Shakespeare Theatre of NJ Plans Dickens of a Time at Christmas; Blue Bird Is Replaced

News   Shakespeare Theatre of NJ Plans Dickens of a Time at Christmas; Blue Bird Is Replaced
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will replace its previously announced holiday production of The Blue Bird with the American East Coast premiere of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted by British playwright Neil Bartlett.

The Shakespeare Theatre's artistic director Bonnie J. Monte will direct. Performances begin Nov. 27 toward a Dec. 1 opening, continuing to Dec. 31.

"This will be only the third time this version has been produced in the United States and the first production of it east of the Mississippi," according to the Madison, NJ, Equity troupe.

Performances will be Tuesday through Sundays at The Shakespeare Theatre's Main Stage — the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre.

Sherman Howard will play Ebenezer Scrooge. His credits include The Shakespeare Theatre productions of Enrico IV, Much Ado About Nothing, Life of Galileo and The Cherry Orchard in Washington, DC. He appeared recently in Broadway's Inherit the Wind.

Joining Howard onstage will be seven actors who portray more than 50 characters. "I recently came across this theatrical adaptation and it took my breath away and made my director's pulse quicken," Monte said in production notes. "Bartlett's aesthetic and approach feels very akin to my own. His innovative take on A Christmas Carol features an incredible aural landscape of actor-generated sound and song, and provides a fantastic opportunity for families and people of all ages to experience this classic tale in a whole new way. When I realized we had the opportunity to be the first company on the East Coast to premiere the play, I made the decision to postpone our production of The Blue Bird in order to have the honor of premiering one of the world's most beloved holiday tales in a style and vision that exemplifies our brand of artistry and artists."

Adaptor Neil Bartlett is a British playwright, award-winning novelist, Olivier Award-nominated director and the former artistic director of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in London. He is the author of the novel "The House on Brooke Street" and has published adaptations of The Misanthrope, The School for Wives and "Oliver Twist," which received rave reviews in its American premiere in Boston, New York and San Francisco this spring.

Bartlett's A Christmas Carol was originally created for the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and contains only Dickens' own words.

"I wanted to do it using Dickens' words, and nothing but," wrote Bartlett. "Dickens himself prompted this decision; after all, he wrote the story not just to be read, but to be read out loud, for an audience. His words don't describe; they enact."

Spoken and sung Victorian carols will be delivered a capella throughout the play.

The fall season at Shakespeare Theatre of NJ also includes William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life and Shakespeare's Henry VI: Blood & Roses adapted by Brian B. Crowe.

For tickets or more information call (973) 408-5600 or visit

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