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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Begins 12/3 at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's 2014 Season will conclude with the Bard's beloved battle of wits, Much Ado About Nothing. Renowned Stratford Festival artist Scott Wentworth will perform "double duty," directing the production and playing the staunch bachelor Benedick, opposite his real-life wife Marion Adler as the feisty Beatrice. This production will celebrate the winter holiday season, filled with music and dance that evokes the end of World War II, White Christmas era. Performances begin December 3rd at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Road) in Madison.

Ticket prices start at $25 for preview performances and $32 for regular performances. 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.

The Theatre has not staged Much Ado About Nothing in over a decade. "Much Ado is one of Shakespeare's 'extra special' treasures. You wait for the perfect ensemble of artists before you stage it," says Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte. "When I heard Scott's ideas for the show, I knew his Much Ado would be a wonderful and delightful finale to our ambitious 2014 season."

Director and actor Scott Wentworth is in his eighth season with The Shakespeare Theatre where his directorial credits include Enter The Guardsman, Othello, As You Like It, The School For Scandal, Henry V and The Winter's Tale. Wentworth also appeared on The Shakespeare Theatre stage, performing the role of Jacques in Monte's 2005 production of As You Like It. He is a longtime company member of Ontario's Stratford Festival; last season he performed the roles of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof in rotating repertory. On Broadway, he has appeared in Welcome To The Club for which he received a Tony Award nomination, Getting Married, Anna Karenina, and Lost in Yonkers. He has written the books for two musicals: Gunmetal Blues and Enter The Guardsman, which premiered at London's Donmar Warehouse and received Olivier Award nomination. His adaptation of The Man In The Iron Mask premiered at Shakespeare Santa Cruz in 2012.

As the feisty and independent Beatrice, Marion Adler will return to The Shakespeare Theatre after playing the hilarious matriarch Philaminte in this summer's The Learned Ladies on the Outdoor Stage. Her company credits include Our Town, A Midsummer Night's Dream. She wrote the lyrics for the Olivier-nominated musical Enter the Guardsmen, which The Shakespeare Theatre produced in 1999. In addition to numerous acting credits across the United States, Canada, and Europe, Adler has authored lyrics for Gunmetal Blues and How to Make a Musical; she received the prestigious Kleban Award for her body of work as a lyricist.

As Don Pedro, another Shakespeare Theatre veteran John Hickok returns to the Theatre after portraying the hen-pecked patriarch in this summer's The Learned Ladies on the Outdoor Stage. He has worked extensively regionally and on Broadway, playing opposite Frank Langella in Man and Boy at the Roundabout and originating the roles of Governor Slaton in Parade, Zoser in Aida, and Professor Bhaer in Little Women also on Broadway.

Company member Susan Maris, in her fifth season with the Theatre, plays the ingenue Hero. Her recent theatre credits include work with Manhattan Theatre Source, Toy Box Theatre Company, Theatreworks Colorado, and The Prospect Theatre Company. Her film credits include She Gave Me Water, Limitless, and College Humor.

As the conflicted Claudio, Charles Pasternak makes his Shakespeare Theatre debut. His extensive regional credits include work with Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Indiana Repertory Company, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, The Denver Center, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, among others. He is the Artistic Director of the Porters of Hellsgate Theatre Company. based in Los Angeles, where he has directed over a dozen of Shakespeare's plays and has played roles including Henry V, Hamlet, and Oedipus.

Jeffrey M. Bender, in his fifteenth season with the Theatre, will portray Dogberry, the local constable. Bender recently appeared on Broadway in A Time to Kill at the Golden Theater and in Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. He has also worked at Denver Center Theatre, Arena Stage, the Old Globe, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Shakespeare Theatre veteran Michael Stewart Allen will play the villainous Don John. Allen just completed the first national tour of The National Theatre's hit War Horse. He has worked with The Old Globe, Arkansas Repertory, The Acting Company, and Prospect Theatre.

As Dogberry's partner Verges, Conan McCarty returns for his sixth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, where his credits include Henry IV, Part One, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Tempest, Henry V, and The Merchant of Venice. On Broadway, he has appeared in Macbeth with Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson, A Few Good Men, and A Life In The Theatre. His film and television credits include The Closer, Nurse Jackie, Stuart Little 2, and the web series Downsized.

As the levelheaded Father Francis, Andy Paterson returns to the Theatre for his eleventh season, where he appeared in last season's world premiere of A Most Dangerous Woman, as well as Oliver Twist, A Child's Christmas In Wales, School For Scandal, The Winter's Tale, and Two Gentlemen Of Verona-The Musical.

Longtime company member Raphael Nash Thompson, recently seen in this season's The Alchemist, will play Hero's father Leonato. Thompson's credits include Morocco in The Merchant of Venice at Theater for a New Audience with F. Murray Abraham as Shylock, as well as work with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Red Bull Theatre, among others.

Austin Blunk, James Costello, Rachael Fox, Travis Johnson, and Christine Sanders round out the cast.

Creating the world of Much Ado About Nothing is scenic designer Michael Ganio, costume designer Candida Nichols, sound designer Steven L. Beckel, and lighting designer Peter West. Peter Foley will compose original music. Daphne Cunliffe will serve as the period dance consultant. Denise Cardarelli will serve as production stage manager.

New Audience Engagement Opportunity - The Shakespeare Theatre is pleased to announce a new opportunity for audiences to enhance their theatergoing experience. Half-an-hour before the curtain of each performance, a company member will be available in the Theatre's lobby to answer questions about the play and to talk about the production and the process. This informal artistic/audience interaction is designed to enrich one's experience in viewing the play. "Many audience members have inquired about additional opportunities to engage with our wonderful work on the stage. In addition to our popular Symposium and Know the Show series, and our educational audience guides, we're thrilled to offer this chance for patrons to learn more about the production process as they gather and wait for the play to begin," says Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte.

The Shakespeare Theatre will continue to present the popular education program Know the Show, a program which provides background information and an insider's perspective on the production. The Know the Show performance will be held on Thursday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m. General admission is $5 for the general public, $4 for ticket package holders and subscribers. Tickets to that evening's 8:00 p.m. performance may be purchased separately.

Three Symposium Series performances are offered for each show and include a free post-play discussion with the cast and artistic staff. Symposium performances for Much Ado About Nothing will be Tuesday, December 9 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 13 and Saturday, December 20 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $25 for preview performances and $32 for regular performances. 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.

Discount preview performances for Much Ado About Nothing are Wednesday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday, December 4 and 5 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, December 6 at 2 p.m. 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 curtain on December 3 and purchase a ticket for that evening's 7:30 p.m. preview performance for what you are able to pay (offer subject to availability).

One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually, The Shakespeare Theatre is New Jersey's largest 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.

The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. The Outdoor Stage is located on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth and the Theatre's support and education facility is in Florham Park.

Artwork by Scott McKowen



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