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Exciting Adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Classic 'Oliver Twist' Makes its New Jersey Debut at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will launch the Fall portion of its 50th Anniversary Season with the critically acclaimed stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist by British playwright, author, and director, Neil Bartlett.   The production begins on September 12, with several discounted Preview performances, and continues through Oct. 7 at The Shakespeare Theatre’s Main Stage - the intimate F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre.  Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings, and Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.  Tickets range from $32 to $70.  Student rush tickets are available for $10.  For tickets or for more information, call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org. The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is located at 36 Madison Avenue (at Lancaster Road), in Madison.

Using only Dickens’ words, and featuring an ensemble of 13 esteemed actors who play more than 30 roles, the visceral landscape of Victorian England’s dark and dangerous underworld comes to vivid life in this dynamic vision of the classic novel.  

In the review of the premiere of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist in London, the Telegraph said, “Bartlett and his collaborators have rescued Oliver Twist from the sanitised (though enjoyable) Lionel Bart musical, and captured Dickens in all his dark, gaudy glory.  A great novel has been transformed into truly stunning theatre.”

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In addition to writing Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist for the stage, award-winning writer Neil Bartlett has also adapted works by Marivaux and Moliere, as well as Dickens’ Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol.  In all of his adaptations, Barlett only uses text from the original source material. 

About Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Bartlett wrote “the first decision taken was that the adaptation would be made out of Dickens’ original language and nothing but. Indeed, the extraordinary energy and volatility, the sadistic black comedy and sheer dramatic guts of Dickens’ actual sentences are the raisons d’etre of this piece.  I wanted the show to be as alarming, compelling and as wickedly comic as Dickens’ words are.” 

The Cast

Longtime company member Ames Adamson plays Fagin. Adamson has appeared in Shakespeare Theatre productions of A Christmas Carol, Timon of Athens, Hamlet, King Lear, Henry V, Arms and the Man, and Illyria, among many others.  He has also appeared at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and in Macbeth at the Wilma Theatre. 

The brutal thief Bill Sikes is played by Jeffrey M. Bender. Bender is returning to the Shakespeare Theatre for his 13th Season having appeared  in Henry IV, Part One, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Rivals, Life of Galileo, The Servant of Two Masters and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), among many others.   He has also worked at the Denver Center Theatre, Arena Stage, The Old Globe and Seattle Rep.  

Corey Tazmania plays Nancy, the soft-hearted but doomed anti-heroine of the piece. Tazmania, in her fifth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, has appeared in The Tempest and Macbeth on the Main Stage as well as on the Outdoor Stage and with the educational touring company Shakespeare LIVE!  She recently appeared in I Will Come Like a Thief at the 78th Street Theatre Lab, Les Conquerantes at the ACT French Festival at 59E59 and Neil Genzlinger’s adaptation of The Last Detail.  She has also appeared at Theatre Rhinoceros, the Magic Theatre, and New Jersey Repertory Theatre. 

Quentin McCuiston returns for his second season at The Shakespeare Theatre to play the orphan Oliver Twist.  He previously appeared in Timon of Athens on the Main Stage and in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Shakespeare LIVE! educational touring company.  His New York credits include Chains of Dew at the Zephyr Repertory Theatre.  He has also appeared in Romeo and Juliet at the Carolinian Shakespeare Festival and at the Red Clay Theatre.  

Robbie Collier Sublett, in his fourth season at the Shakespeare Theatre, plays the Artful Dodger.  Sublett has previously appeared in The Cherry Orchard and Life of Galileo on the Main Stage and with The Shakespeare LIVE! touring company.  On Broadway, he appeared in Other Desert Cities at Lincoln Center.  His off-Broadway credits include You Better Sit Down: tales from my parents’ divorce at The Flea, American River at Theatre for A New City, and Adventures in Reality, with Michael Friedman, at American Songbook at Lincoln Center.  He has also appeared with Mabou Mines, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and Chicago Shakespeare.  His play, You Better Sit Down…, will be published by Dramatists Play Service this Fall.  

Returning to the Shakespeare Theatre after 10 years is Andrew Boyer who plays Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker.   Boyer has appeared  on Broadway in Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone, and the Music Man, directed by Susan Stroman.  He has also appeared in King Lear at The Roundabout Theatre, in the national tour of Beauty and the Beast, and in The Odd Couple with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.  

