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Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD

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The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will launch its 51st Season with J.M. Synge's classic The Playboy of the Western World. Performances began on May 29th and continue through June 23rd at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below!

Ireland's great playwright and poet J.M. Synge created a grand adventure with The Playboy of the Western World - part tall tale, part outrageous comedy and part bittersweet parable. A young country lad's transformation from beaten-down weakling to celebrated "playboy" captures the poetic heart of the wild Irish imagination in magnificent lyrical style.

Despite its initial controversy - the play caused riots in the streets of Dublin when it premiered at the famed Abbey Theatre and again when it opened in New York City - Playboy of the Western World has become Synge's most well-known work and is celebrated as one of the great dramas of the 20th century. Also a poet and writer of prose, Synge's works include In the Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea, The Aran Islands, The Tinker's Wedding and more. His writings, admired for their craftsmanship and use of native dialects, had a tremendous influence on Irish literary and theatrical circles.

Christy, the "Playboy" is played by Michael A. Newcomer, making his Shakespeare Theatre debut. Newcomer was a company member at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and recently won a Los Angeles Drama Critic's Circle Award for his performance in The Bunglers at A Noise Within. He can be seen in the current thriller film A Thousand Cuts.

Company member Izzie Steele plays Pegeen Flaherty, who falls for Christy. Steele has appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre in Henry IV, Part One, All's Well That Ends Well and Romeo and Juliet as well as with the Theatre's Shakespeare LIVE! touring company. She has also been seen on Law and Order:SVU and will appear in the independent film Mind's Eye starring Malcolm McDowell and Dean Cain due out this summer.

Shakespeare Theatre veteran Matt Sullivan plays Michael James Flaherty, Pegeen's father and the local pub owner. Sullivan has appeared in Shakespeare Theatre productions of Trelawny of the Wells, I Capture The Castle, Othello, The Misanthrope, and Noises Off among others. Most recently he appeared in Three Musketeers at Cincinnati Playhouse, in Hay Fever at the Guthrie Theatre and off-Broadway in Standing On Ceremony.

Edmond Genest returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for his 18th season to play Old Mahon, Christy's abusive father. Genest's copious Shakespeare Theatre credits include Trelawny of the Wells, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, No Man's Land, Noises Off, King Lear and many more. He has appeared on Broadway in The Elephant Man, A Few Good Men, The Real Thing and Whose Life is it Anyway?.

Making her Shakespeare Theatre debut is Emma O'Donnell who plays the widow Quin. O'Donnell appeared off-Broadway in the Irish Repertory Theater Productions of The Shaughraun, Prisoner of the Crown, and The Hairy Ape. She has appeared at theatres throughout the country including The Guthrie Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, and Florida Studio Theatre among others.

James Russell plays the young farmer Shawn. Russell appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre production of The Liar as well as A Midsummer Night's Dream on the Outdoor Stage. In New York City, he appeared in The Freedom of the City at Irish Rep, Hamlet, and Tis Pity She's a Whore among others. His television credits include Blue Bloods and Deception.

Michael Daly returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for his 6th season to play The Farmer Jimmy Farrell. He has appeared on the Main Stage in The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men among others. Regionally, he appeared in Greater Tuna at Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Pride and Prejudice and Twelfth Night at Orlando Shakespeare Festival.

Patrick Toon plays The Farmer Philly Cullen. Most recently, Toon appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre's production of Henry IV, Part One. Other Shakespeare Theatre credits include Othello, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Amadeus.

Rounding out the cast are Madeline Fendrick, Sarah Quigley, Megan Sass, and Elaine Stenson.

Individual tickets and discount ticket packages are now on sale and can be purchased by calling the box office at 973-408-5600 or by visiting www.ShakespeareNJ.org. Individual tickets range from $35 to $70; student rush tickets are available 30 minutes prior to curtain for $15.

Photo Credit: Gerry Goodstein/The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Matt Sullivan as Michael James Flaherty, owner of the country public house and James Russell as Shawn Keogh who hopes to marry Michael James' daughter.

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Izzie Steele as Pegeen, Matt Sullivan as Michael James Flaherty, Michael Daly as Jimmy Farrell and James Russell as Shawn Keogh gather in the country public-house.

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Michael A. Newcomer as Christy Mahon tells his harrowing tale to Izzie Steele as Pegeen, Patrick Toon as Philly Cullen and Michael Daly as Jimmy Farrell.

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Emma O'Donnell plays Widow Quinn who comforts Christy Mahon, the newly arrived visitor to the public-house played by Michael A. Newcomer.

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Emma O'Donnell and Patrick Toon as Philly Cullen.

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
The townspeople celebrate Christy, played by Michael A. Newcomer, who has triumphed in the local games, as Pegeen, played by Izzie Steel looks on (front right).

Photo Flash: First Look at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Izzie Steele as Pegeen who falls in love with Christy Mahon, played by Michael A. Newcomer.


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