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Monday, June 30, 2008

Shakespeare Tavern to stage 15 plays next season

click to enlarge much-ado08.jpg

In a display of ambition that seems positively, well, Shakespearean, The New American Shakespeare Tavern has announced that it will stage 15 plays between this August and next June for its 2008-2009 season. That's a staggeringly busy schedule for a company that has no second stage, requiring constant performance.

In prior years the Tavern has staged "August Three-peat" repertory remounts of shows from earlier in the year, a concept tweaked for “Two Months of Four Plays,” with this August seeing returns of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and King John. (I reviewed the 2006 production of Complete here).

After Antony and Cleopatra in October, the Tavern stages the rarely-seen threesome of Henry VI, Parts I, II and III. Incidentally, I happened to see Artistic Director Jeffrey Watkins at Essential Theatre's Valhalla last night, and asked him if they considered including Richard III with the Henry plays, since it's basically a sequel to or conclusion of that cycle. Watkins said that they did, but that four plays would be too demanding to put on essentially all at once, but that in the 2009-2010 season, the Tavern might stage Richard III and bring the Henry VIs back.

December's perennial A Christmas Carol is followed in January by Doctor Faustus, a restaging of the two-actor take on Christopher Marlowe's deal-with-the-devil tragedy. I reviewed the 2000 production, and Maurice Ralston and Laura Cole (pictured) should make an exciting pair for this show.

As usual, the Tavern stages Romeo and Juliet in February to coincide with Valentine's Day. In March, the playhouse presents The Canterbury Tales, a Chaucerian adaptation by Theatre Gael artistic director John Stephens. About 10 years ago I saw the show's world premiere at Theatre Gael, and it was lively and hilarious. Then comes Hamlet in April, The Tempest in May and finally — and intriguingly — A Little Night Music in June, Stephen Sondheim's adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night, although the musical is best known for the standard "Send in the Clowns." Heidi Cline and Jeff McKerley are slated to star.

The comedy Much Ado About Nothing (shown above) plays at the Tavern through July 6.

(Photo courtesy of the New American Shakespeare Tavern)

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