Tina Stafford plays Mrs. Corney, matron of the workhouse.  Stafford is in her fifth season with The Shakespeare Theatre where she has appeared in A Christmas Carol, Carnival and A Child’s Christmas in Wales.  She has also appeared at Arena Stage, Westport Country Playhouse and York Theatre Company among many others. 

Eric Hoffman plays Mr. Bumble.  Hoffman is in his eighth season with The Theatre where he has appeared in Timon of Athens, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Love’s Labour’s Lost among others.  He spent three seasons at the Old Globe Theatre and also spent three years touring Europe and Asia playing Officer Krupke in the 50th Anniversary world tour of West Side Story

The benevolent gentleman Mr. Brownlow is played by John Little who returns for his fifth season with The Shakespeare Theatre.  Earlier this summer he appeared in Henry IV, Part One.  He has also appeared in The Grapes of Wrath, Amadeus, The Play’s the Thing and The Merry Wives of Windsor.  He has also appeared at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, and off- Broadway in Christopher Columbus, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream among others.   

Andy Paterson plays the thief Charley Bates.  Returning for his ninth season, Paterson has appeared in Shakespeare Theatre productions of Twelfth Night, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Pericles and The Blue Bird among many more.  He has also appeared in productions at theatres throughout the country including Arizona Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre Center and Indiana Repertory Theatre.   

Also in the cast are George Abud, David A. Laws, and Meg Kiley Smith.

The Director

Brian B. Crowe is in his seventeenth season with The Shakespeare Theatre where he is currently the Director of Education.  His directing credits include Timon of Athens, The School for Wives, The Winter’s Tale, Henry VI: Blood & Roses, Julius Caesar, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Tempest (2002) and The Comedy of Errors (2001) on the Main Stage, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2007) and The Taming of the Shrew (2006) on the Outdoor Stage and the 1999 world premiere of his original script, Wonderland (...And What Was Found There) on the Other Stage. The Star-Ledger called Mr. Crowe “one of the state’s most ingenious directors” for his work on Love’s Labour’s Lost and named him Best Director of a Drama (Julius Caesar and Wonderland). He has also directed over twenty Shakespeare LIVE! touring productions including Nevermore, his original piece based on the writings and mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe.  Other directing credits include Red Herring and A Perfect Ganesh at 12 Miles West; Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest (DayTony recipient), Noises Off, the Midwest regional premiere of and The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Patient A with The Human Race Theatre Company.

The Artistic Staff

Creating the world of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is set designer Brian Ruggaber, costume designer Nancy Leary, lighting designer Andrew Hungerford, and sound designer Steven BeckelJosiane M. Lemieux serves as production stage manager and music direction is by Kris Kukul.     

Tickets

Single tickets for Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist are now on sale and start at $32.   Student Rush tickets are available a half-hour before curtain for $10 with a valid student ID.   For tickets, call the box office at 973-408-5600, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or email boxoffice@shakespearenj.org.  Single ticket prices include a $2 facility fee not subject to discount.

Special Performances

Preview performances for Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist are September 12th at 7:30 pm, September 13th and 14th at 8:00 pm, and September 15th at 2:00 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 September 12th and purchase a ticket for that evening’s 7:30 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 Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist will be Tuesday, September 18th at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, September 22nd and 29th at 2 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. The Know the Show performance will be held on Thursday, September 20th at 8:00 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 pm performance on September 29th 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.  

2012 Season

The 2012 Season includes two additional productions. 

Not since 2004 has The Shakespeare Theatre produced a musical but, to celebrate its 50th Anniversary Season, the Theatre will present the award-winning musical Man of La Mancha, based on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh.  Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte will direct.  Man of La Mancha will begin performances on October 17th

The Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season will close with the rarely-seen classic gem Trelawny of the Wells by Arthur Wing Pinero.  This effervescent romantic comedy about life in the theatre in England at the turn of the 19th century is a giddy and moving homage to art and artists.  Directed by Bonnie J. Monte, Trelawny of the Wells runs December 5 – 30. 

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. The Outdoor Stage is located on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth, 2 Convent Road in Morris Township. 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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