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Kean Stage
Kean University


"Heartfelt... [a] sincere and steadfast piece of theater." - Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

"Directed by John J. Wooten, this powerful tale of belonging, seeking a new life and experiencing troubled times comes to vivid life. Written by Keith Josef Adkins, the play deals with issues of eminent domain, the loss of place and the need to start anew. The cast is superb." - Liz Keill, TapInto.net 

"Though The People Before the Park is set in 1856, you won't have to work hard to find parallels to the politics of today... Adkins... resists the urge to be preachy about the injustices in Stephen's story; he just lets the action unfold. And he gives the secondary characters complexities of their own." - Jay Lustig, NJArts.net

"The People Before the Park will not fail to move you to the plight of a people who have played by the rules only to find them changed by a corrupt government. Although Central Park plays an important role in the quality of life for the city's citizens, those who see this play will never regard that great green space in the same way ever again. That's not a bad thing, for the good of the majority often comes at the expense of the few. And that's an important point to remember." - Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

"Informative and absorbing... What... provides grace and gravity, is the strength of spirit and the claim for dignity and self-worth in the faces and the dialogue of the play's impassioned characters." - Simon Saltzman, Curtain Up

BY THE WATER (July 2015):
"This 90-minute story...might suggest an Arthur Miller-like tragedy in the making. Instead, Ms. Rothstein offers a sympathetic study of people who must start over." - Michael Sommers, The New York Times

"...Marvelous performances from a top-notch cast and a riveting script make By the Water a poignant piece of theater." - Jonathan Edmondson, The Star-Ledger

"This well-acted, gripping drama...is a heart-breaking look at a major problem faced by all communities nearly or totally wiped out by such a superstorm." - Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven 

"The family’s battered home - and some of the challenges the family faces...add an extra level of poignancy for those who suffered at the time, or are still suffering." - Jay Lustig, NJArts.net

"There is something powerful about seeing what you have been through on stage - to know that you and your struggles have not been forgotten." - Gary Wien, New Jersey Stage 

"The quality of the acting in that venue is the same exciting, substantial, first-rate production that Premiere Stages always presents." - Susan Myrill Dougherty, The Westfield Leader

JANICE UNDERWATER (September 2014):
"Wolfe's play tackles a topical, potentially intriguing subject of how to rebuild a life when one feels submerged by challenges. Jade King Carroll directs a cohesive, smoothly paced and imaginative production." - Ronni Reich, Star-Ledger

"An absorbing play that... provides some provocative insights into the way we cope with mental illness." - Simon Saltzman, Curtain Up

"Plenty of hardy laughs at the top of the show, yet the seriousness of the material reveals multi-layers of harsh reality of daily life." - Susan Dougherty, The Westfield Leader

"A challenging, yet, fascinating study of a dysfunctional family... nicely directed by Jade King Carroll and blessed with an impressive group of actors." - Rick Busciglio, NJ Footlights

"Casts its own haunting spell" - Liz Keill, The Alternative Press

"The dialogue is natural and often clever, and the New Jersey references are spot-on..." - Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

SOLDIER'S HEART (July 2014):
"Portrayals of soldiers wrecked by war date to the ancient Greeks (see Aeschylus), but Ms. Ryan adeptly reworks the time-tested recipe from a woman's perspective to make it seem fresh again." - Michael Sommers, The New York Times

"An intense drama that grabs you from the first scene and doesn't let go until the lights go down" - Rick Busciglio, Examiner.com

"Soldier's Heart... brings a searing story to life about the high cost of war, especially when a young woman goes off to Iraq to fight for her country... a disturbing, topical production, building on the terror and sacrifices that never-ending wars entail." - Liz Keill, The Alternative Press

"Once again, Tammy Ryan and Premiere Stages have given us a play with topical significance and much to think about... Best of all, she has given the audience a story with a strong dramatic arc, acted by a very talented company, on an important subject with which we must deal decisively, now." - Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

"Ryan brings a heart-wrenching experience into alignment with the blisteringly traumatic aftershock of rape as it applies to a thirty year-old Sergeant in the Marines Casey Johnson (Mairin Lee)... Lee's performance reveals her dramatic range as it also tears at our emotions. The journey she makes from her I've-got-it-all-together-and-worked-out place at the beginning to someone at the brink of no-return is a terrible one but also completely credible." - Simon Saltzman, Curtain Up

THE BEAUTIFUL DARK (September 2013):
"The Beautiful Dark won Premiere Stages’ 2013 Play Festival, over 400 or so other submissions, and it is deserving… John Wooten, Premiere Stages’ producing artistic director, has guided his actors with panache."
— Anita Gates, The New York Times

