Tag Archives: Shakespeare

‘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.





‘Something Rotten’ embraces losing Best Musical Tony Award

Although "Something Rotten"had 10 Tony Award nominations, the only one it took home was for Christian Borle for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)
Although “Something Rotten” earned 10 Tony Award nominations, the only one it took home was for Christian Borle for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)

Usually a Broadway show that wins only one Tony Award, or just got nominated for one Tony, emphasizes the positive. Not “Something Rotten.” It ran a full-page ad in the NYTimes proclaiming  itself a “Loser,” after taking home only 1 of the 10 awards for which it was nominated.

An excellent article recently published in the NYTimes explores the producers chutzpah. Reporter Michael Paulson writes, ” ‘The “Rotten!’ ad was devised the day after the Tony Awards, when the show’s dejected marketing team gathered at the offices of its advertising agency, SpotCo, to figure out what to do next.”

After all, the irony of the whole thing is “Something Rotten” is about two struggling playwrights who are desperate to best their chief rival — Will Shakespeare — and the only Tony the show got was for Christian Borle, who plays Shakespeare.

So the producers of the show that was nominated for “Best Musical” decided to point out what great company they were in including other “losers” that didn’t take home the Best Musical award, such as “West Side Story,” “Grease,” “Mama Mia!” and “Wicked.”

Image of the full page NYTimes ad for "Something Rotten."“You’re always hoping that you’re going to win, but if you don’t, you have to think about how to position your show,”  Kevin McCollum, the lead producer of “Rotten!”  told the NY Times. “Very few shows have the confidence to go with the headline ‘Loser!,’ but it illustrates that we’re confident enough to acknowledge our loss and celebrate those that came before us.”

To read the complete story, click here.

To order tickets, click here.

2 River Theater schedules all-male ‘Forum,’ plus all-female ‘I Remember Mama’

The Two River Theater company announced its 2015-2016 season Monday night before an applause-happy crowd and it includes an all-male Plautus-inspired production of “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” and an all-female staging of “I Remember Mama” in which none of the 10 actresses are under age 65.

Now that’s something you don’t see very often at the country’s top regional theaters.

Continue reading 2 River Theater schedules all-male ‘Forum,’ plus all-female ‘I Remember Mama’

‘Something Rotten!’ musical forgoes Seattle, direct to Broadway

Screen Shot of website for new Broadway musical "Something Rotten!
Screen shot of website for new Broadway musical “Something Rotten!”

“Something  Rotten!” producers are so eager to get to Broadway they’re bypassing a world premiere in Seattle. With a plot about two brothers desperate to write a hit musical to compete with  Shakespeare, I can’t wait either. Tickets for the first three previews are  $15.95, the year in which the play is set: 1595. Cool.

Continue reading ‘Something Rotten!’ musical forgoes Seattle, direct to Broadway