Timeline: Shakespeare Theatre of NJ Through the Years
From Cape May to Madison, classics were honored in New Jersey.
Editor's Note: This is the final installment in a four-part look at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey as it celebrates its 50th year. Part 2 took a look back through the eyes of the theater's founders, while Part 3 showed what to expect this historic season
1963: Paul Barry begins producing plays at the Cape May Playhouse, a former vaudeville house. First production is “Rhinoceros.” The first official “New Jersey Shakespeare Festival” production is “Taming of the Shrew.”
1964-68: The company produces at least ten plays per summer season.
1965-67: The company spends falls in Boston, performing Shakespeare plays in rep for students as the Boston Herald-traveler Repertory.
1968: Last summer at the Cape May Playhouse, which was torn down in the fall.
1969: Without a home stage, the company mounts a South Jersey school tour of “Spoon River Anthology.”
1970: Company returns to Cape May for a single season in the Grand Ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel. First season produced entirely under the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival banner. The hotel is razed in the fall.
1971: Company is dark. Barry directs “Romeo and Juliet” and “West Side Story” at Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania.
1972: Barry takes over as artistic director of the New Orleans repertory and produces two plays before the company runs out of money.
1972: Barry strikes a deal to bring the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival to Drew University in Madison. First season includes “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Troilus and Cressida,” “The Bourgeois Gentleman,” “Beyond the Fringe” and “The Hostage.”
1983: Company presents Shakespeare’s “Blood and Roses” tetralogy in repertory.
1990: Board of trustees votes to remove Paul and Ellen Barry. Barry’s final season begins with “King John” and ends with “Death of a Salesman,” with Barry starring as Willy Loman.
1991: Bonnie J. Monte’s first season as artistic director begins with “The Tempest” and ends with “Twelfth Night.”
1996: Final season in the Bowne Theatre ends with “Leocadia.”
1997: Company is homeless while the Bowne is transformed into the state-of-the-art F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. Plays are produced at Playwrights Theatre in Madison and the Community Theatre in Morristown, with an outdoor production of “Henry V” staged on the football field at the former Bayley-Ellard High School in Madison.
1998: The renamed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey christens its new Kirby stage with a production of “Cyrano De Bergerac.”
2001: Jared Harris stars as Hamlet with his father, legendary actor Richard Harris, appearing via video projection as the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Considered to be the last stage appearance for Richard Harris, who died in 2002, a few weeks before the premiere of his last film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”
2002: Annual tradition of outdoor shows at the College of St. Elizabeth’s Greek Theatre begins with a production of “The Grouch.”
2004: Production of “Macbeth” shatters company box-office records. The holiday production of the musical “Illyria” proves so popular that the cast records a musical soundtrack released on CD.
2007: Company expands season to eight annual productions. Cuts back to seven in 2010.
2011: An extended run of “To Kill a Mockingbird” sets a new box-office record. Actress Mary Badham, who played Scout in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, comes to Madison for an audience conversation.
Sources: Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; Paul and Ellen Barry