Much Ado About Summer Entertainment

This is an on-line version of an article appeared in the June 16, 2002 issue of The Union City Reporter for the first showing of The Merchant of Venice which kicked off our 2002 Shakespeare Festival.  

Much ado about summer entertainment

City holds its first Shakespeare in the Park series


Christine Nardone
Reporter staff writer
June 16, 2002
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK – The Hudson Shakespeare Company performed A Merchant in Venice in Ellsworth Park in Union City on June 12.

Not even the rain could stop the production of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice on June 12. Performed at Ellsworth Park on 24th Street and New York Avenue, the play wowed the 20 or so viewers who came prepared with their umbrellas.

This production was the first for Union City's new Shakespeare in the Park series. Hudson Shakespeare will present two more productions in Ellsworth Park this summer.

King Lear will be performed on July 10, and Measure for Measure on Aug. 14. Both of these performances will begin at 8 p.m. and were sponsored by the Union City Department of Parks and Public Property.


Not just Shakespeare

Hudson Shakespeare, based out of Jersey City and Hoboken, will be performing nine Shakespeare in the Park shows throughout the county this summer.

However, this program is only part of the company's summer season. According to Cheryl Rossillo, who directed last week's performance of A Merchant in Venice, the company also performs other shows throughout the year.

"Give us a space, whether it be a dime or a phone booth," said L. Robert Johnson, the company's producer, who said that they used to call it environmental theater. "If you gives us a space we will perform."

The company, formed in 1992, began with a stage reading in Hamilton Park in Jersey City. Now the company has expanded to perform throughout the county in any venue.

"In the parks you always have passersby or kids on skateboards," said Jon Ciccarelli, who is also a producer for the company. "It is always interesting to see who doesn't expect to watch the show stay awhile."

Adding variety

Department of Parks and Public Works Commissioner Michael Leggiero said that Shakespeare in the Park is just one of the new entertainment series the city is planning to bring to its parks.

"We are trying to bring cultural variety to the community," said Leggiero. "We are hoping in the future to have a full summer schedule of entertainment in the community. We want to make [our schedule] as diversified as our community is."

The city is also looking to add to the summer schedule more musical entertainment, including jazz groups.

Leggiero said he is also looking to bring in some art fairs and shows. However, he said he needs the community's support in creating this schedule.

"If more people take an interest in some ideas we will support it," said Leggiero.


©The Union City Reporter 2002
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