May 15, 2019

“SKYLIGHT:” Performances are underway for “Skylight.” Directed by Emily Mann, the play runs through June 2 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Kyra, a schoolteacher (Mahira Kakkar, left) attempts to rekindle her relationship with restaurant entrepreneur Tom (Greg Wood), but differences in lifestyle and ideology have caused them to grow apart. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre is concluding its season with Skylight. In this literate play by David Hare, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis unexpectedly is visited by her former lover, restaurant entrepreneur Tom Sergeant, and by Tom’s teenage son Edward. Tom and Kyra attempt to reignite their relationship, but find that differences in their ideologies and lifestyle choices may make them incompatible. This engaging production is directed by Emily Mann, McCarter’s artistic director.

Skylight premiered in the West End in 1995, and opened on Broadway the following year. A 2014 West End revival transferred to Broadway, winning the 2015 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

At the end of a winter day, Kyra, who is in her early 30s, arrives home at her flat in London, and empties a shopping bag containing ingredients for a spaghetti dinner. She is surprised to see the 18-year-old Edward, an intense young man who is taking a year off between high school and college, standing in her doorway. Although the encounter is awkward, it is clear that Kyra and Edward know each other well. She invites him in and turns on a rather ineffective electric heater. more

May 8, 2019

“MORIR SONYANDO”: Performances are underway for “Morir Sonyando.” Directed by C. Ryanne Domingues, the play runs through May 19 at Passage Theatre. Felix (Daniel Colón, left) and Genesis (Maria Peyramaure, center) try to come to terms with the abuse inflicted, and endured, by their mother, Paloma (Johanna Tolentino, right). (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre is presenting the New Jersey premiere of Morir Sonyando. This poignant family drama, which is set in North Philadelphia, had its world premiere in 2014 at Philadelphia’s Power Street Theatre Company, where author Erlina Ortiz is resident playwright and artistic director.

The title refers to a crucial moment in the story. It can be translated as “die dreaming,” and is the name of a drink that is popular in the Dominican Republic. According to the program, the misspelling of “soñando” is derived from the way Ortiz spelled the word when she was younger.

Morir Sonyando concerns the stormy relationship of a Dominican woman, Genesis — and her younger brother, Felix — with their mother, Paloma, who is a victim of domestic violence. Paloma has murdered her husband in a desperate attempt to protect her children, but inflicts on them the treatment she has endured. more

April 24, 2019

RICHARD III: Performances are underway for “Richard III.” Presented by Theatre Intime and directed by Naomi Park ‘21, the play runs through April 27 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Richard III (Paige Allen, left) persuades Lady Anne (Miranda Allegar, right) to marry him, despite the fact that he has murdered her first husband: Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales. (Photo by Naomi Park ’21)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime, whose cast and production team consist of Princeton University students, is presenting Shakespeare’s Richard III. Director Naomi Park has opted out of drawing overt parallels to political events outside of those that occur in the play; this sleek production evokes the 15th century without being constrained by it.

The play is a fictionalized depiction of the bloody rise to the throne, and downfall, of King Richard III of England (1452-1485), the former Duke of Gloucester. It is believed to have been written in the early 1590s; the New Cambridge edition of 1999 conjectures that the play was written in 1593, with the premiere possibly having taken place in 1594. It was published in the first Quarto in 1597, and was included in the First Folio (Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies) in 1623.

“I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days,” Richard confides to the audience at the beginning of the show. To gain the crown, Richard schemes to pit his brother, King Edward IV, against his other brother, the Duke of Clarence, by having the latter arrested on a trumped-up charge of treason, and murdered while imprisoned in the Tower of London. This places Richard in a position to serve as regent until Edward’s son (and namesake) is old enough to be crowned. more

April 10, 2019

“FICTION”: Performances are underway for Pegasus Theatre Company’s production of “Fiction.” Directed by Peter Bisgaier, the play runs through April 14 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Linda (Jennifer Nasta Zefutie, foreground) is forced to re-examine her marriage to Michael (David C. Neal, rear left), when she reads his journal entries about his encounter with the mysterious Abby (Sarah Stryker, rear right) at a writers’ retreat.  (Photo by Darren Sussman)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

When author Linda Waterman is diagnosed with a malignant tumor and given three weeks to live, she secures a promise from her husband Michael, who also is a writer, that he will read her diaries after she dies. She also asks him to let her read his journals. This request makes him edgy, but he agrees — after tearing a page out of one of his notebooks. What follows is the unveiling of multiple layers of secrets in a seemingly close, if contentious, marriage — secrets that may or may not be true.

