Head down the turnpike to Jersey and beyond for top-notch way-off Broadway theater
- Last Updated: 12:38 AM, June 6, 2012
- Posted: 10:32 PM, May 31, 2012
It’s hard to believe, considering the amount of publicity they’ve gotten, but New Jersey is not just Snooki and her GTL routine. (For those unfamiliar with MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” that’s gym, tan and laundry.) You can have a quiet time at the Shore, and even catch some theater. In fact, the Garden State offers a nice range of stage options this summer. Dive in!
Broadway bonus in Pennsylvania
The Bucks County Playhouse is technically in Pennsylvania, but it’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the Delaware River from Lambertville, NJ. First opened in 1939 in an old grist mill, the theater has hosted a glittering array of stars over the years. After an extensive renovation, the venue is reopening with the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue “A Grand Night for Singing,” directed by Lonny Price (July 2 to 22). From Aug. 7 to 26, Sheryl Kaller (Broadway’s “Next Fall”) directs a revival of Neil Simon’s classic “Barefoot in the Park.”
Best of all, some of the performers will moonlight in cabaret concerts from July 19 to 21 (hosted by playwright Christopher Durang) and Aug. 16 to 18.
The Bucks County Playhouse (70 S. Main St., New Hope, Pa.; 215-315-7788; bcptheater.org) is a 90-minute drive from NYC. Tickets are $25 to $54 for the shows, and $25 to $30 for the cabaret series.
“Once on This Island” in Millburn, NJ
The Paper Mill Playhouse has made its name in recent years with top-notch productions of musicals. It was after last year’s Paper Mill run got great notices that the producers of “Newsies” decided to send it to Broadway.
Though the Paper Mill is quiet for most of the summer, you still have time to catch the revival of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Caribbean-flavored “Once on This Island.” Directed by Thomas Kail (“In the Heights,” “Magic/Bird”), the show runs through June 24.
The Paper Mill (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn; 973-376-4343; papermill.org) is a mere 25-mile drive from Manhattan, and a 45-minute train ride on New Jersey Transit (to the Millburn station). Tickets are $25 to $92.
The Bard and more at Drew University
Summer’s a great time to freshen up on the Bard. And for that, the destination is the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, an independent outfit in residence at Drew University. The season starts off with “Henry IV, Part One” (through June 24), and continues with “Measure for Measure” (Aug. 8 to 26). But it’s not all Shakespeare, all the time: David Ives’ adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 1644 comedy “The Liar” plays July 4 to 29.
STNJ also runs a 400-capacity, grass-and-stone al fresco venue a few miles away, on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth. This summer’s presentation is Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” (June 20 to July 29).
STNJ’s main venue (36 Madison Ave., Madison; 973-408-5600; shakespearenj.org) is a 45-minute drive from Midtown; the nearest New Jersey Transit station is Madison. The outdoor stage is 15 minutes away at 2 Convent Road, Convent Station; the NJ Transit station is Convent. Tickets are $23.50 to $48.
Contemplate contemporary and cabaret in Cape May
Cape May Stage is located at a seaside resort, but a cozy, Victorian one that goes for tea and crumpets rather than burgers and shakes. The theater is housed in an 1853 building that started off as a church. The city turned it into an equity theater in 1993.
CMS is the place to go for contemporary plays. The season includes Dominic Hoffman’s “Uncle Jacques’ Symphony” (through June 15), about a jazz musician; Yasmina Reza’s comedy “God of Carnage” (June 20 to Aug. 3); and Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” (Aug. 8 to Sept. 7). CMS also presents a Broadway series, with cabaret performances by the likes of Adam Rapp (July 2), Faith Prince (July 23), and Andrea Marcovicci (Aug. 13).
Best reached by car, drive to the end of the Garden State Parkway. CMS is at 405 Lafayette St.; 609-884-1341; capemaystage.com. $15 to $35 for the plays, and $50 for the Broadway series.
The beach is alive with the sound of music on LBI
If your vacation bag includes both suntan lotion and cast albums, head straight for Beach Haven’s 52-year-old Surflight Theatre, on Long Beach Island. First out of the gate is the Andrew Lloyd Webber revue “All I Ask of You” (through June 16). If you need a refresher before ‘‘Annie” hits Broadway again in the fall, catch it between June 19 and July 21. “The Sound of Music” follows from July 24 to Aug. 25. Bringing up the rear is “Once Upon a Time in New Jersey” (Aug. 28 to Sept. 16), a 2003 tribute to the Garden State that’s set in Hoboken in 1956. After the performance, walk a block to the Show Place (204 Centre St., 609-492-0018) for one of its Broadway sundaes.
Forget about public transportation: The best way to get to the Surflight (201 Engleside Ave., Beach Haven; 609-492-9477; surflight.org) is by car. It’s about 110 miles from Midtown, but factor in at least 2½ hours in summer traffic. Tickets are $36 to $54.