New Jersey Stage

Friday, November 11, 2011

Exciting Adaptation of A Christmas Carol on Stage at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

(MADISON, NJ) -– The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey concludes its 49th season with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted for the stage by Neil Bartlett. This unique and ingenious production features a cast of nine actors playing more than 50 roles, including some of literature's most beloved characters. Shakespeare Theatre's Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs.  "When I came across this wonderful new adaption, it made my director's pulse quicken.  It's a director's dream with its infinite opportunities for inventiveness," said Ms. Monte.  Performances begin on December 1 and continue through January 1.   Performances are Tuesday through Sundays at The Shakespeare Theatre's Main Stage – the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. For tickets or more information, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.  

Bartlett's unusual adaptation finds the mean-spirited miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Shakespeare Theatre veteran Philip Goodwin) alone and unloved in his cold house on Christmas Eve. Mired in his irascible and rigid ways, his very name synonymous with greed and misanthropy, Scrooge's last chance for redemption lies in the spectral hands of his dead business partner and three holiday spirits.  Originally created for the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in England, Bartlett's A Christmas Carol contains only Dickens' own words.  "I wanted to do it using Dickens' words, and nothing but," wrote Bartlett.  "Dickens himself prompted this decision; after all, he wrote the story not just to be read, but to be read out loud for an audience.   His words don't describe; they enact."    In addition, Bartlett has included spoken and sung Victorian carols delivered a cappella throughout the play.

Adaptor Neil Bartlett is a famed British playwright, award-winning novelist, Olivier Award-nominated director and the former artistic director of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in London.  He is the author of the novel The House on Brooke Street and has published adaptations of The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, and Oliver Twist, which received rave reviews in its American premiere in Boston, New York and San Francisco.   About his production of A Christmas Carol at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, The Guardian wrote, "This is one of those rare and festive offerings for which no adult will need the excuse of a child in tow to book a ticket." 

Philip Goodwin returns to the Shakespeare Theatre stage for his second season to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Mr. Goodwin appeared earlier this season as Inspector Bertozzo in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and previously performed in The Little Foxes. He has appeared on Broadway in Tartuffe, The Diary of Anne Frank, and The School for Scandal, and Off-Broadway in King Lear, Pericles, Macbeth, and Hamlet (The Public); Grace (MCC); The Room/Celebration (Atlantic Theatre Company); Drowning (Signature Theatre); The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (New York Theatre Workshop) and numerous productions at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC.

John Ahlin (Mr. Fezziwig) is in his fourth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, having previously appeared in All's Well That Ends Well, The Comedy of Errors, and King John. Ahlin has appeared on Broadway in Waiting for Godot, Journey's End, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo' Time, Whoopee!, and Macbeth. Mr. Ahlin has also performed at TheatreWorks, Pittsburgh Public, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Old Globe Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Center Stage, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

In his thirteenth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, Greg Jackson (Bob Cratchit) has performed in Timon of Athens, The School for Wives, The Winter's Tale, Amadeus, The Comedy of Errors, The Bald Soprano, The Play's the Thing, Triumph of Love, Love's Labour's Lost, Othello, and many more. He most recently performed the role of Alan in Opus at Portland Center Stage, and the roles of Richard Hannay, Man 1, and Man 2 as the sole male understudy in the Broadway transfer of The 39 Steps.

In his ninth season with the company, Ames Adamson adds The Ghost of Christmas Past to his Shakespeare Theatre credits, which include Timon of Athens, Hamlet, King Lear, A Christmas Carol, Henry V, Merry Wives of Windsor, Illyria, Love's Labours Lost, King John, and Arms and the Man.

Erin Partin (Belinda) is in her tenth season with The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, having previously played in The School for Wives, The Cherry Orchard, Les Liasons Dangereuses, A Midwinter Night's Dream, The Crucible, Love's Labours Lost, A Child's Christmas in Wales, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, The Grouch, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and Midsummer Night's Dream.

A veteran of four seasons with The Shakespeare Theatre, Tina Stafford (Mrs. Cratchit) has previously appeared in A Christmas Carol, Carnival!, and A Child's Christmas in Wales. Ms. Stafford has also appeared in York Theatre's Musicals in MUFTI series, The Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, TOTS (Houston) and TUTS (Atlanta), La Jolla Playhouse, Utah Shakespearean Festival, The Denver Center, and many others.

Clark Carmichael, now in his ninth season with the Theatre, plays Ebenezer Scrooge's cheerful nephew Fred and as the younger Scrooge. His previous shows at The Shakespeare Theatre include All's Well That Ends Well, Henry VI, As You Like It, That Scoundrel Scapin,  The Tempest, Carnival!, Two Gentlemen of Verona (The Musical), and many others. Clark has appeared on Broadway in Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, and has appeared at the Red Bull Theatre, The Culture Club, Two River Theatre Company, Missouri Repertory Theatre, NY Fringe Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and many others.

Blake Pfeil makes his Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey debut as Tiny Tim. His most recent credits include a year as a company member/resident composer of the Gyeonggi English Village in South Korea, and Huntington Theatre Company, Theatreworks Colorado, Company One, New Repertory Theatre, and Rehearsing a Dream (HBO). Mr. Pfeil is the host of Standing Room Only (WERS, 88.9 FM, Boston).


Susan Maris (Fred's Wife) is in her third season with the company. Previous work with the Shakespeare Theatre includes The Grapes of Wrath, The Servant of Two Masters, Othello, and Shakespeare LIVE! Ms. Maris has worked with Manhattan Theatre Source, Toy Box Theatre Company, and Prospect Theatre Company, along with appearing on screen in She Gave Me Water and Limitless.



About the Director

2011 marks director Bonnie J. Monte's twenty-first season as artistic director of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.  Since 1990, she has directed 47 productions for the company, including this season's productions of The Misanthrope and Othello, No Man's Land, The Taming of the Shrew, The Misanthrope, and Hamlet.  Her many adaptations of classic works, including Enrico IV, The Cherry Orchard and Pride and Prejudice have earned her critical acclaim.  Her adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters was recently published by Playscripts, Inc.


Special Performances

Preview performances for A Christmas Carol are December 1 & 2 at 8:00pm, and December 3 at 2 pm. 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 December 1st and purchase a ticket for what you are able to pay for that evening's 8:00pm preview performance (offer subject to availability).  Pay What You Can is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Stone & Magnanini LLP/Smart Family Foundation, an independent family foundation.

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 A Christmas Carol will be December 6th at 7:30 PM and December 10th& 17th at 2:00 PM

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.  Know the Show will be held on December 8th at 7:00 p.m.  General admission is $5 for the general public, $4 for ticket package holders. Tickets to that evening's 8:00 p.m. performance may be purchased separately.