Written by Steven Dietz, Fiction premiered in 2002 at McCarter Theatre Center. The play returns to the Princeton area through the Pegasus Theatre Company. more

March 20, 2019

“THE GODS OF COMEDY”: Performances are underway for “The Gods of Comedy.” Directed by Amanda Dehnert, the play runs through March 31 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Classics professor Daphne Rain (Shay Vawn, right) is visited by Dionysus (Brad Oscar, left) and Thalia (Jessie Cannizzaro). (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre is presenting the world premiere of The Gods of Comedy. In this delightful farce by Ken Ludwig, a classics professor makes a mistake that threatens her career, as well as her romantic interest in a colleague. She is visited by Dionysus, the God of Wine and Revelry; and Thalia, the Muse of Comedy and Idyllic Poetry. They are magical, have a passing familiarity with American pop culture, and come when they are needed. They also are impulsive and disaster-prone.

The young, independent, and ambitious professor Daphne Rain, who is planning to direct a production of Medea as part of her tenure folio, is visiting the island of Naxos. She is closely observed by Aristide, an eager merchant, who serves as a narrator at the beginning of the play. more

March 6, 2019

“COWBOY VERSUS SAMURAI”: Performances are underway for “Cowboy Versus Samurai.” Presented by Theatre Intime and the East West Theater Company at Princeton University, and directed by Jacy Duan ‘21, the play runs through March 9 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Veronica (Megan Pan ’22, left) and Travis (Richard Peng ’20) have much in common. However, Veronica’s romantic preferences exacerbate Travis’ insecurities about his identity, presenting obstacles to the development of their relationship. (Photo by Naomi Park ’21)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Things in nature always hide. Lizards change the color of their skins. Moths live or die based on the color of their wings,” muses Del, a high school P.E. teacher who is Caucasian. “They do these things because when you stand out in the world you invite danger. You … will be eaten alive by something that was waiting for you to show yourself. And that’s how I felt, standing like a shadow on your outskirts, invisible.”

This poetic monologue turns out to be one of many letters written, on Del’s behalf, to Veronica Lee, an intelligent and charming Asian American woman who has recently moved to the small town of Breakneck, Wyoming, to teach biology. The author of the letters is Travis Park, an English teacher who is Del’s friend and colleague, and the only Korean American man in Breakneck. Travis loves Veronica, but she prefers to date white men.

Theatre Intime and the East West Theater Company of Princeton University are presenting a talented production of Cowboy Versus Samurai. Michael Golamco, a playwright of Filipino and Chinese American descent, crafts this witty but moving romantic comedy as a contemporary re-imagining of Cyrano de Bergerac. more

February 20, 2019

“BICYCLE FACE”: Passage Theatre has continued its Solo Flights series with “Bicycle Face.” The show is written and performed by Hannah Van Sciver (above), and directed by David O’Connor. (Photo by Kate Raines)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre continued its annual Solo Flights series with Bicycle Face, which was presented February 15-17. Written and performed by Hannah Van Sciver, and set in Philadelphia, this provocative monologue is a work of performance art. Multimedia is blended with live performance — dramatic and musical — to examine cultural attitudes in the late 19th century, the present, and a hypothetical future.

Created in 2015, the show premiered in June of that year in the Philadelphia SoLow Festival. Subsequent performances have included the Razor’s Edge Solo Performance Festival in New Orleans and the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row in New York City. more

January 23, 2019

“THE NICETIES”: Performances are underway for “The Niceties.” Directed by Kimberly Senior, the play runs through February 10 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Zoe, a college student (Jordan Boatman, left) and Janine, a history professor (Lisa Banes) have a contentious discussion — and face its aftermath. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Choices have consequences,” a professor admonishes a student in The Niceties. In this multifaceted drama by Eleanor Burgess, a critique of a paper becomes a debate about race and American history. In the course of their conversation the characters choose words, and actions, that disrupt their lives.

