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

March 21, 2018

“CROWNS”: Performances are underway for “Crowns.” Directed by playwright Regina Taylor, the musical runs through April 1 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. From left: Wanda (Stephanie Pope); Mother Shaw (Shari Addison); Jeanette (Rebecca E. Covington); Velma (Latice Crawford); and Mabel (Danielle K. Thomas) immerse Chicago teenager Yolanda (Gabrielle Beckford) in their community, history, and “hattitude.” (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Yolanda, an edgy Chicago teenager, is grieving over the loss of her brother, who has been shot. She has been sent to South Carolina to live with her grandmother, Mother Shaw, who introduces Yolanda to a group of women at her church. Each of these women has a unique life story — and hat, or “crown.” more

March 14, 2018

“I OF THE STORM”: Performances are underway for “I of the Storm.” Directed by Janice L. Goldberg, the play runs through March 18 at Passage Theatre. A homeless ex-convict, who used to be the vice president of a brokerage, shares his life story. (Photo by Michael Abrams)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre is presenting I of the Storm. With this production the company is continuing its series of monologues, Solo Flights. Writer and performer Richard Hoehler’s one-man show previously was presented in 2015, at the Playroom Theater, an off-Broadway venue. Subsequent performances have taken place at the Gym at Judson and the Cape May Stage. more

February 21, 2018

“STOP KISS”: Performances are underway for “Stop Kiss.” Presented by Theatre Intime and directed by Princeton University senior Regina Zeng, the play runs through February 24 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Sara (Rebecca Senatore, left) and Callie (Jessica Li) begin a friendship that develops into a relationship. (Photo by Erica Dugué)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime, whose talented cast and production team consist entirely of Princeton University students, is presenting Stop Kiss. In this drama by Korean-American playwright and screenwriter Diana Son, whose credits include episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, two 20-something women in 1990s New York gradually allow their platonic friendship to become a romantic relationship. more

January 24, 2018

“STONES IN HIS POCKETS”: Performances are underway for “Stones in His Pockets.” Directed by Lindsay Posner, the play runs through February 11 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Irishmen Charlie (Garrett Lombard, left) and Jake (Aaron Monaghan), who are extras on a film, have a conversation in between takes. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Stones in His Pockets is playing at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Written by Belfast-based playwright and performer Marie Jones, whose acting credits include the films In the Name of the Father and Closing the Ring, this 1996 tragicomedy examines a subject that obviously is topical now: abuse of power in the entertainment industry. From its actors the play requires great versatility, which here is delivered in full by Garrett Lombard and Aaron Monaghan. more

December 13, 2017

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Performances are underway for “A Christmas Carol.” Directed by Adam Immerwahr, the play runs through December 31 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Scrooge (Greg Wood, center) joins the company in a celebratory dance. The cast combines professional actors with members of a community ensemble and young ensemble. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is playing at the Matthews Theatre. Adapted by David Thompson and directed by Adam Immerwahr, the show is a warm celebration, both of Christmas and theater. The uniformly talented cast combines professional actors, who are members of Actors’ Equity Association, with nonprofessional performers who comprise a community ensemble (for ages 14 and older) and a young ensemble. more

December 6, 2017

“AN ACT OF GOD”: Performances are underway for George Street Playhouse’s production of “An Act of God.” Directed by David Saint, the comedy runs through December 23. God (Kathleen Turner, center) takes a phone call — and a selfie — with archangels Michael (Stephen DeRosa, left) and Gabriel (Jim Walton, right). (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Film and stage luminary Kathleen Turner is starring in An Act of God at the George Street Playhouse. David Javerbaum, the former executive producer of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and a writer whose theatrical credits include the musicals Cry-Baby and Suburb, adapted the show from his 2011 book The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. more

October 25, 2017

“THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME”: Performances are underway for the Pennington Players’ production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Directed by Frank Ferrara, the musical runs through October 29 at the Kelsey Theatre. Quasimodo (C.J. Carter) sings “Out There,” in which he dreams of venturing into the streets of Paris. (Photo by Kyrus Keenan Photography)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Pennington Players are presenting The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Kelsey Theatre. Because the musical contains adult themes and violence, the theater’s website emphasizes that it is “not recommended for children.” For audiences 13 and older, however, this writer enthusiastically recommends the show. more

October 18, 2017

“A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN”: Performances are underway for “A Night with Janis Joplin.” Written and directed by Randy Johnson, the musical runs through October 29 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Janis Joplin (Kacee Clanton, front and center) gives a high-energy concert, backed by the Joplinaires: Sharon Catherine Brown, left; Amma Osei; Sylvia MacCalla; and Tawny Dolley. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

A Night with Janis Joplin is playing at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Written and directed by Randy Johnson, this raw, high-energy entertainment is a tribute to Joplin and several of the artists who inspired her. Although the show undoubtedly holds special resonance for Joplin’s fans, multi-generational audiences are likely to enjoy this rousing mix of blues, soul, and psychedelic rock.
 more

September 27, 2017

By Anne Levin

After a decade of planning and four years of construction, the studios, rehearsal rooms, and theaters at Princeton University’s ambitious Lewis Center for the Arts have opened on schedule. Music, dance, and drama classes are underway in the three buildings along Alexander Street and University Place, part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit development.

