Shakespeare Theatre of NJ Kicks Off 50th Season with HENRY IV, PART ONE, 5/30-6/24

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will launch its 2012 milestone 50th Anniversary season with William Shakespeare's saga of a young prince's reformation and ascent to manhood – Henry IV, Part One. Considered one of Shakespeare's most popular history plays, this rousing tale has not been produced on The Shakespeare Theatre stage in 20 years. Henry IV, Part One begins performances on May 30 and runs through June 24 at the Theatre's Main Stage – the F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. All tickets, including discounted ticket packages are now on sale. For tickets or for more information, call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org. The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is located at 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road), in Madison.

Henry IV, Part One features Shakespeare's brilliant invention of Falstaff, the colorful character who appears in three of the Bard's plays. In Henry IV, Part One, we see him at the height of his rowdy and bawdy powers. Along with the delinquent Prince Hal, the fiery Hotspur, and a host of nobles and ner'er-do-wells, fact and fiction blend seamlessly under Shakespeare's sure hand in this stirring and exuberant evening of theatre.

The cast features a combination of Shakespeare Theatre favorites and newcomers making their Shakespeare Theatre debut. One of the Theatre's brightest, young leading men, Derek Wilson, returns to the Theatre for his seventh season to play the irresponsible Prince Hal, the Prince of Wales. Wilson appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre productions of No Man's Land, The Comedy of Errors, and Henry VI: Blood and Roses among many others. He has also appeared in several productions at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC., the NYFringe, The English Company and Human Race Theatre Company.

John Ahlin plays the hedonistic, witty and larger-than-life Sir John Falstaff. In his fifth season with the Theatre, Ahlin appeared most recently in A Christmas Carol, and All's Well that Ends Well. On Broadway, he appeared in Waiting for Godot with Bill Irwin, Nathan Lane and John Glover, the Tony Award-winning Journey's End, The Lieutenant of Inishimore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo' Time and Whoopee! Ahlin has played all the Falstaff's, except Verdi's, in more than 30 Shakespeare productions -- most recently in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Jon Barker returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for his fifth season to play the warrior Henry Percy, also known as Hotspur. Barker played Cassio in last season's Othello and is a veteran of almost a dozen Shakespeare Theatre productions. He has also appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Paramount Theatre and recently appeared in The Dangers of Electric Lighting at Luna Stage.

King Henry IV is played by Brent Harris who returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for his second season. Last season, he played the iconic role of Atticus Finch in the Theatre's acclaimed To Kill A Mockingbird and the role of Alcibiades in Timon of Athens. He recently played Scar in the national tour of The Lion King. He has also appeared at The American Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Denver Center Theatre among many others.

Other Shakespeare Theatre veterans returning for Henry IV, Part One include John Little (The Grapes of Wrath) as Earl of Westmoreland; Conan McCarty (To Kill A Mockingbird) as Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester; Doug West (Macbeth) as Lord Edmund Mortimer, Jeffrey M. Bender (Accidental Death of an Anarchist) as Poins, Patrick Toon (Othello) as Bardolph and Izzie Steele as the fiery Lady Percy. Making his Shakespeare Theatre debut is Maxon Davis as Archibald.

Rounding out the cast are Cliff Miller, RoBert Grant, Glenn Beatty, Drew Dix, Jordan Laroya, Jesse Graham and Cliff Miller.

Joseph Discher (director) is in his 22st season with The Shakespeare Theatre, where he oversees casting for The Theatre's various acting companies and aids in training program recruitment, outreach and education programs. His company directing credits include To Kill A Mockingbird, Arms and the Man, The Grapes of Wrath (named Best Director by the Star-Ledger), The Tempest, Amadeus, The Play's the Thing, Cymbeline, Life of Galileo, Of Mice and Men (Best Revival of the Year, The Star-Ledger), A Midwinter Night's Dream, The Fantasticks (Best Director of a Musical, The Star-Ledger) and Twelfth Night on the Main Stage; That Scoundrel Scapin on the Outdoor Stage. Discher directed Julius Caesar in 2006 for The Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, which broke attendance records, playing to 50,000 in three weeks. He is an alumnus of Drew University, and Delbarton School.

