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Natalie Rose as Lady Macbeth and Dennis Kleinsmith as Macbeth. Photo: MSF

Michigan Shakespeare Festival opens 2013-14 touring performances

Posted: Oct. 24, 2013 at 8:28 a.m.

JACKSON - The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is proud to announce the opening of its 2013-14 touring performances. From Nov. 4 through May 30, 2014 the MSF tour will perform "Macbeth" and "Romeo & Juliet" for high schools, libraries, community organizations, and senior centers throughout Southern Michigan, Northern Indiana and Northern Ohio. Adapted and directed by award-winning MSF artistic director Janice L. Blixt, the productions run approximately 100 minutes and are available for booking at any time throughout the year.

Over the past four years, the MSF has brought live Shakespeare to more than 40,000 students in Bay, Branch, Calhoun, Genesee, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties in Michigan, plus Henry and Lucas Counties in Ohio, and Allen and DeKalb Counties in Indiana. "The touring shows are designed to work in large theater spaces with modern tech or in smaller lecture halls or non-theatrical spaces if that's what a group has available," explained Blixt. "They're done in a manner similar to how Shakespeare's own company would have produced the plays: a combination of modern sensibilities and 'period' embellishments. It's about giving the feeling of an era, but not taking away a modern audience's ability to see these characters as real people."

The MSF Touring Company is made up of young professional artists from Southeastern Michigan: Jackie Bery, Meredith Deighton, Stefanie Din, Eric Eilersen, Rick Eva, Dan Johnson, Philip Kautz, Dennis Kleinsmith, Marcus Laban, Derek Ridge, and Natalie Rose. The entire company is featured in both productions in true repertory fashion.

When asked what his favorite part of performing the tour is, actor Daniel A. Helmer said, "Shakespeare offers such a vibrant perspective to issues we confront daily, and being a part of a tour that explores these subjects with students and allows for the discussion to begin for improving themselves by their own choice is a cherished idea for me."

Playing Peter in "Romeo & Juliet," Laban added, "Besides the fun of performing in different places and getting to travel around with your cast mates, it's very gratifying as an actor when you realize students truly understood the language of the play and the performance we give as a company. Shakespeare is really meant to be seen and heard, and the tour gives the students the unique chance to see the play they read in class come to life."

Although the length of the shows are somewhat reduced, the exciting stage action isn't. MSF resident fight director David Blixt stated, "Both of these shows are extremely fight-heavy, with rapiers flying in 'Romeo & Juliet' and broadswords clanging in 'Macbeth.' The cast has worked tirelessly as I put them through their paces, and the result is as exciting and as vibrant as I could have ever dreamed."

Tickets are $8 per
 person, with a minimum of 150 audience members per show. (Teachers, chaperones and organizers each receive a complimentary ticket). Performances can be scheduled by contacting Hannah Noth, MSF booking manager, at

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