January 18, 2017

BURIAL BATTLE: Laertes (Edmund Lewis, on bottom) and Hamlet (Eric Tucker) fight over the corpse of Ophelia (Andrus Nichols) in the graveyard, as Hamlet prepares for his final revenge in Bedlam theater company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through February 12. (Photo by Elizabeth Nichols)

A New York-based theater company founded in 2012, Bedlam, currently presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Shaw’s Saint Joan in rotating repertory at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre, has received much acclaim from New York critics and others for its productions over the past four years. McCarter artistic director Emily Mann saw their Saint Joan a few years ago in New York City, and “was determined to bring Bedlam’s work to Princeton.” more

January 11, 2017

PHS graduate Damien Chazelle met recently with Town Topics film reviewer Kam Williams to  talk about his latest movie, La La Land, which swept the Golden Globes Sunday, winning a record seven awards.

Damien wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories.

In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Previously, Damien wrote Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack, and co-wrote the horror sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane, starring John Goodman. His screenplays for Whiplash and The Claim both appeared on the “Blacklist,” the annual survey of the most liked motion picture screenplays not yet produced.

Damien shot his first feature film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, while still an undergraduate at Harvard University. The critically-acclaimed debut was named the Best First Feature of 2010 by L.A. Weekly and was described as “easily the best first film in eons” by Time Out New York. more

January 4, 2017

Photo by Mitsu Yasukawa

As it pursues its mission to support playwrights, new plays, and the future of the American theater, McCarter Theatre Center’s LAB program will be putting to work a $35,000 grant, announced last month, from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“The future of the American theater rests with the American playwright,” McCarter artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann stated. “We take it as a core mission of this theater to develop and support new works and the playwrights who create them.”

LAB offers readings, workshops, a 10-day artists’ retreat in the spring, commissions and the annual LAB Spotlight Production. It also provides McCarter audiences with a window into the creative process. New works developed in the McCarter LAB have included pieces by Christopher Durang (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike), Danai Gurira (Eclipsed), Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics), Regina Taylor (Crowns), Tarrell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) and more.

Noura, a new play by Iraqi-American playwright and performer Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire), will be featured at the end of this month as a LAB Spotlight Production. Created after years of work in Arab American communities in New York City, where Ms. Raffo discussed A Doll’s House with Middle Eastern women, Noura is “a timely re-imagining” of Ibsen’s play “through the lens of an Iraqi refugee family” and “a passionate exploration of contemporary feminism that reflects the dilemma facing modern America: do we live for each other or for ourselves?” more

The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank will host an epic Elvis Presley Birthday Bash starring expert impersonators, musicians Scot Bruce and Mike Albert on Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. Both are known for their uncanny resemblance to the young “King” and have earned endorsements by Elvis’s former back-up singers. Special requests will be taken by the audience. Ticket prices range from $20-$40. To purchase, visit www.countbasietheatre.org.

Cirque Éloize Saloon visits the State Theatre of NJ in New Brunswick on Wednesday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m. Through gravity-defying acrobatic prowess, inventive choreography, and live music (including renditions of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and “Crazy” by Patsy Cline), Montreal’s Cirque Éloize brings the rollicking world of Saloon to the stage, inspired by stories of America’s Wild West. To purchase tickets, visit www.statetheatrenj.org or call (732) 246-7469. State Theatre of NJ is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick.

December 28, 2016

Photo Credit: Sydney Becker

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Mad Forest by Caryl Churchill, with set and lighting design by senior Sydney Becker and directed by junior Nico Krell, on January 12, 13, and 15 at 8 p.m. and January 14 at 2 and 8 p.m. Performances will take place in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio located at 185 Nassau Street. A discussion with Associate Professor of English Tamsen Wolff will follow the January 12th performance.

Mad Forest offers a personal look into the events of the 1989 Romanian Revolution as two families witness the radical collapse of their entire way of life. The play’s three acts occur shortly before, during, and after the revolution. Through these personal stories the play paints an incisive portrait of a society in turmoil to reveal what life is like under a totalitarian regime and what results when that regime is gone. When rebellion brings down a dictator, the characters are left to grapple with what is left in the void and how they will use their newfound freedom. more

Playwright Naomi Iizuka

Award-winning playwrights Naomi Iizuka and Sarah Ruhl have been selected by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and McCarter Theatre Center as the next Roger S. Berlind ’52 Playwrights-in-Residence. Both writers will engage with Princeton students in the coming year through teaching, master classes, or workshops and will write and develop a new play.

This program, made possible by the support of Roger S. Berlind, Princeton Class of 1952, recognizes exciting established playwrights whose work has had significant impact on the field.

