Outdoor N.J. Shakespeare fest has a recurring ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center has joined the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey to celebrate the work of William Shakespeare just in time for his 457th birthday.

“The Bard at Bell Works” will take place on the outdoor rooftop deck at Bell Works campus in Holmdel with performances over three weekends by the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, the Madison-based Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and the students of the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy.

“We are delighted to be sharing live theater at Bell Works, bringing together two professional companies and dozens of amazingly talented young apprentices, all discovering the sheer genius of Shakespeare together,” said academy artistic director Andrew DePrisco.

Part of the New Jersey Theater Alliance’s Stages Festival, “The Bard at Bell Works” will run from Saturday, April 10, to Sunday, April 25. The festival will includes two versions of Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: an abridged version of the original play performed by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s touring company; and a reimagining of the ballet choreographed by Chajnik and danced by the professional members of Axelrod’s ballet troupe. A free screening of the 1935 Max Reinhart film starring Mickey Rooney also has been planned, but no time or date was posted as of press time.

Portraying Oberon in the ballet will be Gilbert Bolden III, a member of New York City Ballet, with Gillian Worek of the Saratoga Ballet, playing the role of Tatania, The role of the Bard will be played by professional New Jersey actor Patrick Poole. Performances are scheduled for 4 p.m. April 11, 6 p.m. April 16, 6:30 p.m. April 17, 4:30 p.m. April 18, and 5 p.m. April 24 and 25.

Shakespeare Theatre’s company will include Jeffrey Marc Alkins (Theseus/Oberon), Ellie Gossage (Hippolyta/Titania), Katie Langham (Bottom) and Katja Yacker (Puck). The production is directed by Brian B. Crowe with costumes by Natalie Loveland and scenic design by Meri Lawson. Performances will be

“Nothing says spring quite like the return to vibrant outdoor productions, and what better play for this time of year than the Bard’s raucous and funny ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” said Crowe. “We are thrilled to be part of Axelrod’s Bard at Bell Works festival, which is providing so many delightful inroads to the works of this master playwright — from music and dance to theater and film.”

Bard at Bell Works

Excerpts from “West Side Story” and other stage shows inspired by Shakespeare will be part of the “Bard at Bell Works” outdoor festival hosted by Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Holmdel on weekends from April 10 to 25.axelrodartscenter.com

The pre-professional Axelrod academy students will join members of the ballet company for an original musical revue, “The Bard on Broadway,” including songs and scenes from Shakespeare-centric Broadway musicals and the plays that inspired them, such as “West Side Story” (“Romeo and Juliet”), “Kiss Me, Kate” (“Taming of the Shrew”) and “Something Rotten!” (“Hamlet”). This showcase was created by APAA’s professional Broadway staff, including Brian O’Brian (“Chicago”), Ross Lekites (“Disney’s Frozen”), and Aaron Kaburick (“Something Rotten!”). Performances will be 2 p.m April 11, 3 p.m. April 17, 2:30 p.m. April 18, 6 p.m. April 23, 5 p.m. April 24, and 3 p.m. April 25.

Kicking off the fest will be the academy’s “Primary Showcase” with scenes and dances from junior productions, such as “Aladdin,” “School of Rock” and “Little Mermaid,” noon Saturday, April 10, and 11 a.m. Sunday, April 11.

Bell Works is at 101 Crawfords Corner Road in Holmdel. Seating is limited, due to social distancing requirements, so reservations are strongly encouraged.

Tickets are $32 for each performance three-day packages and unlimited access options available. For complete schedule and tickets/passes. visit axelrodartscenter.com.

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