“It’s rare to have a project to work on that is transformative on a performance level and on the programs housed within,” said Noah Yaffe of Steven Holl Architects, during a press tour of the complex on Monday. “What is so fascinating is that we’re maximizing the visibility of the arts while maximizing the porosity of the place.” more

“SIMPATICO”: Performances are underway for A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of “Simpatico.” Directed by ensemble member Dado, the play runs through October 15 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Vinnie (Guy Van Swearingen, left) threatens to sabotage the veneer of respectability that is carefully maintained by his ex-partner Carter (Michael Shannon. (Photo by Richard Termine)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre has opened its season with Sam Shepard’s Simpatico. Asked by The New York Times what makes actors good in their work, the playwright — who died July 27 —responded, “Adventure. An actor who’s willing to jump off the cliff, he’s going to go anywhere.” This production proves Shepard’s point.  more

September 20, 2017

“CHAPTER TWO”: Performances are underway for Pegasus Theatre Project’s production of “Chapter Two.” Directed by Jennifer Nasta Zefutie, the play runs through September 24 at the West Windsor Arts Center. Left to right: Leo Schneider (Frank Falisi, standing) and Faye Medwick (Sarah Stryker, standing) attempt to make — then stall — a match between George Schneider (Peter Bisgaier) and Jennie Malone (Heather Plank). (Photo by John M. Maurer)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Pegasus Theatre Project is presenting Chapter Two at the West Windsor Arts Center. In Neil Simon’s bittersweet romantic comedy, a widowed novelist begins a relationship with a divorced actress. The match is facilitated and encouraged by the novelist’s brother and the actress’s friend.  more

NEW ERA AT PASSAGE: C. Ryanne Domingues has taken over as artistic director at Trenton’s Passage Theatre, replacing June Ballinger, who guided the company for more than two decades in creating and producing socially-relevant new plays and community-devised arts programming.

By Donald Gilpin

Trenton’s Passage Theatre Company has a new artistic director as it prepares for the opening of its fall season.

C. Ryanne Domingues, co-founder and former producing artistic director of Simpatico Theatre in Philadelphia, has taken over the leading role from June Ballinger, who announced last month that she would be stepping down after 22 years at the helm. Ballinger will return to her career as a writer, actor, and teacher, continuing her association with Passage as an artistic advisor for this season and teacher of adult acting classes. more

September 13, 2017

The landmark Hopewell Theater has re-opened after undergoing an extensive eight-month renovation, that includes a new lobby, box office, and concession stand, as well as a state-of-the-art cinema system with surround sound, prep kitchen, and expanded theater seating area and balcony. Now fully refitted as a deluxe showcase for music, cinema and the performing arts, the Hopewell Theater will serve as an intimate arts venue and gathering place for the greater Hopewell Valley area. more

August 30, 2017

FRENCH THEATER FESTIVAL: “Seuls en Scène” French Theater Festival begins with Nicolas Truong’s “Interview,” featuring Judith Henry and Nicolas Bouchaud, on September 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. at the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau Street. (Photo by Mathilde Priolet)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the sixth annual Seuls en Scène French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 15 to 30 at venues across the University’s campus. Some performances will be in English, while others will be in French with English subtitles; all are free and open to the public. more

August 23, 2017

Michael Shannon stars in A Red Orchid Theatre’s “Simpatico” coming to McCarter Theatre, September 8 through October 15, 2017. The tragicomedy explores the slippery netherworld of thoroughbred racing from Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Sam Shepard. For tickets, visit www.mccarter.org or call (609) 258-2787. (Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow)

August 16, 2017

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting Appropriate at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Written by Princeton University alumnus Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (who graduated in 2006), this contemporary drama is an apt conclusion to a season that has examined “whether it is better to look to the past for inspiration or to move in the direction of future progress,” as Princeton Summer Theater’s website states.

In Pippin, the title character comes of age and anticipates his future. The affluent heroine of Spider’s Web is a fantasist whose comfortable, orderly world permits her to live for the present. By contrast, The Crucible presents conflict as ever-present, using a brutal historical event as an allegory for more recent injustice.

Set in the present day, Appropriate develops themes explored by all three of these shows, epitomizing the exploration of tension between generations and eras. Princeton Summer Theater has given audiences a season that can be interpreted as a variation on A Christmas Carol in its interplay between past, present, and future.  more

August 2, 2017

Photo Credit: Julia Peiperl

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting The Crucible at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. This production of Arthur Miller’s 1953 classic is raw, artfully anachronistic, and evokes the spirit of a staged reading. Theatrical excess has been removed, leaving the ritual of performance.

Although The Crucible is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, this production avoids establishing a specific time and place. The set is minimal, and the costumes by Julia Peiperl consist of contemporary clothing. Props are limited to lawn chairs, flashlights, and a cooler that one would use on a picnic. A campfire is at center stage.

On opposite sides of the stage, two women sit at the campfire. The other performers join them as we hear contemporary music and eerie, otherworldly noises synthesized by Sound Designer Joseph Haggerty. An actor opens a script and begins reading the title, stage directions, and opening scene. more

July 19, 2017

“SPIDER’S WEB”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Spider’s Web.” Directed by C. Luke Soucy, the play runs through July 23 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. From left: Jeremy (Peter Giovine), Hugo (Pablo Milla), Sir Rowland (Christopher Damen, seated), Clarissa (Abby Melick), and Miss Peake (Alex Yogelsang) examine a mysterious piece of paper. (Photo by Michelle Navis)

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting Spider’s Web at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Audiences will find much to enjoy in this polished production of Agatha Christie’s comic mystery, which — like Murder on the Orient Express — artfully undercuts thrilling suspense with lively characterization and witty dialogue. more