“I’m delighted in welcoming back to Princeton two artists we worked with when they were still ‘emerging,’” commented Michael Cadden, Chair of the Lewis Center. “Naomi was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton in 1998 and our Program in Theater produced Sarah’sMelancholy Play as its Fall Show in 2002. It’s been a pleasure to see them evolve into two of the best playwrights in America today.” more

December 21, 2016

DAUGHTER DAYS AT GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE: Elise Vannerson (foreground) and Ben Michael (background) play Jerusha and Jervis in “Daddy Long Legs” at George Street Playhouse until December 24, 2016. George Street is offering their “Daughter Days” package on select performances. The package includes buy one, get one free tickets, hot chocolate and candy bar intermission, and the opportunity to go on-stage after the show. “Daughter Days” seeks to promote the importance of female education and creative expression. For tickets, call the box office at (732) 246-7717 or visit www.georgestreetplayhouse.org. (Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson)

Weaved throughout the musical romance of Daddy Long Legs, currently on stage at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse, are messages promoting the importance of education and the empowerment of young girls and women. So what better way to share those ideals this holiday season than with a special “Daughter Days” package for select performances of Daddy Long Legs December 22 and 24. Daddy Long Legs is appropriate for daughters ages 10 through 100.  more

December 14, 2016

McCarter Theatre is proud to announce its reimagined production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Directed by Adam Immerwahr, A Christmas Carol runs from now through December 31 in the Matthews Theatre. Boasting a gigantic list of Broadway, regional and international credits, the cast of A Christmas Carol features returning McCarter veterans Jessica Bedford (The Mousetrap), Warner Miller (Antony & Cleopatra), Lance Roberts (Sweet+Hot), and JD Taylor (The Understudy). They are joined by first-time McCarter artists Elisha Lawson, Anne L. Nathan, Jamila Sabares-Klemm, A.J. Shively, Sue Jin Song, Greg Wood, and Frank X. Pictured above are Zachary McDevitt, Warner Miller, and Liam McKernan. Purchase tickets online at www.mccarter.org or call (609) 258-2787. (Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson)

END OF SEMESTER DANCE PERFORMANCES: The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance will present a series of showings of new choreography created by students and choreography learned during the past semester on December 14 through 16 and on January 23 in the Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio and 3rd Floor Dance Studio at 185 Nassau Street and New South Dance Studio. All performances are free and open to the public. (Photo Credit: Larry Levanti)

Princeton University students will perform choreography learned and new student choreography created during the fall semester on December 14 through 16 and January 23 in the Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio and 3rd Floor Dance Studio at 185 Nassau Street and New South Dance Studio. more

Chita Rivera

The ten-time Tony-nominated actress, dancer, and singer Chita Rivera discussed her extensive career on Broadway in musicals such as West Side Story and Chicago with Broadway director John Doyle, a professor in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. The discussion took place on Monday, December 12 at 2 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ‘32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street as a part of Doyle’s fall course, “Luminaries of the American Musical Theater.” Presented by the Lewis Center’s new Program in Music Theater. more

More celebratory than a glass of champagne, Salute to Vienna New Year’s Eve Concert at the State Theatre of NJ in New Brunswick is a delight for the eyes and ears. The concert features the Strauss Symphony of America, conductor Imre Kollar (Budapest), soprano Katarzyna Dondalska (Berlin-Warsaw), tenor Zoltan Nyari (Budapest), dancers from the National Ballet of Hungary, and International Champion Ballroom Dancers. Guests are guaranteed to fall for the “Blue Danube Waltz” all over again! For tickets, call (732) 246-7469 or visit www.statetheatrenj.org.

December 7, 2016

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) brings the beloved classic “Nutracker” to the stage with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, new sets, thrilling choreography, and more than 100 performers. A holiday tradition for more than 50 years, ARB’s is one of the longest continuously running “Nutcracker” productions in the nation. Directed by Artistic Director Douglas Martin, ARB’s professional company will be joined by select students from Princeton Ballet School to tell the story of a young girl named Clara and how a mysterious gift from her Uncle brings about enchanted dreams and fantastical scenes. For tickets, visit www.statetheatrenj.org or call (732) 246-7469. (Photo Credit: Leighton Chen)

Simon Morrison was hoping to pursue a career as an orchestral musician when he fell in love with 20th-century Russian music. From that fascination grew an interest in Russian ballet. Soon, these subjects, and their histories, eclipsed his plans to play percussion or tuba in a symphony orchestra. more

December 2, 2016

music-garfunkel-12-7-16

Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel, one of the most celebrated voices in American music, will perform at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium on Tuesday, December 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Garfunkel, along with his former partner Paul Simon, has received numerous awards and critical acclaim for his music, including 5 Grammy awards, the prestigious Britannia Award, Rolling Stone’s Best Album of the Year notation, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. more

November 9, 2016

11-9-16play-review-birthday-surprise

BIRTHDAY SURPRISES: (L to R) Matt (Grant Shaud), Jill (June Ballinger), Carol (Leslie Ayvazian), and Dan (Ken Land) leave the city for a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast in the Poconos to celebrate Carol’s 60th birthday, and they find themselves in unexpected, unsettling emotional territory in Passage Theatre’s production of Leslie Ayvazian’s “Out of the City,” playing through November 20 at the Mill Hill Playhouse in Trenton. (Photo by Michael Goldstein)

At least since A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s “out-of-the-city” play set in ancient Athens and the surrounding forest, leaving the structured, rule-bound urban world for a sojourn in the unconstrained world of nature has been a risky proposition, bringing about all sorts of romantic upheavals, shifting relationships, and surprising transformations of identity. more

November 2, 2016

brian-sanders

Growing up in Princeton, Brian Sanders was captivated by two things: ballet and gymnastics. The 1984 graduate of Princeton High School divided his time between Princeton Ballet School and Alt’s Gym.

