After losing Joe Morton (who was to star in Othello) to a scheduling conflict, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival has decided to go with another Bard classic, The Merchant of Venice, featuring a number of veterans of the Great White Way.
Broadway stars Stevie Ray Dallimore (The Beauty Queen of Leenane) as Bassanio, Kate Forbes (the short-lived Kelsey Grammer Macbeth) as Portia, and Nicholas Kepros (The Rehearsal, The Government Inspector and the Ian McKellen/ Tim Curry Amadeus ) as Shylock will all spout iambic pentameter at the Madison, NJ stage.
Richard Corley will direct the aforementioned as well as the rest of the cast that includes Mark Elliot Wilson, Christian Conn, Michael Esper, Ramon de Ocampo, Gareth Saxe, Veronica Watt, Keldrik Crowder, Jonathan Uffelman, Pearl Theatre veteran Robert Hock, Donnie Mather, Joy Hooper, Conan McCarty, Darren Page, Michael Earle, and Walter E. Cupit.
Designing this Venice will be Larry W. Brown with sets, Linda Cho with costumes, and Matthew Adelson with lights. The production also features music by Nicholas Kitsopoulos.
* According to a statement released by the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Othello, which was to star Morton Oct. 24-Nov. 19, will be replaced with Venice. The change in the lineup is due to a scheduling conflict of Morton's.
According to artistic director Bonnie Monte's statement, "Joe [Morton] has been presented with the opportunity to film a script that he himself has written." Press spokesperson Bridget Daley told Playbill On-Line that Morton has been trying to make the film for a number of years and that the Morton Othello may reappear at a later date, but no plans for next season have been made yet.
So, rather than simply replacing the lead, Monte decided to go with another work from the Shakespeare repertoire. James Glossman, who was originally scheduled to direct Othello, will hand off directing duties to Richard Corley, who will helm Merchant.
The rest of the NJSF's Rock Thy Brain season continues as planned with Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, with Robert Cuccioli and Tamara Tunie, which runs Sept. 5-30, followed by the new addition, The Merchant of Venice Oct. 24-Nov. 19. The season concludes with Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird Nov. 28-Dec. 17.
The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival is located at 36 Madison Ave (Route 124) on the campus of Drew University in Madison. For ticket and travel information, call the box office at (973) 408-5600. Visit NJSF online at www.njshakespeare.org
-- by Ernio Hernandez