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Shakespeare Festival Williamsburg Va June 2008

 The Virginia Shakespeare Festival takes center 

stage this month, opening a series of

three plays ranging from tragedy to wild,

physical comedy. It’s the 30th anniversary

of the annual festival and the plays were

chosen to celebrate the occasion.

Traditionally the festival has presented one production

in the smaller studio theater of Phi Beta

Kappa. This year all three productions will be presented

on PBK’s main stage. That will allow for more

people to take in the fun.

Shakespeare’s popular, “The Taming of the Shrew,”

will open the festival June 25 and run through July 6.

That will be followed by the epic tragedy, “Othello,”

July 11-20 and “The Complete History of America

Abridged,” July 24- Aug. 3.

Festival artistic director, Christopher Owens looks

forward to the season and will direct “The Complete

History” in addition to overseeing the productions.

“I’m going to have fun, personally directing a wild

contemporary comedy instead of my usual

Shakespeare,” Owens said recently.

Owens added that this year, the actors will wear

hidden microphones to boost sound and clarity.

“I do think the sound improvement will be quite

dramatic, particularly for those less familiar with

Shakespeare,” he said.

The lineup should result in solid ticket sales. “The

Taming of the Shrew” is probably one of the most

known of Shakespeare’s comedies. It pits the fiery

Kate against Petruchio in a physical and intellectual

battle of the sexes.

It will be directed by James Bond, an accomplished

Shakespearean director. He is setting the play in the

18th century, in a world of high manners and social

decorum. Owens said the play lends itself well to that

interpretation.

Playing Petruchio will be Equity actor Jens

Rasmussen, who has more than 20 Shakespearean

roles to his credit. It will be the first time he takes on

Petruchio. Matching wits with him as the fiery Kate

will be Catherine Gowl.

“Othello,” which tells the story about duplicity and

jealousy will be directed by W&M faculty director

Laurie Wolf. The production features Equity actor

Michael Johnson as Othello and Jason Weiss who will

take on the quintessential villain, Iago. Barrie Kreinik,

who appeared in last season’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

will play the fated Desdemona.

Wolf’s production will be set in post-apartheid

South Africa, but Owens promised that the language

and storyline will remain intact.

For those unfamiliar with the production, Iago is

one of Shakespeare’s most cunning and dastardly

characters. Owens said Weiss had the characteristics

necessary to play the role effectively.

“In all the men we read (for the role), he was really

the one with the most subtext going on,” Owens

said.“You watch him on stage and you can just see the

wheels turning inside his head.”

The final production of the season is the wacky

“The Complete History of America Abridged.” That

follows on the heels of the immensely successful “The

Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged” a couple

seasons ago.

Owens has two of the cast members of “Complete

Works” returning for the production, which should

boost the comedy to hilarity. Karl Kippola and Matt

McGloin will lead the romp through America’s history

with improvisation and audience participation.

“Even in the scripted parts, it seems like those guys

are making a lot of it up on the spot,” Owens said. “It

pokes fun a lot of fun at elements of political correctness

in what actually became known as our American

history.”

Owens added that the production will have particular

relevance because of the upcoming presidential

election.

“I do think that it will have much of the same

impact ‘Complete Works’ did, where audiences came

back to see it again, for obvious humor and to see

where the guys will go with it on that particular

night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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