Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE LEARNED LADIES

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Outdoor Stage production of Molière's comedy The Learned Ladies brings theatre alive under the stars at the enormously popular summer venue on the campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township. This replica of an ancient Greek theatre nestled into the hillside of the bucolic campus offers a unique theatrical event. The Learned Ladies begins on June 18th and continues through July 27th.

Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 7:30 p.m., and a special twilight performance on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students and $35 for adults. Children under age five go for free. For tickets or more information, call 973-408-5600 or Groups of 10 or more are eligible for group discounts.

The large lawn surrounding the amphitheater is ideal for picnicking. Audience members may bring their own food and beverages, or purchase snacks and soft drinks on-site. Patrons are encouraged to bring low-backed beach chairs into the amphitheatre. Stadium seats are available for rental for $3.00 while supplies last. Seating is general admission.

Molière's satirical masterpiece follows the trials of the young couple Henriette and Clitandre while Henriette's female relations voice their high-brow disapproval. These women fancy themselves culturally "learned" and are great patrons of the pseudo-scholarly Trissotin, a poet with lofty aspirations which include receiving Henriette's hand in marriage. The bourgeois family's conflict provides the comic foundation for Molière's signature farce. As Henriette's father Chrysale wearily exclaims, "Is there a stranger house in Christendom/Than mine, where women are as mad as hatters/And everything is known except what matters?"

Molière's exceptional wit is on full display in this fun farce, filled with frolicking, flirting, and flaunting. Pulitzer Prize-winning American scholar and poet Richard Wilbur translated the work. The New York Times praised Wilbur's skill when Roundabout Theatre Company revived his translation of The Learned Ladies in 1982, "Molière has had no better American friend than...Richard Wilbur, whose translations...are beautiful works of art in themselves."

Photo by Jerry Dalia, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

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