(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) continues its 54th season with what is considered to be Eugene Ionesco’s crowning masterpiece, Exit the King. Performances begin August 10 and continue through August 28 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. Tickets and subscriptions can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or going online at shakespearenj.org.
This compelling tragi-comedy captures King Berenger in the last hours of his life as his centuries-long reign is coming to an end. Played in real time, the production is only 90 minutes long with no intermission and will feature a talk-back after almost every performance by director Bonnie J. Monte and members of the cast.
As the third piece in Ionesco’s “Berenger Cycle,” Exit the King stands out in the playwright’s canon, as his most accessible and universal play. It has been labeled in many ways: an allegory, a dark comedy, a death ritual, a tragic farce, an absurdist lyric poem, a hymn of praise and moving celebration of life. This moving tale speaks differently to each and every audience member, as it did when it was last performed on Broadway in 2009, 42 years after its American debut in 1967.
Brent Harris returns for his fifth season as Berenger the First, the King. Recent company credits include The Guardsman, The Alchemist, and his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He has also appeared in the national tours of The Lion King (Scar) and The Screwtape Letters (Screwtape). Mr. Harris is the recipient of the Drammy Award for Outstanding Leading Actor for his performance in The Beard of Avon.
Marion Adler returns for her fifth season with The Shakespeare Theatre in the role of Queen Marguerite. Company credits include Much Ado About Nothing, The Learned Ladies, Our Town, The Winter’s Tale, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as the musical Enter the Guardsman for which she wrote the lyrics. She is also the writer of Gunmetal Blues, a musical in which she starred as The Blonde in the Off-Broadway production.
Jon Barker, who will be returning for his ninth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, will play the role of the Guard. He was most recently seen this season on The Theatre’s Outdoor Stage in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (revised). Other company credits include: The Guardsman, The Alchemist, The Tempest, Pericles, Tovarich, Trelawney of the Wells, Henry IV, and many more.
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Kristie Dale Sanders plays Juliette, the maid. Now in her tenth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, she was last seen at STNJ in The Merry Wives of Windsor and has also appeared in Pericles, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The School for Wives, King Lear, Measure for Measure, The Rivals, Illyria and The Threepenny Opera. Her Broadway credits include Cabaret, Evita, Next Fall, The Phantom of the Opera, Urinetown and The Sound of Music.
In his Shakespeare Theatre debut, Greg Watanabe will play The Doctor. He recently made his Broadway debut in Allegiance starring George Takei and Lea Salonga. Regional credits include: the world premiere productions of The Summer Moon (A Contemporary Theater), The Happy Ones (South Coast Repertory Theatre, L.A. Drama Critics Circle nomination, Best Featured Performance), and Extraordinary Chambers (Geffen Playhouse, Ovation nomination, Best Featured Actor).
Returning for her second season, Jesmille Darbouze will play the role of Queen Marie. She was last seen at STNJ in Love’s Labour’s Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a collaboration with The Shakespeare Theatre and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Darbouze’s television and film credits include Mysteries of Laura, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, and No Pay, Nudity opposite Gabrielle Byrne.
Bonnie J. Monte is in her twenty-sixth season with the Theatre, most recently directing last season’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Guardsman. Ms. Monte serves as the Artistic Director at the Shakespeare Theatre; under her leadership, the Theatre has evolved into one of the most respected classical theatres in the nation. Ms. Monte has created a number of original translations/adaptations for the company, including Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Servant of Two Masters (published by Playscripts, Inc.), and The Alchemist. Prior to arriving in New Jersey, Ms. Monte was a casting director at the prestigious Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City. From 1981 to 1989, she was the Associate Artistic Director at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, working closely with the late Nikos Psacharopoulous and many of the nation’s most notable theatre artists including Tennessee Williams.
The Artistic Staff:
The show’s visual elements will be brought to life through the work of set designer Brittany Vasta, lighting designer Tony Galaska, costume designer Hugh Hanson, and sound designer Karin Graybash. Serving as production stage manager is Christine Whalen.
Single tickets for Exit the King start as low as $25 for preview performances and $32 for regular performances. Prices range from $25 - $75. This season, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is initiating their 30 UNDER 30 Program, which offers tickets for $30 for patrons aged 30 and under, with valid ID, tickets subject to availability. For tickets, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.
For the same price as a regular ticket, the Symposium Series performances offer a post-show discussion with the cast and artistic staff. For Exit the King, symposiums will be offered after each and every performance starting on August 14.
The Know the Show pre-show talks are offered again in 2016 free-of-cost. Prior to the show, an artist from The Shakespeare Theatre presents a pre-performance talk providing background information and an inside perspective on the production. This program is free with the purchase of a performance ticket, and for Exit the King will be held Thursday, August 18 at 7:00 p.m., with the show commencing at 8:00 p.m. Ms. Monte will present this talk.
ABOUT THE THEATRE
The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. The Outdoor Stage is located on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth and the Theatre’s support and education facility is in Florham Park.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s programs are made possible, in part, by funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional major support is received from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, The Edward T. Cone Foundation, Bank of America, The Samuel H. Scripps Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and CTW Foundation, as well as contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, government agencies and individuals.