Liz on Theatre

December 9, 2019

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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Chatham Players’ “A Christmas Carol’ starts the holiday season in style By Liz Keill CHATHAM, NJ – Charles Dickens’ beloved “Christmas Carol” creates a cheerful glow at The Chatham Playhouse. This musical version of the familiar tale features the author himself narrating, and sometimes ...

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‘A Doll’s House, Parts 2’ explores marriage, identity and compromise By Liz Keill NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Leave it to George Street Playhouse to produce a play that works on so many levels. We have the familiar slamming-the-door exit of Nora Helmut, who abruptly leaves her secure life with ...

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‘Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn’ shimmers and shines at Paper Mill By LIZ KEILL MILLBURN, NJ – What could be more enticing than the rapturous music and lyrics of “Irving’ Berlin’s Holiday Inn” to sweep us into a festive mood for the holidays? The show, based on the 1940’s film of the same name, ...

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‘Charley’s Aunt’ charms with comedic flair at Shakespeare Theatre By LIZ KEILL MADISON, NJ – Who knew that “Charley’s Aunt” would be such a riotous, ridiculous success?  This 1892 play written by Brandon Thomas has all the elements of farce, disguise, intrigue and absurdity to make it a hit, ...

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‘Trial of Donna Caine’ translates real-life story to stage drama By Liz Keill NEW BRUNWICK, NJ – “The Trial of Donna Caine” raises questions of loyalty, initiative and guilt in this George Street Playhouse production. Written by Walter Anderson and directed by David Saint, the play pits Staff ...

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‘Other Desert Cities’ unfolds with family secrets at Chatham Playhouse By LIZ KEILL CHATHAM, NJ – “Other Desert Cities,” the stirring drama by Jon Robin Baitz, revolves around a family’s loyalties and deceptions in a tony Palm Springs household. “Other Desert Cities” refers to the signs along ...

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‘The Color Purple’ flashes by with verve at Paper Mill By Liz Keill MILLBURN, NJ – This Tony-award winning musical caught audiences up in its stunning story of African American life in the deep south over a 40 year period, from 1909 until 1949. Based in the novel by Alice Walker and a ...

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