New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

New Jersey State Council on the Arts Names Allison Tratner as Executive Director Click here for the story!

REVIEW: Las Cruces at Premiere Stages

By Gary Wien

originally published: 09/04/2016

REVIEW: Las Cruces at Premiere Stages

“Do you think we were bad parents? Was it him or us?”

When Las Cruces opens, you don’t know why a man is breaking into an old camping trailer set in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night, but your mind certainly imagines several scenarios.  People don’t simply rent trailers in the middle of the desert - much less break into them.  As the play evolves, the mystery unfolds.  He is a man separated from his wife who carries a great amount of pain and guilt.  In essence, he is a man trying to escape a parent’s worst nightmare.

The play begins with a video playing on side of the trailer.  It is a home movie showing a young boy.  Everything seems peaceful with gentle music accompaniment. The movie ends and the set goes dark.  And then comes one of the most realistic opening scenes you’ll ever see in the theatre.  Sheridan enters with a flashlight.  Thanks to a rather expansive stage, Premiere was able to create a set with a mountain cliff on one side and an actual decrepit camping trailer in the center.  The expansiveness of the stage gives a level of depth that few shows in an intimate theatre like this can provide.  When Sheridan shines his flashlight through the area, you feel as though you are right there with him in the desert darkness.  It’s a feeling similar to being on a movie set and watching the action take place in front of you.  Sheridan, who has a resemblance to Harrison Ford, is forced to break into the trailer.  When he does, a teenager named Soledad appears.  Apparently Sheridan was attempting to break into her home. Sheridan explains that he’s not a thief, he rented the trailer.

“You rented this?” she said with a puzzled look.

“I know I should have shopped more online,” replied Sheridan.  “The web doesn’t do this place justice.”

The play does a wonderful job of mixing home movies along with flashback scenes of his wife and sounds from the Spaceport up the road, which tests their engines every now and then.  The first boom causes the entire theatre to shake.

The article continues after this ad


“This was not on the website!” Sheridan exclaimed.

“I hope your rent is cheap,” said Soledad.

“It’s not, they’re ripping me off.”

We learn that he’s from Connecticut and that he appears afraid to get close to anybody.  Soledad is great at gambling (there’s a casino nearby as well). Despite lies from them both, the two develop a friendship.

Lies and deception are major themes in this play.  The playwright, Vincent Delaney, skillfully utilizes poker as a metaphor for life. At one level, the poker games are about simple deception; at another, it’s about playing the hand you are dealt in life.  That’s what Sheridan and Soledad are trying to do.  Both are trying to escape from dark secrets they are hiding from each other. 

REVIEW: Las Cruces at Premiere Stages

Soledad takes him to the casino and the two return with a big payload.  “They think you have Gringo Power,” she tells him, hoping to make this a regular habit.  But Sheridan doesn’t like the idea of gambling. 

“It’s not wholesome,” he says.

“It’s poker,” she replies.

The two tell each other lie after lie, but Sheridan’s secrets become clearer when Jane (his wife) appears.  She tracked him down and wants to bring him back home.  She carries the same weight of guilt as Sheridan does.  Maybe even more.

“Do you think we were bad parents?” Jane asks Sheridan. “Was it him or us?”

“We loved him,” Sheridan replies.

“Should we have?”

Guilt over their son destroyed their marriage, yet the shame they both share is something they cannot deny.  They need to be together, but are just as lost as Soledad is.  They find something about themselves — and seek redemption — out in the dark, mysterious New Mexico desert. It's a very funny, powerful play about an extremely painful topic.  There is little more that can be said without giving away the mystery and it’s one you should experience for yourself.

REVIEW: Las Cruces at Premiere Stages

Presented by Premiere Stages at Kean University now through September 18,  Las Cruces was the winner of the 2016 Premiere Stages Play Festival with the prize being a mainstage production.  And Premiere has certainly delivered.

Directed by John J. Wooten (the Producing Artistic Director at Premiere Stages), Las Cruces features a spectacular cast. Led by two experienced Broadway actors, Brian Sutherland is superb as a man attempting to escape his past, and Charlotte Cohn shows plenty of depth in her portrayal of Jane, a woman struggling to cope with a situation she could never have imagined. Meanwhile, New York based actress Diomargy Nuñez is terrific as Soledad — a spunky, sassy teenager who acts older than her years yet struggles with the needs of a child at the same time. Not to be outdone, Connor McKenna (a sophomore in the theatre program at Kean) is simply brilliant as Robbie — the son shown in the home movies.  His character has the most amazing arc of them all and his story ties the play together.

Vincent Delaney has crafted a truly amazing work that takes a deep look at a problem which comes straight out of today’s headlines.  The playwright has been awarded the Heideman from Actors Theatre of Louisville, McKnight and Bush fellowships, a Jerome Commission, the Reva Shiner Comedy Award, Core Membership at the Playwrights Centre, and a residency at Seattle Rep.  And it’s easy to see why.  His dialogue flows and is engaging; his character development is outstanding; and the play is a well crafted mystery that moves smoothly.

Las Cruces is presented straight through without an intermission. Special credit goes out to Patrick Rizzotti (Scenic Design), Brant Thomas Murray (Lighting Designer), and Janie Bullard (Sound Design) for creating a very unique world on stage.

Las Cruces is very highly recommended.  The run is limited, so get your tickets now! For more information visit Premiere's website

Photos by Mike Peters.

This was my first trip to Premiere Stages and I have to point out the wonderful restaurant located on campus as well — basically across the street from the theatre - Enoteca Ursino. It is part of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group which has several restaurants in Princeton (Eno Terra, Mediterra, TeresaCaffe, and the Terra Momo Bread Company).  As with those establishments, Enoteca Ursino has excellent food and an extensive wine list.  



For more by this author, click here

Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.

Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!

Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.