Monday, April 18, 2011


'Zounds, this Friday is William Shakespeare's birthday, and I didn't even send a card. But never mind; there'll be festivties aplenty this summer when Shakespeare Santa Cruz presents its ambitious 30th Anniversary Season. Artistic Director Marco Barricelli has a full slate in store for local theatregoers: three plays in repertory (Henry IV, Part 1, The Comedy Of Errors, and The Three Musketeers), plus a Fringe production this summer (July 19-August 28), a special fall benefit show in November (Bard Babes), and the return of the beloved Holiday Musical (A Year With Frog & Toad).

It's a swashbuckling lineup. The mayhem is comic in Comedy, a knockabout farce of mistaken identities where two pairs of identical male twins cause havoc for wives, lovers, servants, and each other. SSC had a huge hit with Danny Scheie's riotous Laugh-In-style staging of the play in 1988 (re-mounted in 1993), possibly the single most entertaining SSC production ever. And since Scheie is such a tough act to follow, Scheie himself will be back in the director's chair, reprising, reinventing, and updating the material for the new season.

(Btw, the summer's Fringe production will be The Brothers Menaechmus, the orginal Roman comedy by Plautus that inspired Shakespeare's Comedy, directed by Patty Galagher and performed by the company's intrepid acting interns.)

HVP1 is a testosterone-infused adventure in which roistering slacker Prince Hal breaks the spell of genial old reprobate Falstaff, his mentor in vice, and starts embracing his inner king-to-be. The last time it was staged at SSC, in 1984, local audiences were introduced to a young actor fresh from the Royal Shakespeare Company as Prince Hal: Paul Whitworth. Done up in long hair and Cleopatra eye makeup, Boy George-style (hey, it was the '80s), he made his first entrance on a motorcycle, hoisting a six-pack of brewskis. (That's Paul and his Falstaff, Tony Church, in an excellent photo by maestro Shmuel Thaler.) This new production will be directed by fan favorite Scott Wentworth (he has recently played Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Brutus in Julius Caesar). It's to be the first in the "Henriad" trilogy that SSC plans to tackle in toto, Henry IV, Part Two coming in 2012, and Henry V in 2013.

And the roistering continues in The Three Musketeers, one of my all-time favorite swashbuckling properties. I adore the Dumas novel, and I never miss a movie version (more about that in a future blog), but I've never seen it live, onstage, and I am so stoked! Best of all, director Art Manke is staging it outside in the Festival Glen, so there'll be plenty of room for clashing blades, scandalous seductions, and boisterous bonhomie. I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

Read all about the season on the SSC website. Season Tickets & Group Tickets are on sale as we speak; Single Tickets to individual plays go on sale May 17. In the meantime, brush up your Shakespeare, sharpen your blades, and get ready for some rip-roaring summer theatre.

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