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American Repertory Ballet presents world premiere of Ethan Stiefel’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Gillian Murphy. Photo by Harald Schrader.
Gillian Murphy. Photo by Harald Schrader.

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will present the world premiere of Ethan Stiefel’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from April 1-3, at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. His first full-length ballet for the company since being named artistic director in the summer of 2021, Stiefel’s magical production for audiences of all ages will be performed in collaboration with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Bean.

Set to Felix Mendelssohn’s iconic score with additional music written for film by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the enchanting production will transport audiences to a fantastical forest filled with fairies, elves, mischief, romance, joy and love. ARB’s Artistic Associate and American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Gillian Murphy will dance the role of Oberon, leader of the elves. 

“I can’t wait to dance in the world premiere of this incredibly unique, magical and entertaining production,” says Murphy. “The story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is such a treat to watch or perform, and I’m thrilled to portray Oberon for the first time in such a brilliant new version created by the one and only Ethan Stiefel.”

Stiefel’s artistic vision employs an expansive choreographic vocabulary, with a style and dynamic that veers from tradition. Scenery by award-winning designer Howard Jones, lighting by Joseph Walls, and original costumes by ARB’s Wardrobe Supervisor Janessa Cornell Urwin will complete the modern transformation of Shakespeare’s celebrated work for a cast that includes the entire ARB Company and trainees from the Princeton Ballet School.

“Ultimately, we hope that ARB’s new version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream becomes a crowd favorite for many years to come,” notes Stiefel, “a production the personnel and patrons can be proud of and one that continues to promote ARB’s own unique and innovative perspectives on dance.” 

Family-friendly activities inspired by the production will take place all weekend. On April 1, from 3-5pm, ARB will partner with the Arts Institute of Middlesex County with A Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed programing as part of First Friday in New Brunswick. Children of all ages can enjoy fairy and elf hand painting, a beginner ballet class offered by Princeton Ballet School’s DANCE POWER Scholars, giveaways and more. First Friday attendees will also experience fantastic art in the making with spoken word poetry, live mural creation by New Brunswick students and a papermaking workshop from Frontline Printmaking. Children can also enjoy elf- and fairy-themed activities in the lobby of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center beginning at 1pm on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday April 3, to further enhance the performance experience.

American Repertory Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed April 1 at 7:30pm, April 2 at 2pm and 7pm, and April 3 at 2pm. Tickets start at $25 and are available at  secure.nbpac.org/midsummer.

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