Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte’s is celebrating her 25th anniversary with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
“When I arrived here, I was filled to the brim with ambitions to create a place so special that everyone — from the youngest aspiring artist to the most renowned performer, from the greenest intern to the most dedicated volunteers— could and would view this theatre as ‘home,’ ‘ Monte said. “Happily, it has indeed become a home to a wildly diverse, lively, ever-growing family of artists and audience members who, together, make The Shakespeare Theatre feel like a family.
“While many, many changes both visible and invisible have occurred here since my arrival so long ago, one thing has never changed: our deep belief in the power and importance of the art of live theatre, and the joy and enlightenment that it delivers to the human soul.”
The 2015 season kicks off with The Royal Family by George S. Kaufman (You Can’t Take It With You, The Man Who Came To Dinner) and Edna Ferber (Stage Door, the novel Show Boat). This Tony Award-winning American classic celebrates the passions, tribulations, and triumphs of the dynastic Cavendish family, three generations of theatre artists, loosely based on the actual Barrymore clan. Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte will direct this lavish, outrageously funny depiction of the bonds created by one’s real family and the one that exists on the stage. The Royal Family will begin performances on May 27 and continue through June 21.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
The Outdoor Stage will once again bring Shakespeare to life under the stars with Love’s Labour’s Lost. Three idealistic young courtiers vow “not to see ladies” in order to “study, fast, not sleep!” But when three witty French beauties arrive in court, testing the young lords’ resolve, the result is one of the Bard’s most delightful romps. Directed by resident director Brian B. Crowe (who also directed last summer’s The Learned Ladies), Love’s Labour’s Lost will delight audiences of all ages at the beautiful, family-friendly amphitheatre on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth. Performances will begin on June 17 and continue through July 26.
Back on the Main Stage, the company will present The Guardsman, early-20th century Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár’s romantic comedy about the obstacles to marital bliss. His provocative examination of the ambiguities in a marriage between Vienna’s strong-willed leading lady and her beleaguered actor husband is both witty and moving. The Guardsman will begin performances on July 8 and continue through July 26.
The Shakespeare Theatre’s Artistic Associate Stephen Brown-Fried will take the stage next, directing George Bernard Shaw’s boisterous, biting comedy Misalliance. Set in the lush solarium of the Tarleton family’s sprawling country estate, patriarch John Tarleton, king of the undergarment industry, struggles to maintain control over his headstrong daughter, rebellious son, high-maintenance wife, and a host of friends, colleagues, and unexpected visitors, some of whom happen to “drop in” from out of the sky. In Misalliance, Shaw creates a chaotic clash of class, gender, and generations as he gleefully exposes and dismantles the idiosyncrasies of the upper class and “family values.” Misalliance will run August 5 through 30.
Launching the fall portion of the season, the Theatre will present the New Jersey premiere of Bill Cain’s Equivocation. This fictional imagining of the events surrounding the famous Gunpowder Plot pulls Shakespeare and his company of players into a riotous, complex examination of the elusive nature of truth, the struggle for artistic integrity, and the heartbreaking dynamic of family. With Shakespeare as the main character (or Shagspeare as he is called in the play), this funny, smart, and heart-wrenching show will intrigue Shakespeare lovers, history buffs, conspiracy theorists, political junkies, and anyone who loves a good story. Equivocation will begin performances on September 16 and continue through October 4.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Nearly 75 years ago, a young girl named Anne Frank received a blank diary for her 13th birthday. The words with which she filled its pages will come to life this fall under the sure hand of director Joseph Discher. Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s Pulitzer, Tony and Critic’s Circle Award-winning play The Diary of Anne Frank, newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman, will provide an unforgettable experience for people of all ages. On the occasion of the play’s premiere, the New York Herald-Tribune said the powerful work depicted “the quality of glowing, ineradicable life – life in its warmth, its wonder, its spasms of anguish, and its wild, flaring humor.” The extended run of The Diary of Anne Frank will feature numerous school-time matinees for students; performances will begin on October 14.
Merry Wives of Windsor
The 2015 season concludes with Shakespeare’s rowdy, opulent, and bawdy Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Bonnie J. Monte. Another play that celebrates “family” in all its infinite aspects, this production will take inspiration from the holiday season and deliver up a feast of comedic joy, with a roguish Falstaff as the centerpiece, surrounded by a veritable cornucopia of colorful characters and scenic delights. This Shakespeare comedy will begin performances on December 2 and continue through December 27.