A Late Winter's Tale

Jon Ciccarelli

The long, cold winter is finally drawing to a close and spring is slowly taking root but it seems like winter just can’t “let it go”. The Hudson Shakespeare Company of Jersey City is exploring this tug of war sentiment with its new production of “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare which will be coming to: 

  •     Kenilworth Public Library 548 Boulevard, Kenilworth, NJ on Tuesday, April 7 at 7:30pm. Admission is free but registering with the library is recommended due to limited seating. You can contact the library at (908) 276-2451. 
  •     Hamilton Park, 9th Street and Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, NJ at 5pm on Thursday, April 9 presented in association with the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association (HPNA). Admission is free
  •     The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, 435 Newark Avenue, 
  •     Saturday, April 11th @ 1pm Historic Jersey City Harismus Cemetery, 435 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302. Tickets for this performance are a suggested $10 donation - proceeds go towards helping preserve this historic landmark.
  •     Sunday, April 12th @ 2pm, Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Riverside Park, NYC. (West 89th and Riverside Drive). Admission is free.    

Winter’s Tale is the story of King Leontes (Alexandra Gray), a man who is consumed with a low sense of his own worth when competing with his popular childhood friend King Polixenes (Daniel Mahler). Polixenes has always been the life of the party and Leontes has envied him during their long friendship. Now adults, Polixenes has been staying with Leontes, his very pregnant wife Hermione(Kristen Penner) and their precocious son Mamilius. All appears idyllic in the wintry fairy tale kingdom of Sicilia until Polixenes announces he has to return to his country of Bohemia. Leontes urges his wife to convince his best friend to stay longer and Hermione playing the gracious host and dutiful wife does her part, however, Leontes self-loathing envy quickly turns to jealousy as he believes that Hermione and Polixenes have been having an affair and that her unborn child is a result of their affair.

Leontes, now convinced of Hermione’s adultery, plots to murder Polixenes by help of the faithful servant Camillo (Ali Viterbi ) and has Hermione arrested. Camillo, not being to go through with the assassination, instead reveals the plan to Polixenes and they escape to Bohemia. Hermione, now in jail, gives birth but Leontes refuses to acknowledge the baby girl as his and orders her banished. Leontes seeks the advice of the gods in this matter and although they answer that he is wrong and Hermione and Polixenes are blameless, Leontes still won’t believe the truth. Leontes defies the word of the gods which sets in motion events that will have dire consequences for his son and wife and sets their new born daughter, Perdita (Lorelai Mackenzie), on a journey that will bring in contact with Polixenes son Florizel (Thomas Burns Scully) and full circle to her father’s house. The play’s tragic start is guided with the magical hand of Hermione’s best friend Paulina (Noelle Fair) who acts both as Leontes’ conscience and puppet master to bring reconciliation to his family.

“The Winter’s Tale” is one of Shakespeare’s late career plays and was written shortly before “The Tempest”. These plays are often called “romances” in the sense that they deal with stories that are set in fairy tale like places or times, involve a journey both physical and emotional and have supernatural occurrences in them that guide their protagonists. According to the Hudson Shakespeare Company, “these plays are fairy tales and we thought the show would make a great play to do at this cusp of winter and spring. The kingdom of Leontes is very much a winter setting which reflects his state of mind, rigid and cold and its reflected in the style of dress in their court. While the kingdom of his friend Polixenes is more spring like and this new season comes to Leontes through his daughter, Perdita.”

The show is also being presented as part of the company’s annual schools tour along with the general performance dates. The company said “We thought this would be an interesting choice to bring into our participating middle and high schools because its definitely not one of the usual titles that are studied in these schools or even college and graduate schools. Sure, you could go with a more known title like “Romeo and Juliet” but frankly doing these same olds titles can get boring for both a theater company and for students. There are close to 40 plays in the Shakespeare canon and we as a company look to expose both students and general audiences to these hidden gems. Students have really responded with interest to this production in that Its ‘Shakespeare’, but they never heard of it and that’s something that’s intriguing.”

The company will be continuing its unique exploration of the Bard’s titles and lesser known works with its summer touring season which will be running from middle of June through the end of August.

 In June, the company will be producing a cross gender production of “Love’s Labours Lost” where men will be playing the women’s role and women the men’s roles. The production follows is both showcasing the practice in Shakespeare’s day of men playing all the roles but also upending it by bringing actresses in on the action

 In July, the company will be producing another “Lost Shakespeare” with “Arden of Faversham”. The ‘based on a true story” of the murder of Thomas Arden. This black comedy is a “Desperate Housewives” meets Shakespeare which features an adulterous wife trying to kill her husband with a couple of dimwitted crooks as each murder attempt becomes more and more stupid and over the top. 

In August, the company returns with a treatment of “Hamlet” set in against a war torn 19 century background. While the attention usually focuses on the” Melancholy Dane” the production will also showcase the affect that his search for vengeance has on his country.

For more show and company information, call 973 449-7443 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hudsonshakespearecompany.

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