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BWW Review: RICHARD III at STNJ is Powerful and Enthralling

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"The world is grown so bad That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch."

by Richard in Richard III

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) continues its successful season with a brilliant production of William Shakespeare's Richard III. It is being performed on the Madison stage now through Sunday, November 6th. The show is a keen depiction of political scheming and treachery orchestrated by a diabolical tyrant. Masterfully directed by Paul Mullins, it was Mullins who played the title role to rave reviews in the STNJ production a decade ago. Richard III is a powerful must-see show that features outstanding staging with modern touches and a stellar cast. Artistic Director, Bonnie J. Monte and the STNJ Company continue to present audiences with the finest in classical theatre.

Richard III is a historical play believed to be written by Shakespeare in the late 1500's. It depicts the events leading up to Richard, Duke of Gloucester's ascent to the throne of England and his subsequent short reign. Richard is a villain like no other, a physical cripple and cruel, discontent man. His ambitions have no moral boundaries. He rises to power by orchestrating the murder of all those who stand in his path including his brother, King Edward VI, Lord Hastings and his young nephews. He demonizes the women in his life that include his wife Lady Anne, his mother the Duchess of York and his sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth. As the plot unfolds, ambitious cohorts that include Buckingham and thugs like Catesby abet Richard in his quest for power. Richard's twisted logic, manipulative behavior, and remorseless conniving are the hallmarks of his character.

The cast of Richard III is outstanding. They master the drama, treachery and the momentum of the story. Leading the company is Derek Wilson as the Duke of Gloucester and later as King Richard III. Wilson captures both the physical and psychological nature of this complex villain. The company includes: Ames Adamson as Lord Hastings; Oge Agulue as Lord Rivers; Sheffield Chastain as Catesby; Ellen Fiske as Duchess of York; Gretchen Hall as Queen Elizabeth; Carol Halstead as Queen Margaret; John Hickok as Duke of Buckingham; Chris Hietikko as King Edward IV/Lord Stanley; Amaia Arana as Lady Anne and John Keabler as Clarence. Rounding out the cast are company members, Connor Bondas Marquess of Dorset, Mike Magliocca as Lord Grey and Metin Akcay, Ben Hajek and James Suggitt as the young princes.

The Artistic Staff for Richard III has done a great job of creating the visual landscape for the production with set design by Brittany Vasta; lighting design by Tony Galaska; sound design by Benjamin Furiga; costume design by Kristin Isola. The fight director is Rick Sordelet and Margot Whitney is the Production Stage Manager.

Richard III portrays the perilous self-indulgence of an autocrat. The show's themes of dangerous, duplicitous politicians and the intrigue that surrounds them has proven to be timeless. Plan a date and get your tickets. Metro area audiences should flock to see this enthralling production.

Richard III runs for approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission. It is performed at the F.M Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is located on the Drew University campus at 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road) in Madison New Jersey. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 973.408.5600 or by visiting Visitors can visit the First Folio exhibit on public display at Drew University's Mead Hall before or after the show on matinee days and prior to evening performances through October 30th.

Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

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