The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s American Classic Our Town
MADISON, NJ — In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s great dramatic homage to small-town American life and the greater universal experience of life, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents Our Town beginning October 17th and continuing through November 17th at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or by visiting www.ShakespeareNJ.org. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Individual tickets range from $35 to $70; student rush tickets are available 30 minutes prior to curtain for $15.
Our Town was originally produced at The McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey and premiered on Broadway in 1938. The play’s timeless characters and minimal metatheatrical style, a radical choice at the time, garnered immediate critical acclaim including the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Wilder biographer Penelope Niven told National Public Radio (NPR), “There’ve been 70 or more translations of Our Town…if it’s been translated in Poland or Germany or Korea, the cover picture is not Grover’s Corners…it’s a village or a town in that particular country. It’s just vivid, graphic documentation of the universal connection that this play has made.”
As famed playwright Edward Albee wrote, Our Town’s success is not simply due to its simplicity or “its giant Americanness…but because it is a superbly written, gloriously observed, tough, and breathtaking statement of what it is to be alive.” The deceptively simple story of the residents of Grover’s Corners represents a time and place where decency, friendship and wholesome values were the norm – an America untainted by the greed, corruption, pollution, and violence that now darken our horizon. The ordinary citizens of the ordinary town of Grover’s Corners weave an extraordinary and timeless tale about life, love, and mortality.
Our Town cemented Wilder’s reputation as a great American author. Educated at Oberlin, Yale, and Princeton, Wilder rose to literary prominence with his 1927 novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Wilder became a prolific author of novels, short stories, and plays. The 1942 play The Skin Of Our Teeth, starring Tallulah Bankhead, earned Wilder his third Pulitzer, making him the only American author to win Pulitzer Prizes for both drama and fiction. His varied literary career included a foray into cinema. He wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock’s classic Shadow of a Doubt in 1943. Later in life, Wilder revised his early play The Merchant Of Yonkers with a new title The Matchmaker which, in turn, inspired the 1964 hit Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! starring Carol Channing.
Philip Goodwin, in his fourth season with the company, plays the enigmatic Stage Manager. His company credits include A Christmas Carol, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and The Little Foxes.He has appeared on Broadway in Tartuffe, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The School for Scandal and Off-Broadway at The Public, MCC, Atlantic Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and Theater for a New Audience where he received a Drama Desk nomination for the title role in Henry VI. As a company member of the Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, D.C. he received Helen Hayes Awards for Twelfth Night, Timon of Athens, and An Enemy of the People. His film and television credits include The Pink Panther, The Pink Panther 2, Men in Black II, and Law & Order.
In her sixth Shakespeare Theatre production, Nisi Sturgis plays Emily Webb. She has appeared at the Theatre in Trelawny of the Wells, To Kill a Mockingbird, I Capture the Castle, Arms and the Man, and A Streetcar Named Desire. Her Broadway/New York City credits include The 39 Steps, The Pretty Trap, Intimate Apparel, Dsyphoria, and The Less We Talk with Hoi Polloi. Sturgis has the recurring role of June Thompson on Boardwalk Empire.
Jordan Coughtry, who plays George Gibbs, is in his eighth season with The Shakespeare Theatre. An alumnus of Shakespeare LIVE! and the Next Stage Ensemble, Coughtry appeared on the Main Stage in last season’s Trelawny of the Wells and as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, among others. His regional credits include productions at Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Theatreworks, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and The Shakespeare Theatre/RSC.
Malachy Cleary makes his Shakespeare Theatre debut as Doc Gibbs. Cleary has worked at Centerstage, World’s End Theatre, Theatreworks, Olney Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf Theatre, Irish Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Westport Playhouse (with Paul Newman), and Manhattan Theatre Club. On television, he plays Warren Harding on Boardwalk Empire and has appeared on White Collar, The Sopranos, and Rescue Me.
Marion Adler, who plays Mrs. Gibbs, in her third season with The Shakespeare Theatre where she has appeared in The Winter’s Tale, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 1998, her musical Enter the Guardsman, for which she wrote the lyrics, made its American premiere at The Shakespeare Theatre. A native of Canada, Adler’s vast classical theatre experience includes productions at The Stratford Festival and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Shakespeare Theatre veteran James Michael Reilly, in his twenty-first season, portrays Charles Webb. Notable Shakespeare Theatre credits include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, The Comedy of Errors, The Rivals, Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), Arms and the Man, The Tempest on the Main Stage, and That Scoundrel Scapin on the Outdoor Stage. In addition to extensive Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional credits, Reilly has recently appeared on television inBoardwalk Empire, Elementary, Person of Interest, and Louie.