On the surface, The Niceties is about racial injustice and its connection to American history. On a deeper fundamental level, the play examines the extent to which communication is difficult, particularly when conflict is magnified by social media. Generational tensions — including parent-child relationships — and gender issues are explored, as well as the conflict between idealism and pragmatism.  more

December 12, 2018


“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Performances are underway for “A Christmas Carol.” Directed by Adam Immerwahr, the play runs through December 29 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Bob Cratchit (Jon Norman Schneider, second from left) and Mrs. Cratchit (Sharin Martin, back right) celebrate with their children, played by members of the young ensemble (from left): Alexander Perez, Ethan Chang, Romy Johnson, and Alicianna Rodriguez. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

A Christmas Carol has returned to McCarter Theatre. To fully experience this annual production, audiences should arrive well before curtain time. Dressed in costumes that evoke Dickensian London, adult members of the community ensemble circulate the lobby. They are eager to discuss a model of the set, or to serenade anyone who will join them in a spirited rendition of “Jingle Bells.” more

December 5, 2018

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In The Luck of the Irish, an African American woman discovers that a transaction, necessitated by racial injustice, may prevent her from owning the house she has inherited from her grandparents. Written by Kirsten Greenidge, this play derives its central conflict from the determination of parents to provide a space — and a future — in which their children belong. more

November 14, 2018

“IPHIGENIA AND OTHER DAUGHTERS”: Performances are underway for “Iphigenia and Other Daughters.” Presented by Theatre Intime and directed by Princeton University sophomore Rosie Vasen, the play runs through November 17 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Chrysothemis (Katharine Matthias ‘21, left); Electra (E Harper Nora Jeremijenko-Conley ‘20, center); and Clytemnestra (Abby Spare ‘20) confront each other about their family’s murderous past. Photo by Nora Aguiar.

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime, whose cast and production team consist of Princeton University students, is presenting Ellen McLaughlin’s Iphigenia and Other Daughters. The play is a contemporary retelling of three Greek tragedies — Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris and Sophocles’ Electra — with an emphasis on the female characters’ points of view, though Iphigenia’s brother, Orestes, is integral to the story.  more

October 3, 2018

“SALT PEPPER KETCHUP”: Performances are underway for “Salt Pepper Ketchup.” Directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, the play runs through October 14 at Passage Theatre. Paul (Justin Pietropaolo, left), a representative of a food co-op, shows restaurant owners John Wu (Fenton Li) and his wife Linda (Chuja Seo) an article about their new partnership — but the results are different from what has been promised. (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre is opening its season with the first professional production of Salt Pepper Ketchup. Playwright Josh Wilder was born and raised in Philadelphia, where the play is set; this is reflected by the script’s urgent realism. Director Jerrell L. Henderson, who directed the equally thought-provoking Caged for Passage’s previous season, has elicited uniformly strong performances from the gifted cast. more

September 19, 2018

“THE AGE OF INNOCENCE”: Performances are underway for “The Age of Innocence.” Directed by Doug Hughes, the play runs through October 7 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. An Old Gentleman (Boyd Gaines, far left) looks on as Newland Archer (Andrew Veenstra, left) and Countess Ellen Olenska (Sierra Boggess) face the conflict between their love, and their responsibility to their families — and to society in 1870s New York. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson.) 

By Donald H. Sanborn III

An exquisite new stage adaptation of The Age of Innocence opened September 15 at McCarter. In adapting Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, which in 1921 made her the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, playwright Douglas McGrath honors its literary intent. However, he skillfully edits it to heighten its power as a piece of theater.

As pianist Yan Li plays the pensive opening notes of the incidental score by Mark Bennett, an Older Gentleman of the 1920s enters. He describes New York in the 1870s — the Gilded “Age” that gives the novel its ironic title — as a place where elite society brings rigid social conventions.

At the Academy of Music — which is the preeminent place to see an opera, as the Metropolitan on 39th Street is still under construction — an older woman, Mrs. Manson Mingott, is seated in a box with other female members of her family, including the Countess Ellen Olenska.  more

September 12, 2018

CUBAN ROOTS: Aydmara Cabrera, shown here in “Swan Lake,” hopes to bring her experience at National Ballet of Cuba into the curriculum of Princeton Ballet School.