Creating the world of Henry IV, Part One are are set designer Jonathan Wentz; lighting designer Matthew Adelson; costume designer Paul Canada, sound designer Richard M. Dionne and fight director Rick Sordelet. Kathy Snyder is the production stage manager.

Single tickets for Henry IV, Part One are now on sale and start at $32. Student Rush tickets are available 30-minutes before curtain for $10 with a valid student ID. For tickets, call the box office at 973-408-5600, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or email boxoffice@shakespearenj.org. Single ticket prices include a $2 facility fee not subject to discount. Discount ticket packages, offering discounts of up to 42% off regular prices, are also available. Look for more information on the website.

Preview performances for Henry IV, Part One are May 30th at 7:30 pm, May 31st and June 1st at 8 pm, and June 2nd at 2 pm. These Preview performances offer opportunities for reduced-priced tickets while enjoying the excitement of the very first performances in front of an audience. As always, the first Preview performance is Pay What You Can night. Visit The Shakespeare Theatre Box Office between noon and 7:30 p.m. on May 30th and purchase a ticket for what you are able to pay for that evening's 7:30 preview performance (offer subject to availability).

For no more than the cost of a regular ticket, three Symposium Series performances are offered for each show and include a post-play discussion with the cast and artistic staff. Symposium performances for Henry IV, Part One will be Tuesday, June 5th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 9th and 16th at 2 p.m.

For each production, The Shakespeare Theatre presents the popular education program Know the Show. From 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., an artist from The Shakespeare Theatre will present a pre-performance talk that provides background information and an insider's perspective onthe production. Know the Show will be held on Thursday, June 7th at 7:00 p.m. General admission is $5 for the general public, $4 for ticket package holders. Tickets to that evening's 8:00 p.m. performance may be purchased separately.

The 2 pm performance on June 16th will be audio described for those who are blind or have visual impairments. Audio description enables patrons with visual impairments to hear, through an FM transmitter, a live description of the action on the stage. A pre-performance sensory seminar is offered that allows patrons to feel props, costumes and set pieces to further enhance their live theatrical experience. The service is offered free of charge.

In conjunction with the Main Stage production of Henry IV, Part One, the Theatre will present a play reading of Henry IV, Part Two as part of its Lend Us Your Ears series. This play reading series offer the opportunity to join Shakespeare Theatre directors, actors and artistic staff as they explore diverse and exciting plays. These script-in-hand readings feature members of the Theatre's company as well as prestigious guest artists. A talk-back session with the director and the actors allows the audience to provide feedback on the play and its potential for future production. Shakespeare's rarely produced "sequel" continues the story of the young Prince Henry and Falstaff, and leads to the Prince's ascension to the throne. The reading will be held on Monday, July 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. Tickets are $15; or $10 for students.

The play reading series continues with Wittenberg by David Davalos on September 24 at 7 p.m. This clever and irreverent comedy portrays Doctor Faustus and Martin Luther as rival college professors vying for the attention of their star pupil – Hamlet. Helen of Troy and a variety of other historical characters make cameo appearances throughout the witty and inventive tale.

THE 2012 SEASON

Next up on the Main Stage is a playfully wicked, new adaptation of Pierre Corneille's French farce The Liar. About its sold-out, critically acclaimed run in Washington, DC, The Washington Post said of this award-winning adaptation, "The Liar and its mischievous adapter, David Ives, want you to savor every meticulously groomed conceit, every stylishly turned-out couplet, every assiduously manicured joke." The outrageous hijinks of six young lovers from Parisian high-society in the 1600's will make you laugh till you cry. The Liar will run from July 4 – 29th and is directed by long-time company member Paul Mullins (Noises Off, Accidental Death of an Anarchist).

The summer continues with Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directing Shakespeare's dark comedy Measure for Measure. This mercurial masterpiece could have been written yesterday. An age-old tale of scandal, abuse of power and what happens when repression and profligacy get equally out of balance, this is a story for all times, and its contemporary relevance is chillingly palpable. Measure for Measure will begin performances on August 8th and continue through August 26th.

