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Robert and Joan Rechnitz founded Two River Theater, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Their vision was “to produce exceptional professional theater, and to inspire young people and life-long learners as a center for education,” according to Managing Director Michael Hurst. The opening night performance of The Belle of Amherst was a fine example of their success. William Luce’s 1976 Two-Act play about beloved American poet Emily Dickinson was a two-hour glimpse of more than just poetry. And under the direction of Robert Rechnitz, actress Maureen Silliman carried this one-woman show with grace and liveliness.... READ ON

Historical events always consist of much more than is on the surface. No matter how complex the public image of the event—the civil rights movement of the 1960s, say—the image is incomplete without the stories of countless individuals who contributed to the event and were affected by it. This reality underlies Jiréh Breon Holder’s play “Too Heavy for Your Pocket” which will be presented at the George Street Playhouse April 23 through May 19.... READ ON

I have seen many musicals at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, Northern Jersey’s salute to Broadway theater.  Each one has been on an entertainment arc between spectacle and spectacular.  When a play’s content is average, the music, singing, dancing, sets and choreography push it to spectacle.  When a play’s storyline flows, then all the elements are there and we have spectacular.... READ ON

The one word that best describes Heartland, currently at the Luna Stage in West Orange to May 5, is ambitious.  Its numerous themes are carried valiantly on the shoulders of three excellent actors.  Brian Corrigan is Harold, an aging professor of English formerly part of the American war effort in Afghanistan and now living in Omaha, Nebraska.  Lipica Shah is Getee, the Afghani daughter Harold adopted when she was a child, who tries to acknowledge her heritage by teaching English in an Afghani village.  Kareem Badr is Nazurllah, a mathematics teacher who meets Getee at the village, becomes romantically involved with her, then visits Harold in Omaha.... READ ON

In 1993, the movie “Benny & Joon” made its way to theaters. Starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson, the movie was well received. It continues to attract audiences through steaming services like Amazon Prime. According to the movie’s page on Rotten Tomatoes, it is about “Benny who runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon. After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam, the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton routines . . . Not surprisingly, he immediately hits it off with Joon. . . . ”... READ ON

“Our entire season is exploring this idea of how we have conversations across cultural divides, which I feel is one of those fundamental things that we need to explore as a culture right now,” explained Ari Laura Kreith, who has been the Artistic Director at Luna Stage in West Orange since February 2018. She’s discussing the theatre’s latest work, the regional premiere of “Heartland” by Gabriel Jason Dean, which runs from April 4th to May 5th.... READ ON

Michael Rosenberg talks about his first year and what Emily Mann’s retirement means for the company.... READ ON

​​​​​​​Rhonda Musak is an actress and writer with an interesting autobiographical show entitled Rhonda Badonda: The Adventures of a Girl with a Pain in Her Brain.  In this show, her character (Rhonda Badonda) wants to function normally, but her brain has other ideas.... READ ON

A young woman calls on the gods of Ancient Greece to save her love life—but it’s not the gods of love who show up to help. Ken Ludwig is back at McCarter Theatre with “The Gods of Comedy,” a hilariously divine new play filled with madcap mayhem, a touch of romance, and lots of laughs. Join Jesse and Dave in Princeton to hear from the master of farce himself.... READ ON

Mention of the immigration of the early 20th century evokes images of the “wretched refuse” floating into New York Harbor and washing up on Ellis Island. But not all of “your tired, your poor” landed in New York, and we learn about one of the exceptions in Mark Harelik’s play “The Immigrant,” on stage at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick from March 12 through April 7.... READ ON

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