One of the nation's most esteemed Shakespeare outfits, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has brought the playwright's work to life for the past half-century. But the troupe takes its name more as an inspiration than a strict limit, also mounting productions of other classics by writers such as Thornton Wilder and Noël Coward. Once a summer, the company takes to the College of Saint Elizabeth's outdoor amphitheater—modeled after Athens' Theater of Dionysius, a favorite venue for Shakespeare performances in Greece—to present the bard's work in the way he intended: alive under the open sky.
Playwrights Theatre stages productions of up-and-coming plays each year through its New Play Development program. The 2010–2011 season keeps the theatre's long-standing commitment to fresh ars theatrica with three works: Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods by Tammy Ryan, MoM A Rock Concert Musical by Richard Caliban, and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie by Julie Jensen. Your season subscription to Playwrights Theatre entitles you to view all three performances, receive a 50% discount on two tickets for family or friends, gain admittance to opening-night parties, and attend post-show talkbacks about new-play development and the inside story on plays. You'll also receive a pass to the FORUM staged reading series, enough to attend a reading of each of the series' 13 new plays and discuss the material with artists in an intimate setting.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Winner of the JerseyArts.com 2009 People's Choice Award for favorite Professional Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse has been opening the curtain on top-quality musical theater and plays since its debut in 1938. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, follows the travails of a group of young students participating in their countywide spell off. With hilarious tunes and frequent fourth wall demolition, the musical expertly tickles audience funny femurs while filling their ears with the harmonious euphony of the Tony-nominated score. Groupon buyers will leave the theater with a Paper Mill Playhouse cup (a $5 value), allowing patrons of the arts to signal their theater affiliation to rival gangs of symphony and museum cup holders.
Nestled in the Morris Museum, the Bickford Theatre's cast of canny actors transmits theatrics directly to each of the auditorium's 312 house seats. Their latest production, the Tony-nominated I Hate Hamlet, charts the comedic trials of protagonist Andrew Rally, a successful actor offered the chance to play Hamlet in Central Park. The leading character is haunted by his eponymous hatred for the show, and he inadvertently summons the ghost of John Barrymore, history's greatest Hamlet. The play's multifaceted plot incorporates madcap antics to generate bellowing laughter—maintaining a replay value comparable to a YouTube video of a koala sneezing and falling into a vat of flour. The Bickford Theatre produces four plays every season and hosts jazz concerts, children's theater, and performing-arts classes.
The New York Films Critics Series culls professional reviewers and armchair critics under one roof to revel in advance screenings of highly anticipated motion pictures. Bigwig film critics, including Peter Travers from the Rolling Stone and Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly, are slated to host, helming fact-crammed introductions and popcorn-eating competitions before each film. Though the stereogram algorithm that reveals the season’s lineup has yet to be deciphered, films on the docket may include the latest movie from Academy Award-winning director Pedro Almodóvar, Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize award-winner Like Crazy, and the adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary starring Johnny Depp. Screenings are often followed by interviews with special guests, such as actors, screenwriters, and Oscar-worthy best boys. Past appearances include writer /director/actor Josh Radnor (TV's How I Met Your Mother) and actress Zoe Kazan (Me and Orson Welles).