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Monday, February 2, 2015

Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey 2015 Season to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, just named “Company of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal which also described the Theatre as “one of America’s half-dozen leading classical repertory companies,” has announced an ambitious 2015 Season of classic treasures and exceptional new work inspired by historic events and historic figures.  Featuring works by Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, and Ferenc Molnár, alongside a contemporary work by Bill Cain, the Theatre’s line-up demonstrates an unwavering dedication to classic tales that inspire our present lives as well as future visions of the world.

The 2015 roster runs late May through December and includes six productions on its Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison and one summer production on the popular Outdoor Stage – the Greek amphitheater on the campus of The College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township – as well as several special events and programs. Complete Works, 5-Play, and 4-Play discount ticket packages are now available. For information or to purchase a subscription, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

monteout The upcoming season marks Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte’s 25th anniversary with the Theatre. Monte says, “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.”  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 Theatre will celebrate and honor Ms. Monte’s incredible contributions and leadership at the Theatre’s annual gala on Saturday, April 25. 

The Season

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. 

This summer, the Shakespeare Theatre’s 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. 

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.  

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. 

Special Events

A series of special events is also planned for the 2015 Season.  The season’s first special event From Galway to Broadway on Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 pm will feature the acclaimed tenor Ciáran Sheehan of Phantom of the Opera fame. Broadway veteran Gwen Eagleton will join Sheehan onstage to perform a medley of traditional Irish songs, Broadway standards, and beloved pop tunes—just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day. Tickets start at $20. All proceeds benefit The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s young artist education and training programs. For more information, contact the Box Office at (973) 408-5600 or www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

Later in the season, audience favorites Something Wicked This Way Comes and Something Merry This Way Comes will return—back by popular demand. Titled from a line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Something Wicked This Way Comes will feature esteemed actors from The Shakespeare Theatre company as well as guest artists, presenting a 90-minute collage of dramatic readings from the classic canon of the macabre.  This one-night-only event will be held on October 26.     

Hearkening back to a time when families read to each other, Something Merry This Way Comes will be a collage of sparkling and inspiring holiday tales, songs, and poems read by members of The Shakespeare Theatre’s company of actors.  Something Merry This Way Comes is appropriate for all ages, providing a lovely antidote to the commercial glitz that inundates life each year at holiday time.  Something Merry This Way Comes will be held on December 14.

Lend Us Your Ears, the Theatre’s acclaimed play reading series, will returns for the 2015 season with a new slate diverse and exciting plays. The Reading Series script-in-hand readings provide patrons with the opportunity to join the Theatre in exploring classic work; each reading features members of the Theatre’s esteemed company of actors as well as prestigious guest artists. Reading titles will soon be announced.  For more information about these special events, visit ShakespeareNJ.org or call the Box Office at 973-408-5600.

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