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Shakespeare Theatre Of NJ's THE TEMPEST Opens 6/27

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey continues its annual summer tradition of family theatre "under-the-stars" with William Shakespeare's magical and mysterious romance The Tempest directed by Joe Discher.

Performances began on June 24th and the official Opening Night will be celebrated this evening, Saturday June 27th. The Tempest continues through August 2th. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 8:15 p.m. at the Greek Theatre on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road (off Madison Avenue/Rt. 124) in Morris Township. This replica of an ancient Greek theatre nestled into the hillside of the bucolic campus offers a theatrical event unique on the East Coast. Tickets are $32 for adults and $16 for ages 17 and under. For tickets or more information, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org. Patrons may also purchase Ticket Packages for additional discounts. Groups of 10 or more are eligible for group discounts.

The Outdoor Stage is generously sponsored by Bank of America. Bank of America has sponsored The Outdoor Stage since 2004. Their continued support has helped make The Shakespeare Theatre's Outdoor Stage one of the most unique and anticipated summer theatrical events in the region.

This abridged 2-hour production of The Tempest is appropriate for families; for lovers of Shakespeare and for those experiencing Shakespeare for the first time. Patrons are invited to picnic before and during the performance on the lawn overlooking this pastoral setting. The beautiful grass-and-stone amphitheatre - inspired by the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, and one of the only theatres of its kind in the United States - debuted as The Shakespeare Theatre's Outdoor Stage in 2002. Audience members may bring their own food and beverages, or purchase snacks and soft drinks on-site. Patrons can bring a blanket or low beach chair, or rent a stadium seat for $3.00 or a seat cushion for $1.00. Complimentary hand-held fans will be provided courtesy of Air Group Heating and Air Conditioning Co., while supplies last. Seating is general admission.

In Shakespeare's romance, a powerful, sage and exiled nobleman, Prospero, is marooned on a mysterious island full of magical creatures. He prepares to wreak havoc on those who have wronged him, only to learn that compassion and forgiveness are far richer rewards. This mystical fantasy, replete with comedy, romance and music, is perfect for families and people of all ages to experience Shakespeare under-the-stars.

Playing the magus Prospero is returning company member A. Bernard Cummings. Cummings appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre productions of Pericles, Henry IV, Part I, A Midsummer Night's Dream and in 1991, he played Ariel in Bonnie J. Monte's The Tempest - her inaugural production at The Shakespeare Theatre. He has also appeared at prestigious theatres throughout the country including Hartford Stage, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, DC and The Goodman Theatre.

Playing Ariel, the spirit and servant to Prospero, is company member Joel de la Fuente, who appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre in Richard III. Television viewers will recognize de la Fuente as technician Ruben Morales on Law & Order: SVU as well as from E.R. and the Fox drama Space: Above and Beyond. His theatre credits include New York productions of I Have Been to Hiroshima, The Three Sisters, Ivanov and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Shakespeare Theatre veteran Mark Mineart plays the bitter and vengeful Caliban. Mineart appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre in As You Like It and Of Mice and Men. His Broadway credits include Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington and Macbeth with Kelsey Grammer.

Miranda, daughter of Prospero, is played by Rachel Mewbron who returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for her third season. Currently an MFA candidate at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Mewbron has appeared with The Shakespeare Theatre's Shakespeare LIVE! and Next Stage Ensemble touring companies.

Bill Christ returns to the Shakespeare Theatre to play Alonso, the King of Naples. Christ appeared on Broadway in Inherit the Wind with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy and in Search and Destroy.

Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples who falls madly in love with Miranda, is played by Michael Ellison. Providing much comic relief are Shakespeare Theatre favorites Andy Paterson as the jester Trinculo, and Jay Leibowitz as the drunKen Butler Stefano.

Broadway veteran Bryan Hicks (A Few Good Men) plays Antonio, and John Seidman plays Gonzalo. Rounding out the cast are Jake Berger, Tim Nicolai and Ian Michael Austin.

The Tempest is directed by Shakespeare Theatre associate artistic director Joe Discher. Discher, in his 19th season with the Theatre, most recently directed Amadeus on the Main Stage. Other Shakespeare Theatre directed credits include The Play's The Thing, Cymbeline, Life of Galileo, Of Mice and Men, and The Fantasticks, among others. Later this season, he will direct The Grapes of Wrath. At The Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Discher directed Julius Caesar, which broke attendance records. An accomplished actor, Discher is a member of Actor's Equity Association. He sings professionally at St. Cassian Church in Upper Montclair and is an alumnus of Drew University.

