Give the Gift of Theater in 2023!

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State Ttheatre in New Brunswick marque entrance
State Ttheatre in New Brunswick marque entrance

Looking for that perfect one-of-a-kind gift for the holidays? I’ve always thought the best kind of gift is the one that creates memories. And the best of those gifts is tickets to a live theatrical performance, especially at one of the fine theaters in the state!

The following is a list of productions from December of 2022 through mid-2023. If you find you can’t decide which one to see, indulge yourself and get tickets to multiple shows, or even a season subscription!

At New Jersey’s venerable Paper Mill Playhouse, the Millburn hills will be alive with The Sound of Music, playing December 2nd through January 1st. This will be followed by Disney’s Hercules (February 16th through March 19th), and Ken Ludwig’s stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (April 12th through May 7th). Paper Mill’s season ends with the hit Broadway musical Rent, from May 31st through June 25th.  papermill.org 

McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton kicks off the holiday season with its perennial favorite, A Christmas Carol, running between December 7th and December 24th. This is followed by Between Two Knees (January 31st to February 12th), written by the 1491s, a comedy writing/performing group made up of Native Americans, and then a stage adaptation of the classic romance Wuthering Heights (February 23rd to March 12th). The season finale is Blues for an Alabama Sky (May 6th to May 28th), about a chosen family in Depression-era Harlem which is upended by the arrival of a stranger from the South. mccarter.org

Red Bank’s Two River Theater starts the new year with Living & Breathing (January 28th to February 26th), a play exploring questions of commodification, stereotypes, and complacency. This is followed by a modern verse translation of Romeo + Juliet (April 8th to April 30th). tworivertheater.org

The George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick offers a world premiere musical, Joy (December 7th through December 30th), based on the true story of inventor/entrepreneur Joy Mangano.  Heading into the new year, the next offering is the recent Broadway play Clyde’s (January 31st through February 19th), followed by the hit musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (March 14th through April 9th).  The season ends with another world premiere, Tales from the Guttenberg Bible (April 25th through May 21st), starring actor/comedian Steve Guttenberg. georgestreetplayhouse.org

Also in New Brunswick, the Crossroads Theatre Company presents the recent Broadway comedy Chicken & Biscuits (December 21st – December 31st) for the holiday season.  This is followed in the spring by the Genesis Festival 2023 (April 15th – April 23rd), a series of short plays by new artists; Starchild: The Ballad of Debbie Walker (May 24th – June 4th), an autobiographical piece by Divinity Roxx; and The Legacy of Jazz (May 31st – June 11th), a three-part celebration of jazz divas Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, and Billie Holiday, starting with a limited run of the Broadway hit Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. crossroadstheatrecompany.org

Luna Stage in West Orange has three upcoming works in the new year. The first is Torn Asunder (February 2nd through February 26th), a dramatization of true stories about recently emancipated slaves, set in and around Prince Georges County, MD in 1860. This is followed by The Underground History Project (March 20th through April 23rd), the first in a five-year series of works dealing with the history of the Underground Railroad in Essex County, NJ. Luna’s final offering of the season is the world premiere of Two Elizas (May 6th through May 15th), an exploration of women’s rights, motherhood, and loss. lunastage.org

The never-disappointing New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch is presenting the comedy Welcome to Popcorn Falls from January 2nd through February 5th. This is followed by The Rosenberg/Strange Fruit Project from March 9th through April 2nd; Our Shrinking, Shrinking World, a world-premiere comedy running May 4th through May 28th; and A Tailor Near Me, another world-premiere comedy written by Michael Tucker, from July 27th through August 27t. www.njrep.org

The relatively new Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Lake presents an ambitious lineup of musicals in the new year. First up is Raisin, the musical version of Lorraine Hansbury’s play A Raisin in the Sun (February 24th to March 12th). This is followed by The Prom (May 5th to May 21st). The season ends with the Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George (November 3rd to November 19th). axelrodartscenter.com

Finally, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is presented by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison from December 7th to January 1st. www.shakespearenj.org

Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first live play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. He works in the box office at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.