Sponsored by the Grace Theatre Workshop in collaboration with the Hudson Shakespeare Company, Union City brings the community a variety of free performing arts entertainment from musical performances and comedy skits to the classic works of William Shakespeare.
Coming up next at Ellsworth Park is the bard's classic "The Merchant of Venice," which will take place on Thursday, June 21, at 8 p.m.
'Merchant of Venice'
Set in the 16th Century, the story of "The Merchant of Venice" is focused around Bassanio, a young Venetian, who is in love with the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia.
Bassanio wishes to travel to Belmont, where Portia is, but needs help with the expenses and approaches his good friend Antonio, who is a merchant of Venice. However, Antonio's funds are tied up in ships still out to sea, which forces the pair to approach the Jewish moneylender Shylock for a loan.
Shylock hates Antonio because of a recent incident, where Antonio insulted and spat on him for being a Jew, and as a stipulation of the loan Shylock will be allowed to take a pound of Antonio's flesh from where he wishes, if they are unable to pay back the loan.
In the meantime Portia is in the midst of picking a suitor, who can only marry her if they correctly choose one of three caskets with her portrait inside. As a stipulation to her father's will, if they choose incorrectly they must forever live the life of a bachelor.
So what will happen?
Well, audiences will find out on June 28th as the cast of the Hudson Shakespeare Company put on this unforgettable production.
"We have 12 in the cast, mostly new people," said John Ciccarelli, artistic director for Hudson Shakespeare Company. "We cast new groups each year."
Most of the actors are from the local New Jersey/New York area. Auditioned are held from late April to the end of June.
For the production they want to stay true to the script, but also emphasis the romantic comedy aspect of the piece, which is generally overlooked when staging this production.
"[The play] takes a lot of political and religious overtones, that's one of the main themes, but we also want to stress that it's a romantic comedy," said Ciccarelli. "We want to stress the comedic aspects of the show."
Playing the leads in the production are Thomas Farrington as Antonio, the merchant of Venice; Molly Pope as Portia, the wealthy love interest; Alex Weider as Bassino, friend of Antonio; and Scott Sortman as Shylock, the Jewish moneylender.
"I love Shakespeare," said Sortman, who is in his second season with the company. "I love the taste of the words in my mouth, and it's a [treat] for me to play Shylock because its one of the greatest parts. This is a man caught in a system that he has very little control over, and he abuses the system. I tend to look at him from a more modern point of view."
The Jersey City based Hudson Shakespeare Company was founded in 1992. The company has been touring around Hudson County and around the tri-state area since its inception. In addition, they performed in Union City before the summer festival began and at the Park Performing Arts Center.
"We actually did the 'Merchant of Venice' five years ago as a first outing for the festival," said Ciccarelli. "We do a number of other [classical] works as well during the winter months [such as] 'A Few Good Men.'"
The Grace Theatre Workshop, who at the time was also getting started at the Grace Church, began the annual theatre festival.
Since that time, the festival has become an annual summer tradition, which begins in early June and ends late August.
For more information about the Hudson Shakespeare Company, go to www.hudsonshakespeare.org. Jessica Rosero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Sidebar SUMMER SHOWS
All shows are performed Thursday evenings at 8 p.m., and are free admission.
June 28 - Randy Pradera in Concert
July 5 - The Comedy of Mike and Sue
July 12 - "The Two Noble Kinsman" by William Shakespeare
July 19 - Roxana & Jorge Chiquillo in Concert
July 26 - Café y Orquidea - Colombian Folklore: Music & Dance
Aug. 2 - "Romeo & Juliet" by William Shakespeare
Aug. 9 - Clowning around with Pitillo (a show for children of all ages)
Aug. 16 - Razzle Dazzle (an evening of dance)
Aug. 23 - Rosario & her Stars (a show for kids of all ages)