Michigan Shakespeare Festival runs July 11 through August 18
JACKSON/CANTON—Michigan Shakespeare Festival opens its 25th anniversary season with King Lear, and follows that classic up with The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. The festival runs in Jackson, at Jackson College’s Baughman Theatre, from July 11 through 28, and in Canton’s Village Theatre at Cherry Hill from August 2 through 18.
In King Lear, at the height of his power, his land at peace, King Lear of England abdicates his throne, dividing his power between his loyal daughters with the simple caveat that he be treated with the respect due a king. But without the mantle of kingly power, his deceitful offspring strip him of his honor, driving him into madness and the entire country into war. Lear’s blindness to the true nature of his children is mirrored by his loyal friend Gloucester’s destruction at the hands of his own treacherous illegitimate son. Considered by many to be the greatest of all Shakespeare’s plays, King Lear combines tragic family drama with epic storytelling, giving us the most heroic and the most malevolent characters in Western drama. The production is directed by MSF artistic director Janice L Blixt and features John Lepard, MSF artistic associate Alan Ball, and festival favorite Shawn Pfautsch.
In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by festival artistic associate Robert Kauzlaric, Valentine and Proteus, two young gentleman of Verona, are the best of friends. Even Proteus’ love of the fair Julia cannot break their bond. When Valentine travels to Milan, Proteus misses his best friend and is thrilled to learn that Valentine has fallen in love with Sylvia, daughter of the Duke of Milan. Proteus and Julia exchange vows of love, rings, and intentions to marry—vows he breaks when, upon traveling to Milan to see his friend, he too falls in love with Sylvia. The heartbroken Julia disguises herself as a page to follow the man she loves. Will our young lovers and fast friends find themselves and each other again? Full of mistaken identity, wacky clowns, outlaws, and lovers, Shakespeare’s first romantic comedy combines silly fun with heartfelt connection and redemption.
Cyrano de Bergerac is the most dangerous and daring of soldiers, the most romantic and stirring of poets, and the most brilliant and biting of wits in 1640s Paris. He also has the largest nose Paris has ever seen—a nose that keeps him both humbled and embarrassed by his looks and, therefore, keeps him from revealing his deep love for the beautiful Roxane. When Baron Christian arrives to join Cyrano’s company, the Guards of Gascoyne, Roxane expresses interest in the handsome-yet-dim young man. Sacrificing his happiness for hers, Cyrano agrees to help Christian by giving him the words to woo their lady. Edmond Rostand’s 1897 epic, translated into English by Brian Hooker in 1923, is a romantic, adventurous, and glorious comic-drama that has instilled itself as part of the classical cannon and introduced theater-goers to the concept of “panache.” The production is directed by festival artistic director Janice L Blixt and features festival artistic associate and festival fight director David Blixt.
Michigan Shakespeare Festival tickets and information are available online at www.michiganshakespearefestival.com.