Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16

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First Folio Theatre will close its landmark 15th season with William Shakespeare's most controversial play, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, directed by Artistic Director, Alison C. Vesely, opening July 16 through August 19.

BroadwayWorld has a first look at the production photos below.

A Venetian merchant named Antonio (Michael Joseph Mitchell), willing to sacrifice anything for the budding romance of his dear friend Bassanio (Kevin McKillip), agrees to offer a pound of his own flesh as collateral in a deal with Shylock (Michael Goldberg), a Jewish moneylender and also his bitter rival. When Shylock demands the gruesome payment, it falls to Bassino's lover, a young heiress named Portia (Melanie Keller), disguised as a male lawyer, to save Antonio from the consequences of his anti-Semitism. Set in 16th century Venice, the Bard's dark tale challenges prejudices and fears about religion, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. A mesmerizing drama ahead of its time, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is as timeless as it is true to today's society.

The cast of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE also features Gary F. Barth as “Salerio,” Luke Daigle as “Lorenzo,” Michael Mercier as “Salanio,” Kris Reilly as “Gratiano,” Hayley L. Rice as “Nerissa,” René Ruelas as “Duke”/“Tubal,” Nate Santana as “Lancelot,” and Cassidy Stirtz as “Jessica.” The ensemble includes Robbie Bersano, Stephan Collins-Stepney, Lane Flores, Michael Holding, Whitney Morse, Batuhan Ozturk, and Emma Thatcher.

The artistic team includes Ann Davis (Scenic Artist), Stanton Davis (Vocal Coach), Kyle Kevin Gettelman (Technical Director), Christopher Kriz (Sound Designer), Rachel Lambert (Costume Designer), Michael McNamara (Lighting Designer), Angela Weber Miller (Scenic Designer), and Kayla Straub (Properties Artisan).

All performances take place at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, which is owned and operated by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Situated on the lawn next to the lovely Portiuncula Chapel, First Folio’s outdoor mainstage is the perfect venue for Shakespeare under the stars. The gates open at 6:45 p.m., giving audience members plenty of time to enjoy a picnic before the 8:15 p.m. start time. Featuring unlimited lawn seating, attendees are invited to bring their own chairs or blankets, or rent one for $2 each at the concession stand. Not only will audiences see some of the best Chicago-area actors on stage, they may also catch sight of local wildlife, such as hawks, owls, deer, swifts and foxes. Biweekly mosquito abatement is conducted to ensure comfort, and free repellent is offered at the site. Concessions as well as pre-ordered box suppers from La Cuisine (prepaid 48 hours in advance) are also available. Located at 1717 W 31st St., just off Rt. 83, in Oak Brook, First Folio is easy to get to from either the East-West Tollway (I-88) or the Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Free parking is available on the grounds.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE runs July 11th through August 19th on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:15 p.m. Tickets range $26-36 with special discounts for Students and Seniors. Tickets for preview performances are $22. Season subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 630.986.8067 or online at www.firstfolio.org.

Photo Credit:  David Rice

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16
Melanie Keller, René Ruelas, Michael Goldberg, Michael Joseph Mitchell, Hayley L. Rice, and Kevin McKillip

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16
Kris Reilly, Hayley L. Rice, Melanie Keller, and Kevin McKillip

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16
René Ruelas, Michael Goldberg, and Michael Joseph Mitchell

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16
Luke Daigle and Cassidy Stirtz

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16
Kevin McKillip, Michael Joseph Mitchell, and Michael Goldberg

Photo Flash: First Look at Michael Joseph Mitchell and More in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, Opening 7/16

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