Category Archives: Shakespeare Theatre of NJ

‘What the Butler Saw’ begins tonight at NJ Shakespeare Fest

I can’t believe that Joe Orton’s last play, the once controversial farce “What The Butler Saw,” is his first work ever to be produced by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Performances begin tonight in Madison, N.J.
I would have sworn I’d seen an Orton work there … wait a minute. I’m thinking of Orton’s “Loot, staged at McCarter Theater in Princeton directed by the incredibly inventive and exciting director Daniel Fish in 2002.
That must be what’s  confusing me. Paul Mullins, another the incredibly inventive and exciting director (as well as actor), is staging the farce here. First performed in 1969,  it shocked audiences.  Nudity and extramarital affairs probably had something to do with that.

Continue reading ‘What the Butler Saw’ begins tonight at NJ Shakespeare Fest

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

Shakespeare Theatre of NJ features a ‘Preacher’ man as its lead in ‘Richard III’

 

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I have been on  a quest, since my kids were old enough go to the theater, to make sure they see productions of all 38 plays by Shakespeare before I die (even though this quest probably is taking years off my life).

My son (23) couldn’t decide which performance opening weekend of “Richard III” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey he wanted to attend — mostly because hanging out with Mom on a Friday or Saturday night was a fate worse than death.

I gave up and took a friend, a Shakespeare lover. Later I told my son the title character was wondrously played by Derek Wilson, who plays Donnie Schenck on AMC’s “Preacher,” one of my son’s favorite shows, and … well, his reax wasn’t pretty. Oh, well.

Continue reading Shakespeare Theatre of NJ features a ‘Preacher’ man as its lead in ‘Richard III’

Excellent ‘Red Velvet’ ends run this Sunday

Lindsay Smiling plays Ira Aldridge, an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career after 1824 largely on the London and European stages, especially in Shakespearean roles. (Photo credit: Jerry Dalia.)
Lindsay Smiling plays Ira Aldridge, an American and later British stage actor and playwright who made his career after 1824 largely on the London and European stages, especially in Shakespearean roles. (Photo credit: Jerry Dalia.)

This is the last weekend to catch the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s “Red Velvet,” a fascinating play about American actor Ira Aldridge, the first black man to play Othello on a London stage. Covent Garden, in fact.

Aldridge’s story is not well known and “Red Velvet” combines history and art for an entertaining — but sometimes emotionally painful — theater experience. Painful because of the bigotry and hate that denied him his due as a human being and a gifted actor.

Continue reading Excellent ‘Red Velvet’ ends run this Sunday

London’s first black Othello in ‘Red Velvet’ at NJ Shakespeare Theatre

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey 2016. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte. Pictured left to right: Lindsay Smiling and Victoria Mack. In background: Shannon Harris and John Little. Photo credit: Jerry Dalia.
Pictured left to right: Lindsay Smiling and Victoria Mack. In background: Shannon Harris and John Little. (Photo credit: Jerry Dalia)

New Jersey Repertory’s new play “Iago,” about a post-World War II love affair amongst three needy London stage actors and their love triangle, tonight is joined by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s NJ premiere of “Red Velvet,” set in the mid-1800s about the true-life story of Ira Aldridge, the first  black actor to appear as Othello on the London stage.

This is so cool. When you’ve seen the entire Shakespeare canon multiple times, getting a new look at one of the world’s favorite playwright always is interesting . Continue reading London’s first black Othello in ‘Red Velvet’ at NJ Shakespeare Theatre

Shakespeare Theatre/NJ offers superb, absurd ‘Exit the King’ in August

If you want real-life Theater of the Absurd this summer season, keep following the American Presidential race. If you want to experience  some on a  smaller stage, a play penned by one of the masters of the art of zany, delusional characters in hopeless situations they refuse to accept, check out “Exit the King” by Eugene Ionesco at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey through August 28.

Continue reading Shakespeare Theatre/NJ offers superb, absurd ‘Exit the King’ in August

‘Coriolanus’ receives fine production at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ

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If you are working your way through the Shakespeare canon via  performances — and who isn’t — “Coriolanus” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is one way to cross off a little-done play receiving a very fine staging. The only problem you may have is with the actual story.

Helmed by longtime STNJ director Brian B. Crowe, “Coriolanus”  is one of Shakespeare’s last plays and not among his best. It focus on Caius Marcius, a legendary Roman soldier-turned-politican. Following his brilliance during the successful battle and siege of Coriolis against the Volscian forces — in which he does one-on-one combat with their leader Aufidius — Marcius is given the nickname  Coriolanus.

On his return, he is urged by his ambitious mother Volumnia to listen to the advice Menenius Agrippa, a Roman senator, to run for the position of consul,  the highest  office in the Roman Empire.

After all, if yo are a successful soldier you obviously would make a great  politician, right? You obviously see where I’m going with this. Meanwhile, Roman citizens are rioting in the streets because they are not being given shares of the grain in storage and fear going hungry.

