judy Garland has made an amazing comeback, with both this charming musical at Paper Mill Playhouse and the new film starring Renee Zellweger. It’s also the anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz,” a film that never seems to lose its appeal. Garland’s early career is the focus of “Chasing ...

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MADISON, NJ - “The Rainmaker” is a play that speaks to the heart and done with such elegance and simplicity that it is unforgettable. Written by N. Richard Nash, this play isn’t often performed.  Under the guidance of Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte, the story is beautifully rendered by a cast ...

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COOPERSTOWN, NY – Glimmerglass Opera Festival has an outstanding reputation for first-rate singers, strong orchestras and glittering productions. This year, the company also takes on a number of issues that are relevant to our time. “Blue” stands out as an innovative study of racial bias, family ...

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CHATHAM, NJ – “Jersey Voices” is now in its 25th season, presenting new works by area playwrights at its intimate theatre on North Passaic Avenue. This year’s selections are also an homage to Artistic Director Bob Lukasik, who recently died. As president of the Chatham Community Players, he was ...

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‘The Wake’ travels through loss and forgiveness at Premiere Stages By Liz Keill UNION, NJ – In a new play by Tammy Ryan, we learn about family angst in the midst of a hurricane in Florida. The complicated, rambling plot involves Maggie (Kathy Rae O’Donnell) who wants to scatter her dead ...

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MADISON, NJ – Since this rambunctious production takes place outdoors, we’re not too concerned with subtleties or even Shakespearean language. This farce, “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged),”  written by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor is directed with verve and ...

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MADISON, NJ – The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has opened its season with a dashing, madcap version of  Alexander Dumas’s  “The Three Musketeers.” Playwright Ken Ludwig has created a play for today’s audience, with contemporary touches and plenty of action. The story, set in 1625 in Paris, ...

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MILLBURN, NJ  - The enduring fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast” never seems to die. From the original 1757 story to a 1946 Jean Cocteau black and white film (which became a classic of French cinema) to a Disney animated film, a 2017 film with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens and, of course, to the ...

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PRINCETON, NJ – Kyra is living on the edge in an upstairs flat in north-west London. When her former employer, and lover, Tom, comes to see her, he is horrified that she will put up with such a sad, paint-peeling habitat. But we learn, in David Hare’s fascinating “Skylight,” she is making a ...

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SUMMIT, NJ – With only one more weekend to see this charming musical at The Summit Playhouse, it’s well worth your time to seek out “She Loves Me” on May 17 or 18 at 8 p.m. or Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. The play, set in 1937, has a long history, first as “The Perfumerie,” set in Budapest, by ...

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CHATHAM, NJ – There’s no one quite like Oscar Wilde to take a somewhat jaundiced view of the byways of the upper crust in staid London society. “The Importance of Being Earnest,” an Edwardian farce, was perhaps Wilde’s most popular play and still seems to amuse and entertain today’s audience.

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SUMMIT, NJ – Brenda Withers’s original play, “String Around My Finger,” looks at the bleak side of life, but does so with warmth and humor.  Tackling medical costs with a light touch seems like an oxymoron, but it’s an intriguing basis for this play. It seems that Emma (Brianna Kalisch) is in ...

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‘Benny and Joon’ exudes quirky charm at Paper Mill By Liz Keill MILLBURN, NJ – You know you’re in for something different when Sam, in a dated black suit and hat, stands on the stage alone. Then a tiny train moves by and he gets on, with suitcase in hand. We’re off to “Benny and Joon,” the ...

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Princeton, NJ – “The Gods of Comedy” descends on a college campus in Ken Ludwig’s riff on Greek mythology. The plot centers on Daphne (Shay Vawn), a university professor who is studying in Greece. When she returns to campus, her colleague Ralph (Jevron McFerrin) says he’s found an original ...

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SUMMIT, NJ – A haunting,  memorable play, “The Glass Menagerie,” is given a warm, caring production at The Summit Playhouse. Under the direction of Arnold Buchiane, this Tennessee Williams play (his first notable success) weaves the story of a son, a mother and a daughter in their small shabby ...

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‘Play On’  makes for a dizzying romp at Chatham Playhouse By Liz Keill CHATHAM, NJ – If you need a laugh, and who doesn’t these days, “Play On” is just right for you. In this scenario, the actors and director have assembled to put on “Murder Most Foul.” But of course, anything that can go ...

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‘My Very Own British Invasion’ is short on plot, but long on rock By Liz Keill MILLBURN, NJ – Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a rollicking, rock and roll extravaganza in its premier production of  “My Very Own British Invasion.” We start with a fast and furious tribute to the Beatles, ...

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‘Little Girl Blue’ celebrates Nina Simone in words and music By Liz Keill NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – George Street Playhouse has brought a heartwarming story to the stage in “Little Girl Blue: the Nina Simone Musical.” Laiona Michelle, who delivered a powerful performance in “American Hero” at ...

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‘The Winter’s Tale’ makes sweeping shifts from drama to froth at Shakespeare Theatre By Liz Keill MADISON, NJ – From the chilly winter in Sicilia to the warmth and summer joys of Bohemia, the scene and tenor shift halfway through “The Winter’s Tale,” This convoluted plot involving Leontes, ...

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