Over our many seasons of entertaining, challenging productions, Tri-State has presented
inventive, thought provoking stagings of Shakespeare’s work.   The words this great playwright
wrote were never altered in our productions, but it has always been our mission to make these works
accessible to our audiences who may or may not have been familiar with Shakespeare’s plays.
The three works we chose to present so far are the plays we felt would be most familiar to our
modern audience: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,  TWELFTH NIGHT and ROMEO AND JULIET.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by  William Shakespeare
The Cast:
Theseus/Oberon/MARK LIGHT-ORR*, Lysander/DAVID SOCHET*, Hippolyta/Titania/SUZANNE HAYS*, Peter Quince/Cobweb/BRIAN MASLOW*, Philostrate/Robin Goodfellow/MICHAEL NATHANSON*, Bottom the Weaver/DAVID VOLIN*, Egeus, Father of Hermia/JAMES OPFER, Snug, the Joiner/1st Fairy/ERIC EMMANUEL WILSON, Hermia/JENNIFER KLEIN, Robin Starveling, the Tailor/Peaseblossom/JOE LI TRENTA, Demetrius/WAYNE HU, Tom Snout, the Tinker/DANIEL MINTZ, Helena/FELICIA BERTCH, Francis Flute, the Bellows Mender/KEVIN SNYDER (*Denotes member, Actors Equity Association)

midsummerWebpicsA Denotes meMIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, written a few years before TWELFTH NIGHT, 1595-1596, is a
romantic comedy. and one of the few plays Shakespeare wrote using his own imagination and experience without the help of other sources.  It is a play about the power of love of ordinary people transformed by magic, illusion, and enchantment. When each of us falls in love we all transform any ordinary mortal, the object of our love into a rarity of beauty and perfection. the character come from every class in his world–the mechanics(the blue collars of the Elizabethan age), the aristocracy, and then from the fantastic world of  fairies, and the mysterious forest of the writer’s imagination.

To convey this wonderful tale of mistaken identity in love to our modern audience, and to help make the play real for us, I chose the cast from many different kinds of actors–persons of various faiths and ethnicities and backgrounds, who would create this world of ordinary mortals and the supernatural world of Shakespeare’s forest. Our set conveyed both the fantastic world of the fairyland forest and the  world of ancient Athens. Our costumes were designed to suggest both the modern and ancient world.

TWELFTH NIGHT, BY William Shakespeare
The Cast :
Orsino, the Count/ANDREW DANISH, Sir Toby Belch, Drunken Uncle/CRAIG DUDLEY*, Curio, serves the Count/JASON SHANE, Maria, servant in love with Toby/JENELLE SOSA, Valentine, serves the Count/BEN SCHAUB, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Naive suitor/BILLY EDWARDS*, Viola, ship wrecked in Illyria/CELIA MONTGOMERY*, Feste, Olivia’s Fool/CLARK GOOKIN, Sea Captain/TED O’DELL, Olivia, a bereaved young lady/KATIE TAME*, Sebastian,ship wrecked in Illyria..FREEMAN BORDEN Malvolio, a puritanical butler/KEVIN SHINNICK*, Antonio, Pirate/DANIEL MIAN, Priest/TED ODELL ( *Denotes member, Actors’ Equity Assocation, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers )

12THNightCollageWebpic5x7TWELFTH NIGHT, or WHAT YOU WILL , a comedy, was written sometime between 1599-1601, during
the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth. It is named for a holiday, and is festive, but it also suggest madness,  despair, sexual ambiguity, and cruelty.  It takes place in the mythical kingdom by the sea, Illyria, whose  inhabitants seem to be on a constant vacation. They listen to sad songs, fall in love, play jokes on each other,  drink too much. No one works, not even the servants.

In order to make this play full of laughter and sadness accessible in the 21st century to Americans in New Jersy,  I placed Illyria not in the 16th century or in Shakespeare’s England, but in the America of 1910, outside of New Orleans  in a famous summer vacation spot known as Grand Isle. While every character in the play is well-formed, the main story  revolves around two young, attractive women–Olivia and Viola.  Our set centered on Olivia’s 1910 vine coved villa  and the surrounding island. We moved most of the scenes outside using the garden and veranda in this hot southern climate. The costumes are of the 1910 period with Viola in men’s clothes (she disguises herself.) Olivia is in black and veiled during he early scenes, mourning the loss of her late brother, but disperses with mourning garb when she falls lustily in loves with Viola, who she believes is a poetically inclined young man. With plots of mistaken identity and cruel jokes played on various characters, TWELFTH NIGHT is both a delightful comedy and a revelation of the dark nature underneath.

ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare
The Cast :Chorus/Prince of Verona/ED ODELL, Lord Montague/PAUL TRACY, Peter/Watchman1/JAMES LUDLUM, Romeo Montague/JOHN HASTIE, Abram/Friar John/Watchman2/CONNOR LYNCH, SAM PARROTT, Balthazar/JON DRAGON, Nurse to Juliet/MARY ANN HAY*,Benvolio/Apothecary/PATRICK MCANDREW, Juliet/LAUREN DEVORE, Tybalt/KEVIN SEBASTIAN, Mercutio/JONATHAN HOLTZMAN*, Lord Capulet/ROBERT HEFLEY*, Rosaline/NICOLE PRIMO, Lady Capulet/JENELLE SOSA, Livia/CATHERINE KEDALA, Friar Lawrence/IAN HEITZMAN ( *Denotes member, Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers )

RJWEBPICROMEO AND JULIET,  written between 1593 to 1596 during the same period as MIDSUMMER,  is Shakespeare’s only Romantic  tragedy. The deaths of the title characters unlike almost every other  Shakespearean tragedy, are not  caused by themselves, but by the actions of their families. It is a story  where everything happens quickly:  Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love, grow up, and die in less than  5 days; it is a hot house of a story, full of brawls,  family feuds, and ancient animosities. It is a tragedy of two teenagers–Romeo, around 16 and Juliet only 13, who  fall furiously in love, and die through no  fault of heir own. It is a play full of obscenity, sexual desire, and hate, yet overflowing with pure passion and deep love.  The two teenagers are “star-crossed” who love each other at a fateful time, when missed  chances, poor timing, accidents, mistakes, and a failed older generation  lead to their deaths. It is a play  of many moods–delicate, intense, sometimes obscene, sometimes funny,  always heart-breaking.

As a play revolving around the young love of two teenagers ROMEO AND JULIET requires very careful
casting.  A number of the cast must be young enough to emotionally “reach” into their characters, and
act the very real emotional love and other things they feel for each other. The audience must believe them
to be teens, not adults playing teens. In our production, I chose to cast the two young lovers and other
youthful characters as true to the characters’ ages as possible. With teen actors playing teenagers, our
cast was able to  create a deeply felt version of R&J that reached our audience with a truth and emotion
developed  in part from the reality of being young and feeling love, hate, loss, fear, and the other
emotions every young person has experienced.