The Lord Stirling Theater Company presents
By Ronald Harwood
WHEN: Friday, May 6, at 7:30PM, with additional performances on May 7 at 7:30PM, May 13-14 at 7:30PM, May 20 at 7:30PM, and May 22 at 2:00PM.
WHERE: English Barn Theater at the Farmstead Arts Center, 450 King George Road, Basking Ridge, NJ.
TICKETS: $20 general admission, or $15 for seniors (65 and over), Farmstead Arts members, and students (18 and under). To purchase tickets in advance, CLICK HERE. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.
The Dresser is set in World War II England, as a touring theater company struggles to carry on bringing Shakespeare to the provinces, despite all the young, able-bodied actors being away fighting overseas and the theaters being bombed. The brilliant but tyrannical Sir, the aging leading actor and manager of the company, is preparing for his 227th performance of King Lear. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, he cannot remember his lines or even the play he is about to perform. Her Ladyship, the company’s leading lady and Sir’s partner, appeals to him to cancel the performance and retire. Madge, Sir’s long-time stage manager, also believes the show should be cancelled. His backstage dresser, Norman, who has spent his entire career looking after Sir, disagrees and is determined to get him on stage. The complicated relationship between one man who has devoted his life to the theater and the other who has devoted his life to him forms the basis for this acclaimed drama rich in humor, pathos, and love for the theater. [Above: (left to right) Jack Cibrian of Sayreville (Norman), William Ward of Basking Ridge (Sir), Stacey Petricha of Chatham (Her Ladyship); photo by Caroline Ward]
Ronald Harwood based the play on his experiences as dresser to the distinguished English Shakespearean actor-manager Donald Wolfit, who is the model for the character of Sir in the play. The play was first presented in March, 1980, at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and then opened at the Queen’s Theatre in London in April, 1980. The play was nominated for Best Play at the Laurence Olivier Awards for 1980. The Dresser opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York City in 1981 and ran for 200 performances. It was nominated for the 1982 Tony Award for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play (Tom Courtenay), as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (Paul Rogers). In 1983, the play was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. The Dresser was recently remade into a BBC television film starring Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen.
The cast of The Lord Stirling Theater Company’s production of The Dresser includes: Jack Cibrian of Sayreville as Norman, Stacey Petricha of Chatham as Her Ladyship, Kathryn Veronica of Somerville as Irene, Emma Schwartz of Westfield as Madge, William Ward of Basking Ridge as Sir, Robert Scarpone of Flanders as Geoffrey Thornton, Peter Curley of Maplewood as Oxenby, Robert Goodwin of Highland Park as Kent, and Allan Gershenson of Linden as Gloucester.
Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., The Dresser is The Lord Stirling Theater Company’s fourth full theatrical production at the Farmstead Arts Center, following Frankenstein’s Fate and The Tempest in 2015 and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 2014. A dynamic new community of creative artists based in Basking Ridge, the group is committed to presenting innovative theater for diverse audiences, through readings and full productions of classical theater and new works, as well as exploring the American experience through compelling productions that illuminate and celebrate our history, culture and literature. The theater group fosters the next generation of theater artists and audiences by providing unique hands-on educational programming and training in all aspects of theater production.
The English Barn Theater is wheelchair accessible. Anyone anticipating the need for additional accessibility services please send an e-mail in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funds for these events have been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program Grant administered by The Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission.