DETROIT, Mich.–The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to announce the role of King Lear will be played by John Lepard: one of the founders and currently Executive Director of Williamston Theatre and a well-known favorite of many Michigan stages. Lepard is a multi-Wilde Award Winner, Lansing State Journal Best Actor Winner, Detroit Free Press Winner, and Oakland Press Winner for his powerful and empathetic performances. Seen recently as Anthony in Outside Mullingar, O’Brien in 1984, and George Pitou in Memoir at Williamston, as well as Aarons in Harrassment of Iris Malloy at Detroit Public Theatre, and his tour de force in Tipping Point Theatre’s The Wonderful Life, Lepard is a familiar face on television (Chicago Fire, Detroiters, Detroit 187 and General Hospital) and in film (The Last Words of Henry Ford, Eloise, Batman v Superman, Scream 4, Conviction, Whip It, and Super Sucker).
King Lear, which will be directed by MSF Artistic Director Janice L Blixt, will be set in the 8th century AD, Britain, and will feature Artistic Associate Alan Ball as Gloucester (Caliban, The Tempest, 2018) and returning MSF favorites Shawn Pfautsch (Hamlet, 2014, Hal in Henry IV and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2015) as Edmund and Laurence Stepney (last season’s Colonel Belvile inThe Rover and Claudio in Measure for Measure) as Cornwall.
In the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac, the MSF is proud to announce Artistic Associate and Festival Fight Director David Blixt. Blixt first appeared at the MSF in 1996 as Mercutio in R&J and has appeared on the mainstage more than 25 times in such roles as Macbeth, Oberon, The Douglas, Petruchio, Berowne, Orsino, Marc Antony, and his Wilde Award Winning – Best Actor in a Comedy turn as Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest, 2014. In addition to his many roles at the MSF, he has been featured at The Goodman Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington DC, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, CityLit, Northlight, and the First Folio Shakespeare Festival.Blixt was the first-ever MSF Artistic Associate, named in 2000, and has served as Fight Director of the mainstage and the Tour since 2010. He has also served as Fight Director for The Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington DC (King Lear with Stacy Keach), Hope Summer Rep, First Folio Shakespeare Festival, InFusion Theatre, and the beloved but now defunct Defiant Theatre – and has been nominated twice for Joseph Jefferson Awards for his fights.
CYRANO DE BERGERAC will be directed by Artistic Associate Janice L Blixt and will be set in a mixed media combination of mid-17th century Paris and classic cinematic style.
Rounding out the program for MSF summer of 2019 is Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona.