Photo Flash: First Look - THE ALCHEMIST at The Shakespeare Theatre

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, a rowdy tale of con artists and their gullible prey. This production marks the premiere of Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte's new adaptation of the 17th century work. Performances begin August 6 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue in Madison. Tickets start at $25 for all preview performances. All regular performances offer tickets starting at $32. Student rush tickets for all performances are $15, available a half-hour before curtain for with a valid student ID. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

When the merchant Lovewit flees London to avoid the plague, wild antics ensue as Lovewit's opportunistic butler reimagines himself as Captain Face, a clever character with a "get rich quick" mentality. Face joins forces with fellow con man Subtle and a local prostitute Dol Common. Together, the trio baits a parade of colorful dupes with the promise of gold, including a lawyer's clerk, a tobacconist, a nobleman, a widow, and religious fanatics. Written in 1610, Jonson's bawdy, lunatic comedy demonstrates how little has changed about greed or gullibility in the affairs of mankind.

With an ingenious con man plot line, The Alchemist was one of British playwright Ben Jonson's most successful plays. Along with Shakespeare, Jonson towers above the many influential leaders of English Renaissance literature. Through his plays, poetry, and elaborate masques for James I's court, Jonson was well-known in his day. He achieved early success with a 1598 production of his Every Man in His Humour, a production which featured a young William Shakespeare as an actor. Though few written records remain, The Alchemist is thought to have premiered in 1610 and was one of the first plays to be produced by the King's Men (formerly the Lord Chamberlin's Men) theatre company when they reassumed control of the Blackfriars' Playhouse in 1610.

Creating the world of The Alchemist is scenic designer Jonathan Wentz, costume designer Nikki Delhomme, sound designer Karin Graybash, and lighting designer Steven Rosen. Kathy Snyder serves as production stage manager.

Tickets start at $25 for all preview performances. All regular performances offer tickets starting at $32. Student rush tickets for all performances are $15, available a half-hour before curtain for with a valid student ID. For tickets, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or email boxoffice@shakespearenj.org.

Photos: Jerry Dalia, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

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