Former National Ballet of Cuba principal dancer Aydmara Cabrera has been named school director of Princeton Ballet School (PBS), the official school of American Repertory Ballet (ARB).

According to Julie Diana Hench, executive director of American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School, “Ms. Cabrera is already a beloved teacher and ballet master at PBS, and will be an incredible member of the leadership team. She has impressive professional experience and an inspiring vision for the School that will provide students even greater opportunities. Ms. Cabrera’s passion for the art form is infectious and we are thrilled to have her lead Princeton Ballet School into an exciting new era.” more

“NEWSIES”: Performances are underway for PinnWorth Productions’ presentation of “Newsies.” Directed by LouJ Stalsworth, the musical runs through September 16 at the Kelsey Theatre. Katherine Plumber, a mysterious reporter (Bridget Hughes, left) interviews Jack Kelly (Rob Ryan), who leads the delivery boys on strike after Joseph Pulitzer increases the cost of the newspapers to them. (Photo by Robert A. Terrano)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

On July 23, 1899, the New York Herald printed the following headline: “Newsboys’ Strike Promises Success.” That promise is fulfilled by PinnWorth Productions’ presentation of the Broadway musical Newsies, which is playing at the Kelsey Theatre. Directed by LouJ Stalsworth, this polished, energetic production demonstrates why the unsuccessful 1992 film succeeds on stage.

Having rejuvenated the genre of animated musicals with blockbusters such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, Disney attempted to do the same for live-action musical films. However, Newsies was commercially unsuccessful in its theatrical release. more

September 5, 2018

FROM PAGE TO STAGE: Helen Cespedes and Andrew Veenstra star in Douglas McGrath’s play adapted from Edith Wharton’s classic novel “The Age of Innocence,” at McCarter Theatre Center starting Friday. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Anne Levin

Fans of Edith Wharton find plenty to love in The Age of Innocence, her novel about a New York love triangle in the stultifying high society of the Gilded Age. But when they were younger, playwright Douglas McGrath, who wrote the theatrical adaptation that opens at McCarter Theatre Center on September 7, and Doug Hughes, who directed the production, did not count themselves among those fans. more

August 15, 2018

From September 7 to October 7 in the Berlind Theatre, McCarter Theatre is hosting the world premiere production of “The Age of Innocence,” a tale of star-crossed lovers forced to choose between love and honor. The play is adapted by Oscar and Tony nominee (and Princeton University alumnus) Douglas McGrath and directed by Tony Award-winner Doug Hughes. About the production, McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann said: “What I love most about Douglas McGrath’s brilliant adaptation is how all of us — regardless of age, background, or varied experiences — look back on our past decisions and wonder ‘did I make the right choice?’ This production shows the universal truth behind the struggle of choosing one path over another.” Tickets start at $25 –­­­­­  to purchase, visit mccarter.org or call (609) 258-2787.

August 1, 2018

“THE CHILDREN’S HOUR”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “The Children’s Hour.” Directed by Maeli Goren, the play runs through August 5 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Teachers Karen Wright (Lydia Watt, left) and Martha Dobie (Allison Spann) face the calamity that is caused by a student’s malicious lie. (Photo by Aaron Olkin)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Children’s Hour is an edgy drama set in an all-girls boarding school. One of the students tells a malicious lie that disrupts the school, as well as the lives of the two women who run it. Another student is portrayed by a doll, manipulated by the actor who plays the fiancé of one of the teachers. Directed by Maeli Goren, Princeton Summer Theater’s bold production emphasizes the theatricality inherent in Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play. more

July 18, 2018

“UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Uncommon Women and Others.” Directed by Daniel Krane, the play runs through July 22 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Mrs. Plumm (Carol Lee, center) serves tea to residents of North Stimson Hall, from left: Rita (Allison Spann), Kate (Kat Giordano), Susie (E Harper Nora Jerimijenko-Conley), and Leilah  (Michelle Navis). Photo by Sarah Golobish.

