The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, a rowdy tale of con artists and their gullible prey. This production marks the premiere of Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte’s new adaptation of the 17th century work. Performances begin August 6 at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Avenue in Madison.
Tickets start at $25 for all preview performances. All regular performances offer tickets starting at $32. Student rush tickets for all performances are $15, available a half-hour before curtain for with a valid student ID. 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. For tickets, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.
When the merchant Lovewit flees London to avoid the plague, wild antics ensue as Lovewit’s opportunistic butler reimagines himself as Captain Face, a clever character with a “get rich quick” mentality. Face joins forces with fellow con man Subtle and a local prostitute Dol Common. Together, the trio baits a parade of colorful dupes with the promise of gold, including a lawyer’s clerk, a tobacconist, a nobleman, a widow, and religious fanatics. Written in 1610, Jonson’s bawdy, lunatic comedy demonstrates how little has changed about greed or gullibility in the affairs of mankind.
With an ingenious con man plot line, The Alchemist was one of British playwright Ben Jonson’s most successful plays. Along with Shakespeare, Jonson towers above the many influential leaders of English Renaissance literature. Through his plays, poetry, and elaborate masques for James I’s court, Jonson was well-known in his day. He achieved early success with a 1598 production of his Every Man in His Humour, a production which featured a young William Shakespeare as an actor. Though few written records remain, The Alchemist is thought to have premiered in 1610 and was one of the first plays to be produced by the King’s Men (formerly the Lord Chamberlin’s Men) theatre company when they reassumed control of the Blackfriars’ Playhouse in 1610.
Shakespeare Theatre Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of her adaptation of Jonson’s play. She admits to avoiding the play for most of her theatrical life. “Despite my passion for classics, The Alchemist was just one of those scripts I kept pushing aside for years. It wasn’t until last winter that I finally sat down, waded through the complex language, and truly gave Jonson’s story a chance. I found myself laughing aloud! I realized, with a stream-lined adaptation, this story must be told on our stage. To bring this work to life, we have gathered an unprecedented ensemble of some of the Theatre’s most skilled comedians.”
Shakespeare Theatre veteran John Ahlin portrays the English gentlemen Lovewit. His numerous Broadway credits include Waiting for Godot with Bill Irwin, Nathan Lane and John Glover, Journey’s End (2007 Tony Award for Best Revival), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Voices in the Dark, One Mo’ Time, Whoopee!, and Macbeth. Ahlin’s television and film credits include Late Night with David Letterman, The Education of Max Bickford, the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.
As Lovewit’s butler who masquerades as the charlatan Face, Jon Barker returns after portraying Caliban in this season’s production of The Tempest. Previous Shakespeare Theatre credits include Pericles, Tovarich, Henry IV, Part One, Othello, The Misanthrope, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and The School For Wives among many others. He has also appeared at the Terrace Theater in the Kennedy Center, the Paramount Theatre, and Luna Stage.
Bruce Cromer plays Face’s partner in mischief, Subtle. With The Shakespeare Theatre, Cromer played both Dukes in last season’s As You Like It, Apemantus in Timon of Athens, Arnolphe in The School For Wives, In September, Cromer will play The Poet in a one-man version of An Illiad with Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati in September and then returns (for his tenth year) as Scrooge in the Cincinnati Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol in December. Cromer also serves as the head of Acting for Wright State University's Professional Actor Training Program.
As the saucy lady of ill repute—Dol Common, Aedin Moloney returns to the Theatre for her second season after appearing last year as George Eliot in the world premiere production of A Most Dangerous Woman. Most recently, she starred alongside Peter Gerety and Dana Ivey in Dubliners by Arthur Yorinks for WNYC Public Radio. She has worked with Irish Repertory Theatre, Atlantic Theatre, Hartford Stage, Bristol Old Vic, Sheffield Crucible, and Battersea Arts Center. Her film and television credits include Nora with Ewan McGregor, Far and Away, The Captives, Agnes Brown, Ballykissangel, The Moth, and Vanity Fair. Moloney is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the founder/producing artistic director of New York’s Fallen Angel Theatre Company.