For its annual Outdoor Stage production at the Greek amphitheater at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morris Township, The Shakespeare Theatre will present Shakespeare's raucous slapstick The Comedy of Errors. Two sets of identical twins, mistaken identities, colorful characters and a madcap chase sequence (to rival all chase sequences!) conspire to make this caper a thrill for children and adults of all ages! This outdoor production will be directed by Shakespeare Theatre veteran Jason King Jones (The Complete Work of William Shakespeare (abridged)). The Comedy of Errorswill run from June 20th through July 29th.

To launch the Fall portion of the season, director Brian B. Crowe will set his imagination in motion for Neil Bartlett's highly-praised adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. Featuring an ensemble of 12 actors who play myriad roles, the visceral landscape of Victorian England's underworld comes to life in this dynamic theatrical vision of Dickens'classic. Oliver Twist runs September 12th through October 7th.

Not since 2004 has The Shakespeare Theatre produced a musical but, to celebrate its 50th Anniversary Season, the Theatre will present the award-winning musical Man of La Mancha, based on Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte will direct with Broadway veteran and longtime Shakespeare Theatre Company member Robert Cuccioli in the iconic role of Don Quixote. Man of La Mancha will begin performances on October 17th and continue through November 18th.

The Theatre's 50th Anniversary Season will close with the rarely-seen classic gem Trelawny of the Wells by Arthur Wing Pinero. This effervescent romantic comedy about life in the theatre in England at the turn of the 19th century is a giddy and moving homage to art and artists. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte, Trelawny of the Wells runs December 5th through December 30th.

Back by popular demand are Something Wicked This Way Comes and Something Merry This Way Comes. Titled from a line in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Something Wicked This Way Comes features 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 29.

Hearkening back to a time when families read to each other, Something Merry This Way Comes is a cornucopia 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, and provides simple and pure antidote to the commercial glitz that inundates our lives each year as we near the holidays. Something Merry This Way Comes will be held on December 10.

Tickets to Something Wicked This Way Comes and Something Merry This Way Comes are $32.

The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is barrier free with access into the Theatre via a ramp and elevator access to all floors. Wheelchair seating and transfer seating is available. Braille and large print programs are available. Infrared listening devices are available free of charge. Some performances are audio described. Contact the theatre for more information. The Outdoor Stage is located on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road in Morris Township. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually, it is New Jersey's only professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare's canon and other world classics. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.

Henry IV, Part One Schedule:

Previews: Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 pm; Thursday & Friday, May 31, June 1 at 8 pm; Saturday, June 2 at 2 pm

Opening Night: Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 pm.

Post-Show Symposium Performances: Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, June 9and 16 at 2 pm.

Know the Show: Thursday, June 7 at 7 pm.

Audio Described Performance: Saturday, June 16 at 2 pm.

Closing performance: Sunday, June 24 at 2 pm.

Performances: Tuesdays: June 5, 12, 19 at 7:30 pm., Wednesdays: May 30, June 6, 13, 20 at 7:30 pm., Thursdays: May 31, June 7, 14, 21 at 8 pm., Fridays: June 1, 8, 15, 22 at 8 pm., Saturdays: June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 2 pm., Saturdays: June 2 (7:30 p.m.), 9, 16, 23 at 8 pm., Sundays: June 3, 10, 17, 24 at 2 pm. and Sundays: June 3, 10, 17 at 7:30 pm.

THE 2012 SEASON

The Main Stage

Henry IV, Part One
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Joseph Discher
May 30 through June 24
Press Opening – June 2, 7:30 p.m.

The Liar
By David Ives; adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille
Directed by Paul Mullins
July 4 – July 29
Press Opening – July 7, 7:30 p.m.

Measure for Measure
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
August 8 – August 26
Press Opening – August 11, 7:30 p.m.

Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist
Adapted by Neil Bartlett
Directed by Brian B. Crowe
September 12 – October 7
Press Opening – September 15, 7:30 p.m.

Man of La Mancha
By Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh
Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
October 17 – November 18
Press Opening – October 20, 7:30 p.m.

Trelawny of the Wells
By Arthur Wing Pinero
Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
December 5 – December 30
Press Opening – December 8, 7:30 p.m.

On the Outdoor Stage

The Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jason King Jones
June 20 – July 29
Press Opening – June 30, 7:30 pm.

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