Initially, ballet won out. Mr. Sanders spent several years studying at Princeton Ballet with the late Alexei Yudenich, who was a principal dancer with The Pennsylvania Ballet. So there is something gratifying about the fact that a piece by Mr. Sanders, now a choreographer with his own company, is being performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet next weekend. Chicken Bone Brain shares a program with works by George Balanchine and British choreographer David Dawson at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theatre November 10-13. more

theater-once-11-2-16

“ONCE”: Seniors Sam Gravitte and Maddie Meyers in rehearsal for the Lewis Center for the Arts’s production of the musical “Once.” The show runs November 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19 at 8 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. Tickets are available at (609) 258-2787 and online at arts.princeton.edu/once. (Photo Credit: Graham Phillips)

The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University presents the Tony Award-winning musical Once, directed by senior Graham Phillips and featuring seniors Sam Gravitte and Maddie Meyers, on November 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. in the Berlind Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center. more

October 27, 2016

disgraced

HOSPITALITY TO HOSTILITY: (L to R) Amir (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh), Emily (Caroline Kaplan), Isaac (Kevin Isola), and Jory (Austene Van) enjoy a cordial dinner before resentments surface and the mood turns dark in McCarter Theatre’s production of Ayad Akhtar’s 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Disgraced,” at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre through October 30. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

If Ayad Akhtar’s characters had followed my grandmother’s warning, “We never discuss politics or religion at social occasions,” his 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Disgraced would never have been written.

Now playing in a riveting production at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre, the 90-minute uninterrupted, four-scene exploration of identity, Islam, and what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America, as seen through the interwoven lives of five New York City characters, was the most often produced play in the United States in the 2015-16 season.  more

September 28, 2016

Photo Credit: NARENDRA DANGIYA

Photo Credit: NARENDRA DANGIYA

Acclaimed dancer/choreographer Aparna Ramaswamy brings her solo work They Rose at Dawn to the Berlind Theatre on October 23 at 3 p.m. In this solo work, women are depicted as carriers of ritual. Navigating inner and outer worlds, they invoke a sense 
of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of imagination. more

September 21, 2016

hannia_guillen_and_ral_mndez-_photo_by_t-_charles_erickson_2

FORBIDDEN PASSION: Father Monroe (Raul Mendez) visits Marcela (Hannia Guillen) and her struggling Cuban-American family, but his pastoral kindness turns into much more, in McCarter Theatre’s production of Nilo Cruz’s world premiere of “Bathing in Moonlight” at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre through October 9. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Father Monroe (Raul Mendez) welcomes the audience into his church in the opening moments of Bathing in Moonlight, Nilo Cruz’s new play, currently at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. The smiling priest in his 40s, attractive, warm, addressing his “parishioners” individually as friends, makes his way down the aisle to the stage, where Edward Pierce’s striking set and lighting — with a red cross in the middle of a large stained glass window and latticed wooden screen backdrop — emphasizes the church setting. more

September 14, 2016

dwan-9-14-16

Acclaimed Irish actress Lisa Dwan will give a talk entitled “Performing Beckett” on Friday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center for the Arts’ James M. Stewart ’32 Theater, 185 Nassau Street. Part of the 2016-17 Fund for Irish Studies series at Princeton University, the event is free and open to the public. more

McCarter Theatre Center will renew its annual tradition in December of 2016 with a reimagined version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As part of this new theatrical endeavor, McCarter is looking for a new group of young actors ages 5 to 13 to form this year’s Young Ensemble.

Sign-Ups for A Christmas Carol Young Ensemble Auditions will be held at McCarter Theatre Center on Wednesday, September 14 from 3 to 6 p.m.  more

kelsey-9-14-16

MUSIC AND MIRTH AT KELSEY THEATRE: Virginia Repertory Theatre presents “The Princess and the Pea” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on Saturday, October 1 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students, and children. To purchase, call the Box Office at (609) 570-3333 or visit www.kelseytheatre.net.

Love will always find a way. It’s never been more true than in “The Princess and The Pea,” to be presented by Virginia Repertory Theatre at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre on Saturday, October 1 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

September 13, 2016

blue-man-group-image-bald-colors-look-1440x2560

The Manny L. Friedman Foundation has partnered with The Blue Man Group for their first annual fundraising event, which will be held at the Astor Place Theater in New York City on Sunday, September 25 at 1:30 p.m. The mission of the Manny L. Freidman Foundation is to make every animal smile! Proceeds from the evening’s event will benefit no-kill shelters nationwide. A Lawrenceville, NJ resident, Manny lived his 28 years with an unwavering commitment to caring for animals of all kinds. To purchase tickets, visit www.mannyfriedman.org.