Shakespeare Theatre veteran Jeffrey M. Bender, in his fifteenth season with the Theatre, plays the wittless tobacconist Abel Drugger. Bender recently appeared on Broadway in A Time to Kill at the Golden Theater and in Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. He has also worked at Denver Center Theatre, Arena Stage, the Old Globe, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.
As the wealthy nobleman Sir Epicure Mammon, Brent Harris returns for his fourth season with The Shakespeare Theatre where his credits include Henry IV, Part One, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Timon of Athens. Brent is currently playing Screwtape in the national tour of The Screwtape Letters. He also recently played Scar in the national tour of The Lion King and the title role in AJAX at the American Repertory Theatre (IRNE award nomination). His regional credits include work with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company D.C, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Pearl Theatre, The Actors Company Theatre, among many others.
As Sir Mammon’s friend, the skeptic Pertinax Surly, Kevin Isola returns to The Shakespeare Theatre for his sixth season where he most recently appeared in The Liar, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and Around The World in Eighty Days. His New York credits include Brooklyn Boy on Broadway and work with Second Stage, Transport Group, 59E59 Street Theatre, The Women’s Project, The Play Company, Playwrights Horizons, NYSF/The Public Theater, Lincoln Center, The Cherry Lane. His film and television credits Passing Harold Blumenthal, Frank the Rat, The New Bozena, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Uninvited, 24 Nights, Academy Boyz, The New Yorker, Fringe, Damages, and many others.
Seamus Mulcahy portrays the angry youth Kastril. In his sixth season with The Shakespeare Theatre, his company credits include last season’s Tovarich, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear (as The Fool), A Christmas Carol, Henry V, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He appeared Off-Broadway in Our Town directed by David Cromer. Mulcahy’s film credits include One Fall, Killing Lincoln with Tom Hanks.
Shakespeare Theatre veteran James Michael Reilly, in his twenty-second season, plays the zealot Anabaptist Ananias. Notable Shakespeare Theatre credits include last season’s Our Town, 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 in Boardwalk Empire, Elementary, Person of Interest, and Louie.
Longtime company member Raphael Nash Thompason plays the Anabaptist Pastie Tribulation Wholesome. Thompson’s recent credits include Morocco in The Merchant of Venice at Theater for a New Audience with F. Murray Abraham as Shylock, as well as work with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Red Bull Theatre, Hartford Stage, Clurman Theater, and Wilma Theatre. His television credits: Ed (NBC), Third Watch (NBC) and Soul Food (Showtime).
James Costello, Kristen Kittel, and Jon Sprik round out the cast.
Tickets start at $25 for all preview performances. All regular performances offer tickets starting at $32. Student rush tickets for all performances are $15, available a half-hour before curtain for 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 The Alchemist are Wednesday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday, August 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, August 9 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 August 6 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 The Alchemist will be Tuesday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
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.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Bonnie J. Monte
MAIN STAGE: F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre
36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Rd.), Madison, NJ
TICKETS & INFO: Call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org
The Alchemist Snapshot
By Ben Jonson
Adapted and Directed by Bonnie J. Monte
Begins August 6
Previews: Wednesday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 7 and Friday, August 8 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, August 9 at 2 p.m.
Opening Night: Saturday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Post-Show Symposium Performances: Tuesday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
Know the Show: Thursday, August 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Audio Described Performance: Saturday, July 19 at 2 p.m.
Closing Performance: Sunday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesdays (7:30 p.m.): August 12, 19
Wednesdays (7:30 p.m.): August 6, 13, 20
Thursdays (8 p.m.): August 7, 14, 21
Fridays (8 p.m.): August 8, 15, 22
Saturdays (2 p.m.): August 9, 16, 23
Saturdays: August 9 (7:30 pm), August 16, 23 (8 p.m.)
Sundays (2 p.m.): August 10, 17, 24
Sundays (7:30 p.m.): August 10, 17