Today is the last chance to see The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s marvelous production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Here is our review: “For a fun-filled evening under the stars look no further than The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s delightful production of what may be the world’s most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. This is the 10th Anniversary of its Outdoor Stage…the annual summer tradition of family theatre “under-the-stars.” The venue is the intimate Greek amphitheatre on the beautiful pastoral campus of the College of St. Elizabeth in Morris Township,New Jersey.
This 90-minute version of the comedy is directed with great style by Cameron Watson. Even if you are familiar with the play (and who isn’t ?), Watson’s staging is a delight to behold. He makes great use of the entire space with action taking place in almost all areas of the theatre including the aisles. Remember the plot? “Two pairs of young sweethearts steal away into the forest trying to escape the consequences of an arranged marriage, and rush headlong and unknowingly into the domain of impishly interfering immortals.”
Watson has assembled a wonderful cast…they may be the most energetic group of actors to mount a stage in a longtime.
Broadway and television veteran Robert Clohessy may have the best role. Clohessy plays Nick Bottom, the weaver, who has a spell cast upon him and is part of the “Rude Mechanicals” who perform a play-within-the-play. He is an audience favorite with a broad comedic performance that’s one part Jackie Gleason and two parts Art Carney.
Another Broadway veteran John Hickok plays Peter Quince, the carpenter. Playing the most famous character of the play…the prankster, Puck… the “merry wanderer of the night” is the splendid Seamus Mulcahy.
Most of the outstanding cast are Shakespeare Theatre company members; Brian Cade plays Demetrius who loves Hermia but is pursued by Helena. Rebecca Mozo, who debuted to marvelous reviews in last season’s I Capture The Castle, has great fun as Hermia. Jack Moran and Emily Kunkel, who is making her Shakespeare Theatre debut, are excellent as the other pair of young lovers, Lysander and Helena. Josh Carpenter plays the dual role of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Oberon, the King of the Fairies.
Since this is an all-to-rare event suitable for all family members…we should note that even though children may not understand much of the plot, based on the young people seated near us on Saturday night there were ample stage antics, attractive setting and colorful costumes to keep their attention. In fact, those children who are fans of PBS’ Sesame Streetmay delight in seeing Nitya Vidyasagar,a series regular on Sesame Street. She plays both Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and Titania, Queen of the Fairies.
Playing the rest of the “Rude Mechanicals,” the band of artisans who are rehearsing a special play for the Duke are James Russell as Francis Flute, Connor Carew as Snout, Stewart Schneck as Snug,and Zach Fineblum as Starveling.
The Fairies are played by Katie Van Rensalier, Samantha Blain, Dylan Digel, Travis Johnson, Jennifer Mogbock and Maggie Schweppe. Playing the Lightning Bug Kids are Ben Bollinger, Spencer Hickok, Feven Alemu Negussie, and Ryan Philips.
Cameron Watson‘s creative team for A Midsummer Night’s Dream are costume designer Kara Harmon, lighting designer Tony Galaska and sound designer Steve Beckel. Denise Cardarelli is the production stage manager.
We loved the show, we loved the cast, we loved the costumes, we loved the location…in short… we loved the complete theatre “under-the-stars” experience, including the occasional airplane taking off, and sounds of an exuberant fireworks display nearby.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte said in the program notes; “For the 10th Anniversary of the Outdoor Stage, we knew there was no better choice than A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For a decade, we have delighted family audiences at this truly unique outdoor theatre in this incredibly beautiful setting. We are so grateful to the College of St. Elizabeth, our gracious host, for making it possible for this wonderful, annual 6-week event to occur. This season, we will add new 4:30 p.m. twilight performances to make it possible for audiences that can’t attend in the evening to experience this not-to-be-missed venue.”
Review by Rick Busciglio
A word of thanks for their financial support goes to the Bank of America; “Our longstanding support of The Outdoor Stage reflects our belief that the arts, in all its forms, should be shared with the widest possible audience and leveraged to benefit communities,” said Robert Doherty, Bank of America New Jersey president. “This summertime tradition has allowed countless New Jersey residents and visitors alike access to amazing theatre in a bucolic setting.”
Performances today at 4:30 p.m. and at 8:15 p.m. Tickets range from $27 – $33 for adults; tickets for ages 17 and under are $17. For tickets or more information, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.
Picnicking on the expansive lawn surrounding the theatre is welcomed. Audience members may bring their own food and beverages, or purchase snacks and soft drinks on-site. Patrons are encouraged to bring a blanket or low beach chair. Stadium seats are available for rental for $3.00 while supplies last. Complimentary hand-held fans are provided while supplies last. Seating is general admission.