The first preview performance of The Tempest on Wednesday, June 24th at 8:15 p.m. offers opportunities for reduced-price tickets, as an incentive to first-time theatergoers. For who would otherwise not be able to afford a night at the theatre, the first preview performance is Pay What You Wish night -- name your own admission price for that evening's 8:15 p.m. preview performance. Offer is subject to availability. Call the box office at 973-408-5600 for details.

For no more than the cost of a regular ticket, Symposium Series performances include the addition of a post-play discussion with the cast and artistic staff, on Tuesday, June 30 at 8:15 p.m. and Saturday July 11 and 18 at 8:15 p.m.

On Thursday, July 2, The Shakespeare Theatre presents the popular education program Know the Show. From 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., director Joe Discher will present a pre-performance talk that provides background information and an insider's perspective on The Tempest.

General admission to Know The Show is $5 for the general public, $4 for subscribers and ticket package holders. Tickets to that evening's 8:15 p.m. performance may be purchased separately for $32 or $16 for young people 17 and under. Single ticket prices include a $2.00 Facility fee not subject to discount.

Creating the world of The Tempest are set designer Charles Calvert, costume designer Alixandra Gage Englund, lighting designer Andrew Hungerford and sound designer Charles Harbert. Christine Whalen is the production stage manager.

Additional performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 8:15 pm. There is no performance on July 4.

All tickets are $32 for adults and teens and $16 for young people under 17. Children under 5 go free. Seating is general admission. For tickets or more information, call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org. Groups of 10 or more save up to 25% off the regular ticket price.

Patrons can save up to 40% off regular ticket prices by purchasing Discount Ticket Packages. Patrons can select six, five or four plays of their choice at discount prices. Ticket Packages also offer additional benefits such as discounts on additional tickets and flexible ticket exchange privileges. Patrons may also select FlexPasses -- discounted vouchers that are redeemed for tickets during the season. To order, or for more information call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's 2009 Season continues with six additional productions on the Main Stage.

American playwright's Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes runs through June 28. Directed by Matthew Arbour, American playwright Hellman's piece is a compelling, cautionary tale of an ambitious, turn-of-the-century Southern family torn apart by bitter disappointment, greed, and deception.

Moliere's The School for Wives, translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur, continues the summer season running July 8 through July 26. The sparkling comedy, replete with period costumes, will be directed by Shakespeare Theatre resident director Brian B. Crowe. In The School for Wives, a pompous, middle-aged bachelor attempts to mold his ward into the perfect bride, but it is he who gets the true education as best laid plans fall prey to a determined rival suitor, a pair of inept servants and true love. Molière's celebrated comedy never fails to delight audiences.

One of the most popular back-stage comedies, Noises Off by Michael Frayn, is next running August 5 through August 30th. Quickly earning an exalted spot in the canon of classic comedies, Noises Off pulls back the curtain on a troupe of actors in rehearsal and performance for Nothing On, a ridiculously silly bedroom farce where off-stage shenanigans lead to hilarious on-stage chaos. Noises Off is directed by Paul Mullins.

Considered by many to be the greatest play ever written, Shakespeare's Hamlet takes the stage next running September 9 through October 11. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte, this production will feature a haunting and evocative soundscape featuring the voices of Harmonium Choral Society. Broadway veteran Gareth Saxe returns to The Shakespeare Theatre to play Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark.

Adapted by Frank Galati from the epic novel by John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath runs October 21 through November 21. The story of Tom Joad and his family's flight from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma during the Great Depression is a majestic and deeply affecting portrait of American life and the American soul at a defining moment in our nation's history. The production is directed by Joe Discher.

Closing the season is Shakespeare's Twelfth Night running December 2 through January 3, 2010. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte, Twelfth Night is a shimmering confection - delightfully tart, ravishingly bittersweet and spectacularly frothy all at once. It is a joyous show for the holidays and for families of all ages.

For more information about the season, call 973-408-5600, email boxoffice@ShakespeareNJ.org or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Outdoor Stage, the Greek Theatre on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth, is conveniently located at 2 Convent Road, off Madison Avenue (Rt. 124) in Convent Station, just minutes from routes 287, 78 and 10. Parking is free. The theatre is barrier free. Wheelchair seating is available. Braille and Large Print programs are available. Infrared listening devices are available free of charge.

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Main Stage, the 308-seat F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, is conveniently located in Madison at 36 Madison Avenue (Route 124) at Lancaster Road (on the Drew University campus), just minutes from routes 287, 78 and 10. Parking is free. 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, captioned and sign-language interpreted. Contact the theatre for more information. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org

Photo by Gerry Goodstein



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