Now that summer seems finally to have hit Ontario, it feels less surreal to report on outdoor productions of Shakespeare. I’ll get to the new openings in a minute, but I do want to plug the three shows I have seen at Stratford already this year. King Lear features unusually strong bench strength; the cast is excellent in large roles and small. The production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream offers a genuinely fresh interpretation of the play – one of the few times I’ve seen a Dream driven more by artistic concept than by box office.
And King John is, well, King John. Truly stellar performances from Tom McCamus as the King and Graham Abbey as the Bastard make this seldom-staged play worth seeing – though I admit the production does show why the play is not a popular favourite.
And last, before getting on to the news, a demonstration of just how much fun you can have backstage at Lear. Maev Beaty (Goneril) and her father provided treats in keeping with the theme of the play – but ganache, rather than jelly.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival adds two Shakespeares to their outdoor line-up.
Sarah Rasmussen offers up an all-female production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Given the unsettling gender politics of the play – especially the last scene – I’d be very interested to know how the casting plays out. Does any enterprising reader want to offer a review? Confession: I also want to give Picasso, the dog cast as Crab, a tummy rub.
Richard III has also opened, featuring Dan Donohue in the title role under the direction of Jim Bundy. The production runs until October 10.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park (Buffalo, NY)
For those of you in the Great Lakes area or upstate New York, Shakespeare in Delaware Park is putting on a production of Henry V, directed by Saul Elkin, and featuring Patrick Moltane in the starring role. Showtimes are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 PM, until July 13.
Dream in High Park (Toronto)
The Canadian Stage Company sometimes makes bold choices. This year, someone at CanStage must have said something along the lines of “You know what two plays would go well together? Titus Andronicus and As You Like It!” However that conversation actually went down, those are the choices for the pay-what-you-can outdoor performances, opening June 26. If you check the CanStage website you’ll see that a number of the July dates are in fact sold out, so I would suggest booking online rather than showing up, hoping to pay at the gate.
“If music be the food of love” – Illyria at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival
The Virginia Shakespeare Festival at William and Mary College opened their musical Illyria on June 25. Based, of course, on Twelfth Night, the musical premiered at the festival in 2006 to enthusiastic audience response. Book and lyrics by John Briggs, music by Briggs and Eric Frampton. Until July 10.(And a grateful hat-tip to member musicalbard.com for pointing this out to me!)
Meanwhile, on the West Coast
Confession: I had to look up where Orinda, CA is. It’s apparently just a hop skip and a jump east of UC Berkley, so I have had my geography lesson for the day. Orinda is also home to Cal Shakes – who are mounting a production of A Comedy of Errors under the direction of Aaron Posner. The production runs to July 20. See here for more information.
That’s all for this week. Send us all your fabulous performance notices, tips, links to reviews, etc. We’d love to hear from you about anything performance-related. Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and [insert verb] us on [insert title of social media Rory hasn’t heard of yet]. If you really like what you see, you could even consider making a donation.
I actually have to add a special plea: audition notices are my blind spot. I never find them. Ever. Please, help out your fellow thesps, and send me tips on upcoming auditions!