(FLORHAM PARK, NJ and HOLMDEL, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) is excited to announce that there will be a number of opportunities for audiences to enjoy its renowned Shakespeare LIVE! company perform in-person at the end of April.
STNJ will be re-opening its Back Yard Stage in Florham Park, an outdoor venue that was created last summer by STNJ and designed to accommodate COVID safety precautions. Shakespeare’s perennial favorite, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the very timely Julius Caesar will be performed in 70-minute long, abridged versions – perfect for both young audiences and adults. On both Saturday, April 24th and on Sunday, April 25th, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will perform at 11:00 a.m. and later in the afternoon, at 2:00 p.m. on each of those days, Julius Caesar will hit the stage. Both productions are part of STNJ’s “Short Shakespeare” series, presented for audiences each spring. There are rain dates reserved for the following week, and public performances are also scheduled for May 1st and 2nd, again with Midsummer performing at 11:00 a.m. and Julius Caesar at 2:00 p.m. These “Short Shakespeare” performances are an annual favorite for STNJ audiences, and the chance to experience live theatre again is an added bonus. Tickets are on sale through the STNJ Box Office, at 973-408-5600. Tickets are only $20 for adults and children under 17 can attend for free.
Concurrent with these performances, the Shakespeare LIVE! company will travel down to Bell Works in Holmdel, to participate in the Axelrod Performing Arts Center’s “The Bard at Bell Works” festival, just in time for Shakespeare’s 457th birthday. In addition to STNJ’s Shakespeare LIVE! shows, the festival will feature performances by the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT), and the students of the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy (APAA). Since January last year, AXCBT and APAA have shared a studio at Bell Works, under the direction of Gabriel Chajnik, a Julliard-trained dancer and choreographer.
“We are delighted to be sharing live theater at Bell Works, bringing together two professional companies and dozens of amazingly talented young apprentices, all discovering the sheer genius of Shakespeare together,” said APAA Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco. “The Bard at Bell Works” will run three weekends, beginning performances on April 11 and concluding on April 25. The festival includes three iterations of Shakespeare’s most celebrated comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the abridged version of the original play performed by the Shakespeare LIVE! touring company of STNJ; a reimagining of the ballet, choreographed by Chajnik danced by the professional members of AXCBT; and finally a free screening of the 1935 Max Reinhart film starring Mickey Rooney. Festival-goers can also sample Shakespeare-inspired food created by Bell Market, daily pop-up performances, and short educational talk-backs regarding all things Shakespeare. Seating is limited, due to social distancing requirements, so reservations are strongly encouraged.
For the complete schedule and tickets/passes for “The Bard at Bell Works”, go to www.AxelrodArtsCenter.com. Tickets are offered for individual shows, multiple shows, and as a complete Festival package! Bell Works is located at 101 Crawfords Corner Rd in Holmdel.
“Nothing says spring quite like the return to vibrant outdoor productions, and what better play for this time of year than the Bard’s raucous and funny A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Brian B. Crowe, Director of Education at STNJ. “We are thrilled to be part of Axelrod’s “Bard at Bell Works” festival and to also present performances for families in our picturesque Back Yard Stage conveniently located in Florham Park.”
These performances are presented as part of the New Jersey Theater Alliance’s (NJTA) annual STAGES Festival. The Stages Festival is a state-wide spring festival of free and low-cost theatre events for all ages. The Stages Festival is designed to showcase the diversity and excellence of New Jersey theatre, to break down barriers of cost and access, and to introduce new audiences to the work of NJTA member theatres.
STNJ’s LIVE! company includes Jeffrey Marc Alkins, Dino Curia, Christian Frost, Ellie Gossage, Isaac Hickox-Young, Katie Langham, Skye Pagon, Billie Wyatt, and Katja Yacker. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by Brian B. Crowe with costumes by Natalie Loveland and scenic design by Meri Lawson. AC Horton directed Julius Caesar with scenic design by Brian B. Crowe and Steven Beckel, and costumes by Rachel Moore.
The Shakespeare Theatre will be announcing more upcoming productions at their Back Yard Stage within a few weeks.
Schedule for STNJ’s Shakespeare Live! performances in April:
Friday, April 16 at 7:30 pm MIDSUMMER Axelrod Arts Center @ BellWorks
Sunday, April 18 at 12:30 pm MIDSUMMER Axelrod Arts Center @ BellWorks
Friday, April 23 at 7:30 pm MIDSUMMER Axelrod Arts Center @ BellWorks
Saturday, April 24 at 11:00 am MIDSUMMER STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Saturday, April 24 at 2:00 pm JULIUS CAESAR STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Sunday, April 25 at 11:00 am MIDSUMMER STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Sunday, April 25 at 2:00 pm JULIUS CAESAR STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Saturday, May 1 at 11:00 am MIDSUMMER STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Saturday, May 1 at 2:00 pm JULIUS CAESAR STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Sunday, May 2 at 11:00 am MIDSUMMER STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
Sunday, May 2 at 2:00 pm JULIUS CAESAR STNJ’s Back Yard Stage in Florham Park
April 27 – May 2 will provide rain-dates as needed and possible added school and public performances.
For more information on any and all Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey performances, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit ShakespeareNJ.org.
PHOTOS: (LEFT) From left to right: Ellie Gossage as Titania and Christian Frost as a Fairy. (RIGHT) Pictured, from left to right: Dino Curia as Starveling, Isaac Hickox-Young as Flute, Billie Wyatt as Snug, and Skye Pagon as Peter Quince. Photos by Avery Brunkus