A scene from Snug – From the left: Dino Curia, Kirby Davis, Rupert Spraul, Anthony Paglia, Billie Wyatt, and Isaac Hickox-Young. Photo by Avery Brunkus
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) returns to their outdoor summer home this month. Since 2002, STNJ has performed in the outdoor Greek-style amphitheater on the campus of St. Elizabeth University with one exception: 2020 when the CoVid pandemic restrictions prevented its use. But now they are back with two glorious productions available until Aug. 1. Running are Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and a new play, Snug, written by Bonnie Monte. Both are comedies and both shows are appropriate for all ages.
Brian B. Crowe directs Comedy of Errors. On alternate nights Snug, directed by Ms. Monte, is on.
For this article, I will cover Snug.
Background on Snug: Bonnie J. Monte wrote Snug this past spring. Ms. Monte, who serves as the Artistic Director of Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, was inspired to write Snug based upon two sources of inspiration. These sources were Mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the company of actors who do the shows.
Mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream provide the comical moments in that play. Characters such as Bottom and Snug are names from that group. Regarding the inspiration from company of actors, this group who performs have been isolated with STNJ’s “skeletal pandemic staff” since the start of the CoVid shut-down. Ms. Monte found over the course of the past 14 months that she was able to get to know them very well. She says, “Their unstoppable energy, good hearts, earnest desire to create art in the middle of the pandemic ‘desert’ as well as their often delightful hijinks, made me want to write a play about them in the guise of the characters they played for us in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
In a way, this development of the play is big thank you to this company of actors for all they did for the STNJ during CoVid. This is a nice salute to this inspiring group.
The Story of Snug
Snug is about an acting troop who decide to enter a contest sponsored by a local Duke. The prize money will help all of them out if they win. The quest to find and develop the right play takes place in the first part of the show. Quince (Kirby Davis) serves as a company manager who takes on the job. But there are things to consider in the selection such as the preferences of the actors. Bottom (Rupert Spraul) wants a play where he can portray a tyrant. He is very confident about his ability to fill this role. He’s also very funny in his pronouncements about himself. “I am an artist,” he declares and he only wants to to do that work. He later declares “We artists are very delicate souls; we need encouragement,” when the rehearsals get difficult.
Snug is another player who has a definite idea of what she wants to do. She only wants to build the set. But they need her to be a lion and roar. That seems quite out of the question as Snug is very shy, quiet, and quite unable to roar. But one evening, she drifts into a sleep when a fairy enters the room. The fairy decides to help her roar loudly and sets out to create a potion to do that.
Rehearsals continue and finally the day of the big show arrives. The performance of the play is cleverly staged so that we see the backs of the players but hear parts of the play. Secretly, the fairy enters and pours the needed magic potion for Snug. After a few comical mishaps, the moment of the big roar arrives, and Snug pulls it off very well. What happens to the acting troop and the contest? You will have to go to see for yourself. And you will also see the post play within a play events which give everyone involved a happy ending.
Snug is a light-hearted play perfect for an outdoor theater event this summer. Maybe we are all looking for a little magic to come back into our lives. This play is a good way to bring in some. It is also a terrific way to bring in some good comedy with laughs for all.
Cast and Creatives
As mentioned above, the cast has a unique history as they have quarantined together since the beginning of CoVid. Their synergy is evident. The ensemble cast includes Jeffrey Marc Alkins, Marcella Cox, Dino Curia, and Kirby Davis. Also included are Ellie Gossage, Karl Hawkins, Isaac Hickox-Young, Anthony Paglia, Rupert Spraul, Billie Wyatt, and Katja Yacker.
Baron Pugh is the Scenic Designer for both shows, and Jason Flamos returns to STNJ as the Lighting Designer for both productions. Paul Canada returns for his 12th season as Costume Designer for Comedy of Errors. Andrew Yoder makes his professional debut with STNJ as Sound Designer for Comedy of Errors. Ms. Monte is the Costume and Sound Designer for Snug.
Good News About Tickets
The Beacon Trust and Provident Bank have partnered together to ensure the continuance of the Free Tickets for Kids program for The Outdoor Stage.
In addition to the free tickets for those under 17, STNJ offers its $30 Under 30 ticket price for adults 30 and under. All other adult tickets will be $40 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday evenings. Adult tickets for Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and the 5:00 p.m. Sunday Twilight Performances are $45.
All performances other than the 5:00 p.m. Sunday Twilight Shows will begin at 8:00 p.m.
For more information about The Shakespeare Theatre’s Outdoor Stage performances, please call the Box Office at (973) 408-5600, or log onto www.shakespeareNJ.org.
About CoVid Protocols
The following comes directly from Shakespeare Theatre New Jersey concerning their adherence to CoVid compliance. Address additional questions about these policies to Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
“While STNJ will re-open its Outdoor Stage in compliance with all CDC and NJ State COVID-19 recommendations and requirements, those guidelines are now almost fully-relaxed, which will make this year’s Outdoor Stage experience one that feels essentially back-to-normal. As of now, people who are vaccinated do not need to wear masks at outdoor events unless they wish to do so. Those who are not vaccinated must wear masks, and must socially distance themselves, though STNJ urges those who are not vaccinated to either get their shots or to avoid live events. The company recognizes that some individuals cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and that they must wear masks for their own protection. The Theatre’s website provides more information regarding its COVID-19 precautionary measures and other FAQ’s related to the pandemic.”