Allison Daugherty returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for her seventh season to play Myrtle Webb. She has appeared on the Main Stage in The Time of Your Life, The Merry Wives of Windsor,Comedy of Errors, Henry IV, Part One, and Macbeth among others. In New York, she has appeared on Broadway in Holiday and An Ideal Husband (directed by Sir Peter Hall) and Off-Broadway inChange, Play with a Penguin, As Bees in Honey Drown and The Country Club.
Mark H. Dold plays Simon Stimson. Dold appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre’s productions ofCymbeline and Amadeus, both directed by Mr. Discher. He has worked extensively on and off-Broadway, notably appearing as C.S. Lewis in Freud’s Last Stand at New World Stages and in The Seagull with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theatre. Regionally, he served as Associate Artist at Barrington Stage Company for eight seasons.
Rounding out the population of Grover’s Corners are Rebecca Davis, Isaac Allen Miller, Jeff Gonzalez, Jake Berger, Glenn Beatty, Eileen Glenn, Terence Gleeson, Joseph Hamel, Justin Waldo, Jean Walker, and Edward McEneaney.
Director Joseph Discher is in his twenty-third season with The Shakespeare Theatre where he has directed Henry IV Part One, To Kill A Mockingbird, Arms and the Man (The Star-Ledger’s Top Ten in 2010), The Grapes of Wrath (The Star-Ledger’s Best Director), Of Mice and Men (The Star-Ledger’sBest Revival of the Year), A Midwinter Night’s Dream, The Fantasticks (The Star-Ledger’s Best Director of a Musical) and Twelfth Night on the Main Stage; That Scoundrel Scapin on the Outdoor Stage; Travels With My Aunt, Much Ado About Nothing and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) on the Other Stage, Romeo and Juliet for Shakespeare LIVE! and Brecht’s The Visions of Simone Machard for the Next Stage Ensemble. He has appeared at The Shakespeare Theatre as an actor in Blood & Roses and As You Like It on the Main Stage and in The Grouch on the Outdoor Stage. Most recently, Mr. Discher directed John Logan’s Red at Theatreworks in Colorado Springs and will return to direct Conor McPherson’s The Weir this January. Other recent work includes directingMacbeth for the Stella Adler Conservatory in Manhattan, performing the role of Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Rome and Milan and playing Pisanio in the Theatreworks production ofCymbeline.
The Artistic Staff
Creating the world of Our Town are set designer Charlie Calvert, costume designer Candida Nichols, lighting designer Matthew Adelson. Dee Dee Katchen serves as production stage manager.
Single tickets for Our Town are now on sale and range from $35 to $70. Student Rush tickets are available a half-hour before curtain for $15 with a valid student ID. For tickets, call the box office at 973-408-5600, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discount preview performances for Our Town are Thursday, October 17th, Friday, October 18th at 8 p.m., and Saturday, October 19th at 2 p.m. These Preview performances offer opportunities for reduced-priced tickets while enjoying the excitement of the very first performances in front of an audience. As always, the first Preview performance is Pay What You Can night. Visit The Shakespeare Theatre Box Office between noon and curtain on October 17th and purchase a ticket for that evening’s 7:30 p.m. preview performance for what you are able to pay (offer subject to availability).
For no more than the cost of a regular ticket, three Symposium Series performances are offered for each show and include a post-play discussion with the cast and artistic staff. Symposium performances for Our Town will be Tuesday, October 22nd at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 26thand November 2nd at 2 p.m.
For each production, The Shakespeare Theatre presents the popular education program Know the Show. From 7:00 to 7:30 p.m., an artist from The Shakespeare Theatre will present a pre-performance talk that provides background information and an insider’s perspective on the production. The Know the Show performance will be held on October 24th at 7:00 p.m. General admission is $5 for the general public, $4 for ticket package holders and subscribers. Tickets to that evening’s 8:00 p.m. performance may be purchased separately.
The 2:00 p.m. performance on November 2nd will be audio described for those who are blind or have visual impairments. Audio description enables patrons with visual impairments to hear, through an FM transmitter, a live description of the action on the stage. A pre-performance sensory seminar is offered that allows patrons to feel props, costumes and set pieces to further enhance their live theatrical experience. The service is offered free of charge.
An exclusive open-captioned performance will be offered Sunday, November 10th at 2 p.m.Captioning will be provided by c2 (caption coalition) inc, a 501(c)(3) non-profit company which utilizes Live Performance Captioning (sm) for Hard of Hearing and Deaf patrons at live theatrical and cultural events. For tickets or for more information, call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org
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. Contact the theatre for more information. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.
The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is an independent, professional theatre company located on the Drew University campus. One of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually, it is New Jersey’s largest professional theatre company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world classics. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics for contemporary audiences.
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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, the F. M. Kirby Foundation, The Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Shubert Foundation and Drew University, as well as contributions from numerous corporations, foundations, government agencies and individuals. The 2013 Outdoor Stage production of As You Like It is sponsored by Bank of America.