According to a statement released by the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Othello, which was to star Joe Morton Oct. 24-Nov. 19, will be replaced with The Merchant of 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. No cast has been named yet, but meaty parts like Portia and Shylock may beckon other name actors. (NYC Shylocks of yore have included Dustin Hoffman, Hal Holbrook, and Austin Pendleton.)
The rest of the NJSF's Rock Thy Brain season continues as planned with Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, with Robert Cuccioli as Antony, 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