‘Shakespeare in Love’ joins Moliere, Joe Orton on NJ Festival stage 2017 season

The stage version of the 1998 Oscar-winning (7) film “Shakespeare in Love” will be staged for the first time in the northeast region of the USA this fall as part of the 55th season of the New Jersey Shakespeare Theatre. Zounds!

Longtime artistic director Bonnie Monte will direct. The NJST plans to  transform its 308-seat theater into an Elizabethan playhouse.  Sounds good to me. A non-profit NJ regional theater with a small house gets dibs on what I think is a “get.” Only two other American theaters so far have it booked this year. Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard,  productions are being done in repertory at the Utah Shakespeare Festival (June 30 – Sept. 8) and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Feb. 18 – Oct. 29). The show begins previews Oct. 11 in New Jersey.

The original production was stage on the West End by Disney Theatrical Productions & Sonia Friedman Productions. Lee Hall adapted the stage play from Marc Norman’s and Tom Stoppard’s screenplay. The story follows William Shakespeare in his prime as he struggles to find the words to “Romeo and Juliet.”

“Shakespeare in Love” was part of Ontario’s 2016 Stratford Festival. Declan Donnellan directed the production, which had Broadway in its site. No dates or casting have been announced so far.

“I am utterly thrilled to be directing this grand, exuberant love-letter to Shakespeare. The film remains one of my all-time favorite movies, and it’s sublime kismet that it’s landed in our hands as next season’s fall centerpiece production,” Monte said.

“I have a special feeling about this season. I feel like we’ve come up with a splendid mix of shows that will appeal to all people of all ages — fun, funny, thought-provoking, moving, comforting, inspiring, and all offer sublime theatrical adventures that will transport and delight our audience,” said Monte.

The May and to December season features five productions at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, Madison, and one summer production on The Outdoor Stage –a Greek amphitheater at The College of Saint Elizabeth, Florham Park. Special events include the  “Lend Us Your Ears” series; one-night-only events “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Something Merry This Way Comes,” and the debut of “Something Lucky This Way Comes” on St. Patrick’s Day.

Subscriptions now available. Discount packages go on sale in March. Also debuting in March, the new Membership to The Shakespeare Theatre for $45 deal. It enables you buy any seat in the house for any show for $40. No limit on purchases.

Single tickets go on sale  March 27. The 30 Under 30 program — $30 tickets for people age 30 and younger — is returning . Also children age18 and younger get free tickets to the Outdoor Stage. For more information, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or call 973-408-5600.

Student matinees for schools are available for “The Merchant of Venice,” “Shakespeare in Love” and “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” (full-length version). For more information, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org/Education.

The 55th season launches with Shakespeare’s dark comedic “The Merchant of Venice.” The Theatre has not produced this play in 17 years.

“Never has there been a better time than now to present this 400 year-old-play,” Monte said, “It mirrors our current society so closely in so many ways that one could imagine it was penned just yesterday.” “The Merchant of Venice” will begin performances on May 17.

Screen grab of Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey.Here’s the season:


By William Shakespeare
Previews begin May 17

Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre 17 years ago, there has not been a more perfect time to present Shakespeare’s dark comedic masterwork.


On the Outdoor Stage:


By William Shakespeare
Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
Previews begin June 14

Shakespeare’s beloved and most popular comedy is presented in a brand new way; this production will feature a set and costumes made largely with items that would normally end up in a landfill but will instead be transformed into beautiful and magic creations.


By Molière
Translated by Richard Wilbur
Directed by Brian B. Crowe
Previews begin July 5

The Bungler, Molière’s rarely produced comedy, tells the tale of a hopelessly inept young man who has fallen in love with a gypsy girl. He employs his wily servant to help him win her hand in marriage. Each clever plan from the servant is inevitably bungled by his clueless master.


By Joe Orton

Directed by Paul Mullins
Previews begin September 6

This production marks the first Joe Orton play produced at The Shakespeare Theatre during Ms. Monte’s tenure. The farce speaks to the world today, as the fragile nature of “truth” is explored in a hilarious and provocative manner. Audiences should be warned that this play from 1969 was considered scandalous at the time it was first presented, and it does feature partial nudity. It is not appropriate for children.


Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard
Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall
Music by Paddy Cunneen
Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
Previews begin October 11

This marks the first professional production of the stage adaptation of the Academy-Award winning film in the Northeast region. Based on the Oscar winning film, the story follows William Shakespeare in his prime as he struggles to find the words to his greatest works and win his true love.


Adapted by Joe Landry
Directed by Doug West
Previews begin November 30

The stage adaptation of the popular film was an audience favorite when presented as last year’s Something Merry This Way Comes. This holiday classic will feature the beloved characters that have become so familiar from the 1946 film.