"A cautionary and dramatically explosive exploration of a frightening and difficult societal phenomenon" that "could become a widely produced, influential play."
— Bob Rendell, Talkin' Broadway

"[The Beautiful Dark] is simultaneously beautiful and dark... involv[ing] stellar acting, a frustratingly real storyline and terrific direction."
— Susan Dougherty, The Westfield Leader

"This year, they hit the jackpot. The Beautiful Dark is a dark play, a beautiful play, a topical play - the work of a passionate and talented playwright and a worthy production for the esteemed Premiere Stages to present."
— Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

"Premiere Stages has produced another humdinger with The Beautiful Dark by Erik Gernand, an engrossing, well-written new play."
— Simon Saltzman, Curtain Up

"An outstanding play with an excellent cast and a haunting story... an impressive production."
— Rick Busciglio, New Jersey Footlights

"This is a thought-provoking production, with much to say about the way we deal with
those we love."
— Liz Keill, The Alternative Press

"...an exploration of when to allow someone to maintain personal freedom and when they become a threat to others. Where is that line? Starting that conversation may be the most valuable takeaway from the production."
— Ronni Reich, The Star-Ledger

"Poignant" and "bitingly comical… Wes Grantom, the director, has staged this New Jersey premiere with a steady hand and a capable company of seven actors."
— Michael Sommers, The New York Times

"Deftly orchestrated," featuring a "strong ensemble cast."
— Ronni Reich, The Star-Ledger

"I did not see Clybourne Park on Broadway, but I doubt that award-winning performance was one iota better than the polished, riveting production now making its New Jersey premiere."
— Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

FARRAGUT NORTH (September 2012):
"The air of the intimate Zella Fry Theatre fairly crackled with snappy dialogue… Farragut North is just the theatrical ticket."
— Ruth Ross, NJ Arts Maven

"Farragut North is an excellent compelling drama, well directed and features a superior cast;
this is a four star event. The most common word from fellow theatergoers as we exited was ‘Wonderful.’ Once again we thrilled to the realization that theater is alive and well in New Jersey."
— Rick Busciglio, Examiner.com

"If you want to see the fireworks that happen behind the scenes on the fictional road to the White House then venture out to Premiere Stages' latest play offering Farragut North... Great theatre."
— Susan Dougherty, The Westfield Leader

"Entertaining... A very well acted account... which briskly unfolds in two acts and over two snowy days during an Iowa caucus campaign in 2008."
— Michael Sommers, The New York Times

"Perfectly timed for this fall's elections, Premiere Stages' Farragut North is energetic, engrossing and informative."
— Bob Rendell, Talkin' Broadway

"The Premiere Stages production is the best work that I yet have seen from this ambitious, socially conscious theatre...The most entertaining new play seen in New Jersey this season."
— Bob Rendell, Talkin' Broadway

"Civility Breaking Down? Let the Cocktails Flow... Good acting... effectively staged... intriguing."
— Michael Sommers, The New York Times

"The team of Grant and Wooten is a winning one presenting a play that tells us to listen for music that others do not hear and dance when the world says you can’t."
— Susan Dougherty, The Westfield Leader

"You will be rewarded with an engrossing drama... heartbreakingly honest... marvelous… Having admired Grant’s previous play, The Good Counselor... I am again impressed with her gift for weaving deeply interpersonal problems through unsettling and contentious social issues. If there is always something new to reveal about the embittered family member who has sacrificed and relinquished everything in the care of one in need, then Grant has revealed it with a passion."
— Simon Saltzman, CurtainUp

HANNAH (September 2011):
"So powerful a drama that, from the beginning to its conclusion, Sunday afternoon's audience seemed stunned and pinned to their seats, reluctant to leave."
— Worrall Newspapers

"Impressive Portrait…Hannah is a model for all of us."
— NJ Arts Maven

"Dramatically compelling…Hannah can not help but remind us how so often in the midst of the most horrific events and times, there will be those who will step up and perform the kind of incredible acts of courage that will inspire a nation."
— Curtain Up

"A fine example of historical fiction…enlightening, educational and entertaining."
— The Westfield Leader

"Inspirational..."Hannah" is a compact 90-minute work that effectively sketches the biographical outlines of a heroine."
— The New York Times

"One of the most poignant moments that the New Jersey stage has seen in some time…He's (John Wooten) able to show how this era in European history dehumanized most everyone, because most everyone was suspected and very few were trusted."
— The Star Ledger

"The centerpiece of Joseph Gourely's set is a jukebox out of which sweet music plays.
The real music, however, comes from Dominique Morisseau's words."
— The Star Ledger

"…You may forget you are watching actors… Morisseau displays great skill and insight in the dialogue which provides the basis for such a high level of performance in scenes which engage our interest, as only superior playwriting can… "
— Talkin' Broadway

"A stunning representation... exceptional... outstanding... unforgettable."
Union County Local Source

"Dominique Morisseau's searing look at this tense and momentous period in our nation's history, Follow Me to Nellie's... is a first-rate production... with some of the finest actors delivering some of the most natural sounding dialogue I've heard on a stage this year..."
— New Jersey Arts Maven

"Ms. Morisseau transports the audience to a bleak time in history for African Americans… Fine characterization… overflows with ambiguity and pathos… Captures the flavor of the 1950s south and the despair of being black in a 'whites only' world… powerful theatre with characters you will care about…"
— Westfield Leader

"Endearing...intriguing...remarkably touching."
— The New York Times

"You'll lose your heart to this show."
— The Star Ledger

"This is a serious, uplifting drama with beautiful writing and incredible acting."
— The Westfield Leader

"Marvelous...powerful...an experience one will not forget for a long while...See it before it leaves the Zella Fry Theatre at Kean."
— The Local Source

"The entire cast is truly outstanding...[Kim] Zimmer, who lives in Montclair, should be declared a New Jersey treasure. Watch this talented woman demonstrate the art of acting."
— Examiner.com

"The most extraordinary experience in my 15-year reviewing career...magnificent."
— Essex Journal

"See. This. Play."
— Qonstage.com

"The Good Counselor is worth the trip to the Kean University campus."
— Worrall Papers

"Riveting performance... excellent characterization... fascinating."
— The Star-Ledger

"Erik LaRay Harvey is magnificent as Ray.... Susan Louise O'Connor...really nails the character of Evelyn Laverty. Her performance will break your heart."
— Worrall Papers

"Moving…Impressive…Excellent and evocative."
— The New York Times

DUCK CROSSING (July 2009):
— The Westfield Leader

"Wooten makes [the historical characters] into human beings with hopes and fears, doubts, ambitions, and real feelings."
— The Essex Journal

"Admirable...very satisfying."
— The New York Times

"Whether fact or fiction, Duck Crossing is not only about the "what if" of history, but also inspiration, courage and leadership. The audience is better for catching Mr. Wooten's glimpse of it."
— The Westfield Leader

ANY OTHER NAME (September 2009):
"Gripping and engrossing….Any Other Name was selected for production from over 300 submissions, and it is easy to see why."
— The Westfield Leader

"Ably directed by John Wooten, this is the world premiere of Mr. Brant's drama, which won the 2009 Premiere Stages Play Festival. It's clear why it was honored. The play is intelligent, cynical, disturbing and easy for 21st-century theatergoers to relate to."
— The New York Times

"Mesmerizing…Be prepared to be entranced by superior acting and insightful direction of this ingenious new play."
— The Westfield Leader

"The play is performed by such stellar acting that the audience is kept on the edge of its collective seat just to see how the puzzle plays out."
— The Essex Journal

RABBIT HOLE (September 2008)
"Perfect casting, superb acting and stellar directing make this a production that will be long remembered."
— The Westfield Leader

"The Premiere Stages production of Rabbit Hole is seen to better advantage here than in its New York home."
— The Star Ledger

MADISON (July 2008)
"An always witty and often hilarious comedy…Madison deserves a bright future."
— The Star Ledger

"Madison tells the story with grace and emotion…a comic delight."
— Home News Tribune

Other Quotes:
"Patrons who have been longing for an eclectic mix of arts and style will find themselves satisfied by Premiere Stages' offerings."
— Worrall Newspapers

"We often cite the partnership between Premiere Stages and Kean University as a model of the ways in which a university and professional theatre can work together for the benefit of all."
— Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

"An always witty and often hilarious comedy...Madison deserves a bright future."
— The Newark Star-Ledger

"Madison tells the story with grace, emotion...a comic delight."
— Home News Tribune

"Rabbit Hole [offers] an example of how, when approached properly, professional theatre companies' relationships with universities can benefit both."
— The New York Times

"Perfect casting, superb acting and stellar directing make this [Rabbit Hole] a production that will long be remembered."
— The Westfield Leader

"The Premiere Stages production [of Rabbit Hole] is seen to better advantage here than in its New York home... a top notch cast. Sue Cremin is astonishing as Becca."
— The Newark Star-Ledger

"In directing this sensitive piece [Rabbit Hole], Mr. Wooten has found a gentle tone that nonetheless firmly supports its central truth."
— The New York Times

"It can't get much better than this."
— Talkin' Broadway