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Shakespeare Theatre excels with ‘The Grapes of Wrath'


You sometimes forget that The Shakespeare Theatre in Madison not only handles classical projects with great style, but it also takes on the challenges of modern American drama with great confidence.

"The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's 1939 potboiler of a proletarian novel was not only a best seller at the bookstores, but it was the 1940 Pulitzer Prize winner. It later became a fine motion picture and eventually was modified for the stage by Frank Galati. The play won the Tony Award as "Best Play."
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‘Grapes of Wrath’ a stunning production at Shakespeare Theatre in Madison

Independent Press

John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “The Grapes of Wrath,” has evolved into a stunning production at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, on the campus of Drew University in Madison.

This cast need take a back seat to no one. Christian Conn has the volatile, boyish appeal of a young man out on parole for a killing done in self defense. Steinbeck’s poetic writing is captured in an intimate scene with Ma Joad, when he speaks of fighting for what is fair.
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‘Grapes of Wrath’

John Steinbeck's adapted classic could have been pulled from the morning news


The bank evicts a family from its home. They load all their belongings in the family pickup and head west looking for work. But there are dozens of applicants for each available job. And there’s not much sympathy for people sinking deeper into poverty. Frustration soon takes over and leads to violence. The only thing left is hope, and even that is on life support.
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Shakespeare Theatre's 'Grapes of Wrath' will take your breath away

The Daily Record

A challenging play for challenging times, "The Grapes of Wrath," epically and expertly staged by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, shoves our current recession into sobering perspective.
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‘Grapes of Wrath’ in Madison is a magnificent achievement

Recorder Newspapers

Many of the parallels between then and now are obvious. John Steinbeck’s "The Grapes of Wrath" focused on the plight of the "Okies," those tens of thousands of destitute farm families who saw their homes bulldozed and their topsoil carried away by prairie winds during what historians call the Dust Bowl.
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'The Grapes of Wrath' lands in Madison

The Star Ledger

As Rodgers and Hammerstein claimed of Oklahoma, the wind does indeed come sweeping down the plain. But in "The Grapes of Wrath," the astonishing production at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the wind the audience hears at the start of the show sounds ominous and cold.
It sets the right tone.
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"Grapes of Wrath": Devastating & Fantastic


We think we're living in difficult times right now and, in fact, we are. Remember that our generation didn't invent hard times, though, and there is no better reminder than Frank Galati's adaptation of John Steinbeck's epic 1939 novel "Grapes of Wrath," which documents the descent of the Joad family into the maelstrom caused by the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Crops failed due to lack of crop rotation, erosion and deep plowing of the Great Plaines, affecting more than 100 million acres of formerly arable land. Add drought and winds, and you've got the recipe for disaster. Farms failed and sharecropping families moved west in droves. The Joads move to the Salinas Valley in California where they have heard there may be work.
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The Grapes of Wrath


John Steinbeck's celebrated novel The Grapes of Wrath, about the dispossessed Dust Bowl farmers, was effectively and powerfully dramatized by Frank Galati. There was a successful and acclaimed Broadway production under Galati's direction in 1990 that followed its premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company. There have been numerous regional productions since then. In the wake of the recent recession, the loss of jobs and the many displaced families, there could not be a better time for The Shakespeare Theatre Company to stage this all too painfully topical and timely play. I will wager that this production, under the sterling direction of Joe Discher, will stay in your mind long after the physical production is gone.
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Connor Leszczek sets the mood in ‘Grapes of Wrath’ at Shakespeare Theater of NJ


MADISON — Connor Dugan Leszczek, a senior at Madison High School, says he was in an airplane over "the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," this summer, when his mom called to inform him that he had been hired by the Shakespeare Theater as the fiddle player in the Shakespeare’s current production of "Grapes of Wrath."
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