Monday, May 2, 2016


Premiere Stages will celebrate its 12th year as the professional theatre in residence at Kean University with an intriguing season of plays, all presented professionally for the first time in the Garden State, featuring innovative new alliances and exciting community-based partnerships.

“The power of unlikely friendships in impacting social change is a key component in a line-up that promises to inspire as well as resonate with audiences this season,” stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “The shielding of secrets and the search for redemption are the prevailing themes in these topical and thought-provoking plays we’ll be sharing with New Jersey audiences for the very first time.”

Premiere’s 2016 season kicks off with a free staged reading of Jeff Talbott’s Three Rules for the Dragon (June 17-19; Murphy Dunn Theatre, Vaughn Eames Hall), directed by Wes Grantom, artistic director of New York’s Crowded Outlet. In this provocative and unabashedly theatrical new play, Douglas Barnes is having difficulty balancing his top secret job and his crumbling home life. As he struggles to extract information from a suspected terrorist, he must also try to salvage a marriage that hangs in the balance. Recently named this year’s Runner-Up in the Premiere Stages Play Festival, Three Rules for the Dragon was one of four finalists featured in Premiere’s popular Spring Reading Series in March, and returns for expanded development.

The season continues with the New Jersey Premiere of Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes (July 14-31; Zella Fry Theatre, Vaughn Eames Hall), directed by Kel Haney. In this stirring portrait of redemption and forgiveness, Elliot, an Iraqi War vet, and his cousin Yazmin, a recent divorcee, search for a way out from the shadows.  Odessa, Elliott's estranged mother, has found her escape: a new online family of fellow addicts who she can keep stable and sober each and every day. As the fractured family negotiates the limitations of loyalty, friendship, and community, they also discover acceptance and grace. Water by the Spoonful was the recipient of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Next up is the winner of the 2016 Premiere Stages Play Festival, Las Cruces by Vincent Delaney (September 1-18; Zella Fry Theatre, Vaughn Eames Hall), directed by producing artistic director John J. Wooten. Set in the New Mexico desert, not far from the casinos and the spaceport, Las Cruces tells the story of Sheridan, camped out and hiding in a gutted trailer, and Soledad, the colorful teenage card player he befriends who – like Sheridan – seems to be hiding something. Selected from over 400 submissions to the Festival, the play provides a moving and fascinating exploration of the power of friendship in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

Premiere’s 2016 season concludes with the highly-anticipated full production of the 2015/2016 Liberty Live Commission, Deborah Brevoort’s My Lord, What a Night (October 13-16; 1882 Carriage House, Liberty Hall Museum), directed by Kel Haney. Based on actual events, My Lord, What a Night provides a thought-provoking account of the night legendary singer Marian Anderson spent at the home of Albert Einstein. What begins as an event that threatens to divide the Princeton community ends with a lifetime bond between two of New Jersey's most fascinating people of the 20th century. A unique partnership between Premiere Stages and the Liberty Hall Museum, Liberty Live celebrates New Jersey history with professional theatrical productions, museum tours, interactive displays, workshops for children, and talk-backs with local historians.

TICKETS: $15 - $30, with deep discounts available for season packages, groups, seniors, and students; admission to Three Rules for the Dragon is free.

Premiere Stages also offers a series of free interactive post-show discussions, known as “talk-backs,” after select matinee performances. To purchase tickets or inquire about season packages, please call the box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or visit If you’d like more information on Premiere’s season programming or talk-back schedule and speakers, please call Premiere’s administrative offices at 908-737-4092 or email

In addition to its mainstage season, Premiere Stages will again collaborate with other professional theatres in the area to present dynamic theatre programming exclusively for children, with performances open to the public as well as school and camp groups. This season’s Play Factory Performance Series for young audiences will include Yates Musical Theatre's Sleeping Beauty (July 13 at 10:30 am; Wilkins Theatre), Pushcart Players’ Peter and the Wolf (July 27 at 10:30 am; Wilkins Theatre), and Yates Musical Theatre's Pinocchio (August 3 at 10:30 am; Wilkins Theatre). The recommended age for all three productions is 3 – 10. For group sales or more information, please contact Heather Kelley, director of audience services, at 908-737-4077 or

Limited slots are also available for Camp Premiere, Premiere Stages’ innovative summer program for young aspiring theatre artists. Session I is a performance and playwriting camp for students entering Grades 6-8 (July 18-29), and Session II is an acting camp for Grades 9-12 (July 25–August 5). Camp Premiere is dedicated to fostering a creative and nurturing environment for young theatre artists of all experience levels, and both sessions will culminate in a public showcase performance. Tuition is $295, and must be paid in full by July 1. For more information, please contact producing associate Courtney Little at 908-737-4092 or  

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities, and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advanced notice. Please call 908-737-4092 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, visit Premiere Stages online at

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, Union County HEART Grants, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival and through the generous support of individual patrons. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.