The tribunes Brutus (John Adlin) and Volutes (Corey Tasmania) are on the side of the starving people, whom Coriolanus dismisses as undeserving  riffraff because they did not serve in the military. Ultimately things go from bad to worse between the haves and have-nots to the point that Coriolanus   loses his temper again, lashes out against the plebeians and tribunes and condemns popular rule.

The tribunes label Coriolanus a traitor and banish him from Rome and, in his anger, he banishes them right back. It’s huge. Especially since he runs to Aufidius in the Volscian capital of Antium, where he joins their army and plans to attack Rome. You know. The place where the people didn’t recognize his genius.

An exciting and dynamic first act, “Coriolanus” has a talky and static  second act as the Volscians plan their attack and emissaries from Rome, including mom Volumnia (Jacqeline Antaramian), wife Virgilia (Amaia Arana) and friend Menenius (Bruce Cromer) try to reason with Coriolanus to get along with his fellow Romans and return to the fold. Greg Derelian gives a finely nuanced performance as the title character. The final moments are very well-staged, theatrical and worth the wait.

For more info, visit the theater or call 973-408-5600.

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare Theater of NJ announces 2016 season; First Folio comes to town

Image of Exterior of the Kirby Theatre, home of the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey located on the campus of Drew University in Madison.
Exterior of the Kirby Theatre, home of the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey located on the campus of Drew University in Madison.

While the world may be acknowledging the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 1616) this year, closer to home the The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is celebrating its 54th season with seven productions and an exhibition of the Bard’s First Folio.

The Madison-based Shakespeare Festival produces six shows at its indoor space at Drew University and one outside in the College of St. Elizabeth’s (Morristown) Greek Theatre (replica of the Theater of Dionysius in Athens).

Martin Droeshout's created the cover for Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio and has 630 pages. Only 233 copies are known to exist.
Shakespeare’s First Folio has 630 pages and includes 36 plays. Only 233 copies are known to exist.

In October, a partnership between Drew University and The Shakespeare Theatre has resulted in Drew being chosen as the New Jersey site for the national First Folio Tour. Published in 1623, only 233 known copies exist. and theatergoers can see one of them at    Mead Hall, across from the Kirby Theatre. To be announced special events are planned, too.

Here’s a quick look at the upcoming season:

Continue reading Shakespeare Theater of NJ announces 2016 season; First Folio comes to town

In time for Halloween, Shakespeare Theatre offers 1-of-a-kind items

This popular annual sale features one-of-a-kind items from the theater's prop, costume, and scenery stock. From masks to furniture, from seat pieces to fabric remnants.
This popular annual sale features one-of-a-kind items from the theater’s prop, costume, and scenery stock, including masks, costumes and  fabric remnants. 

Looking for a costume no one else will have? How about some knee-high cavalier boots? Have no fear, the Bard is here. Rather the stuff the creative people who mount the plays (written 500 years ago through today) made for the stage will be making many of those items available to us. All items are priced to sell.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will hold its Costume, Prop, and Scenery Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 at the theater’s production facility at 3 Vreeland Road in Florham Park.  Admission and parking are free.

For more information, call 973-408-5600. The sale will be held at the Theatre’s administration/production facility, 3 Vreeland Road, Florham Park.

All proceeds benefit The Shakespeare Theatre’s artistic and educational programs.  Only 58 percent of the not-for-profit regional theater’s budget (productions and educational programs) comes from the box office.

NOTE: The sale originally was to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m but has been pushed back to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contributions from corporate, foundation, and government sources and individuals donations also help support its Main Stage, Outdoor Stage and educational programming including  Shakespeare LIVE! which brings Shakespeare and other classic works to schools throughout the mid-Atlantic region; the Student Matinee Series, which enables middle- and high-school students and teachers to attend school-time performances of Main Stage productions; and the Summer Professional Training Program, which offers young actors, designers, technicians, and administrators hands-on professional training.

Stars align for Shakespeare Theatre’s sparkling ‘Misalliance’

Katie Fabel plays Hypatia, a "modern woman," with Jonathan Gillard Daly as Lord Summerhays, just one of her suitors, in the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of George Bernard Shaw's "Misalliance." (PHOTO: Jerry Dalia)
Katie Fabel plays Hypatia, a “modern woman,” with Jonathan Gillard Daly as Lord Summerhays, just one of her suitors, in the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Misalliance.” (PHOTO: Jerry Dalia)

You’ll laugh a lot, think a lot (but not too much) because all the wildly modern ideas expressed in George Bernard Shaw’s 1910 comedy “Misalliance” that were new then — equal rights for men and women, outrage over exploitation of the working classes, anger  about the gap between rich and poor, exercise and healthy lifestyles — all are well established and accepted in 2015. Right?

Yeah, right.

Continue reading Stars align for Shakespeare Theatre’s sparkling ‘Misalliance’