By Donald Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is delivering a polished production of Uncommon Women and Others at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. A press release for this season’s previous production, Tick, Tick…Boom!, states that it “sets the stage for a summer of performances that center around self-discovery as seen through critical turning points in our characters’ lives.” That theme — as well as pressure to succeed with personal and professional accomplishments by the time one reaches a certain age — is shared by this play, which was written by Wendy Wasserstein (1950-2006). more

July 3, 2018

By Taylor Smith 

This year’s Princeton Student Film Festival will take place July 17-19 at 7 p.m. The showings on July 17 will be held at Princeton Garden Theatre, while the showings on July 18 and 19, will be hosted by the Princeton Public Library.

Created and presented by the Princeton Public Library, the Festival features original short films created by student filmmakers ages 14-25. The films were chosen from local, national, and international entries. Some of the films represent college student thesis projects, while others are from novice high school filmmakers who possess a passion for filmmaking and a desire to see their vision portrayed on the big screen.  more

June 27, 2018

“TICK, TICK…BOOM!”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Tick, Tick … Boom!.” Directed by Victoria Davidjohn, the musical runs through July 8 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Susan (Allison Spann, left), Michael (Chibueze Ihuoma, center), and Jon (Isaac Piecuch) sing “Louder Than Words,” the show’s closing number. (Photo by Sarah Golobish)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

“The sound you are hearing is not a technical problem,” quips Jon, the protagonist of Tick, Tick … Boom! “It is the sound of one man’s mounting anxiety. I am that man.” He reveals that he is “a ‘promising young composer.’ I should have kids of my own by now, a career, but … I’m trying to work, trying to enjoy what remains of my extremely late 20s, trying to ignore the tick tick booms.” more

May 16, 2018

“TURNING OFF THE MORNING NEWS”: Performances are underway for “Turning Off the Morning News.” Directed by Artistic Director Emily Mann, the play runs through June 3 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. From left: Jimmy (John Pankow) and Polly (Kristine Nielsen) make a memorable, if undesirable, first impression on new neighbors Salena (Rachel Nicks) and Clifford (Robert Sella). (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

middle-aged father, Jimmy, nonchalantly announces his decision to shoot either his wife Polly and their 13-year-old son Timmy, or strangers at a mall. Polly attempts to ignore Jimmy’s behavior by focusing on her houseplant, and dreaming of going to heaven. Dysfunctional characters and horrifying events are viewed through the lens of a wholesome family sitcom. more

May 9, 2018

“CAGED” IN REHEARSAL: Performances are underway for “Caged.” Directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, the play runs through May 20 at Passage Theatre. From left: cast members Nicolette Lynch, Brandon Rubin, Monah Yancy, and Ural Grant are rehearsing their parts. (Photo by Damion Parran)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre Company is concluding its season with the world premiere of Caged. Written by the New Jersey Prison Cooperative, this play is the synthesis of experiences shared by current or former inmates in the New Jersey prison system. The result is a cohesive, engaging drama in which an African American man struggles to protect his family — and preserve his humanity — in the face of poverty and incarceration. more

April 25, 2018

“TITANIC”: Performances are underway for Playful Theatre Productions’ presentation of “Titanic.” Directed by Frank Ferrara, the musical runs through April 29 at the Kelsey Theatre. Above: Some of the affluent passengers on the ill-fated ship, and the cast members who portray them. (Photomontage designed by Ruth Kresge)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Titanic is being presented at the Kelsey Theatre. Audiences who liked the James Cameron film should enjoy the Broadway musical, which covers the same history with a different emphasis. The show examines the decisions leading up to the sinking of the ship, on April 15, 1912. It also surveys the lifestyles and romantic aspirations of the passengers and crew whose lives were affected by those choices. more

April 18, 2018

BAKERSFIELD MIST: Performances are underway for Pegasus Theatre Project’s production of “Bakersfield Mist.” Directed by Peter Bisgaier, the play runs through April 22 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Maude (Donne Petito, left) and Lionel (Rupert Hinton) have a heated discussion about the authenticity of a painting. (Photo by John M. Maurer)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Bakersfield Mist is a tragicomedy in which Maude Gutman, an unemployed bartender, has purchased a painting from a thrift store. She believes that her acquisition is a Jackson Pollack masterpiece worth millions of dollars; the initial conflict arises when Lionel Percy, a haughty art expert, doubts the painting’s authenticity.  more