The Center for performing Arts at DeBaun Auditorium is joining up with the City of Hoboken to present the Fantasticks, the longest running Broadway musical, written by Tom Jones. It is the story of love lost and found, and of exploring the outside world. The play is directed by Aaron Bogad, who is the director in residence, and David Zimmerman, musical director.
Karen Maloney, managing director for The Center for Performing Arts at Debaun, is pleased to present the musical outside, under the sky. "The best part of live outdoor theater," said Maloney, "Is how the world literally becomes the players' stage. When the audience watches the play with the New York City skyline as its backdrop, there are so many places their imagination can take them. They can get carried away with the story that is being told."
This is Aaron Bogad's second season at DeBaun. According to Bogad, they discussed plays that would work in an outdoor setting. He picked the production with the skyline in mind. "We started to wonder what shows would work outside," said Bogad. "We wondered what would be beautiful outside."
Bogad said they get a lot of attention when they wheel the set from Debaun to the park. It gets people interested and often people will follow to watch the show. "Hudson county residents are surprised that it is happening and that it is so good," said Bogad. "I think they expect to see bad community theater."
The cast members are all professional actors who have enthusiasm and skill. For actor Chris Betz, this is his third production with the company. He plays the mute in the play and is happy to be back performing with the company. "They treat the actors really well [at DeBaun]," said Betz. "I always feel welcome." Betz said the audience response in past productions was good. "It was pretty positive," said Betz. "There were people that came in from New York to see the show. They appreciate that we can take risks."
The Fantasticks, directed by Aaron Bogad will be performed on July 8 through 10, at 7 p.m. in Pier A Park in Hoboken, and also on July 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. in Sinatra Park in Hoboken.
'Antony and Cleopatra'
The Hudson Shakespeare Company is in its 14th season. Antony and Cleopatra is only one of the company's plays this summer. They just finished Hamlet and are now in production of Antony and Cleopatra. After that closes, they have four more plays to perform, including Sweet Love Adieu, a comedy written by Ryan Smith and directed by Sandy Harper. Then they perform two more by Shakespeare, Richard III, and Love's Labours Lost. They close the summer season with The Sword Politik, written and directed by Jon Crefeld.
Jon Ciccarelli, Artistic Director of the company, thinks that outdoor performances are the most interactive. "The responses that we get from audiences are much more interactive and freer than at an indoor theater," said Ciccarelli. "You sometimes get to speak with the audience and get them involved in a scene. You have dogs getting in on the act as they often bark at a fight sequence or loud actor."
Antony and Cleopatra is directed by John Trigonis, who has been with the company for six years. He started working with the company as an actor, and this is the second play he is directing. He studied Shakespeare at The Globe Theater in London and is a professor at N.J.C.U., Bergen Community, and William Paterson University.
This production of Antony and Cleopatra isn't textbook Shakespeare. Trigonis edited the play down to two hours and changed the traditional setting. It is set in the future on a hot desert planet. He also uses color to show social class or foreshadowing with Cleopatra's black dress. He blended elements of science fiction into the plot. Trigonis hopes to attract science fiction fans to see Shakespeare.
"I try to make Shakespeare accessible," said Trigonis, "to people who might not understand the language." None of the 10 actors or Trigonis are paid for their work. According to Trigonis, they work for the love of the art. The biggest reward for them is when the audience gets the jokes or cheers when someone in the play dies.
Trigonis said not everyone appreciates his take on Shakespeare, particularly the traditionalists. But the beautiful language of Shakespeare doesn't always mean anything to audiences today. "Everyone is going to pull their own thing out of it," said Trigonis. "Whether they do it consciously or unconsciously."
All shows are at 7 p.m. For more information or complete schedule call (201) 420-2207 or visit www.hudsonshakespeare.org.