Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2014 Previews Begin Tonight

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2014 Previews Begin Tonight

The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2014 preview performances begin tonight, February 14, and the season will open Friday night, February 21 in the Angus Bowmer Theatre with Shakespeare's The Tempest (director, Tony Taccone). On Saturday, Lorraine Hansberry's The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (Juliette Carrillo) takes the stage, as does the classic Marx Brothers musical The Cocoanuts (David Ivers), and Sunday afternoon Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors (Kent Gash) opens in the Thomas Theatre.

"Each season I'm thrilled with the opportunity to offer our audiences the work of the world's foremost playwrights brought to life by our amazing Acting Company," said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch. "And this season, our 79th year and Shakespeare's 450th birthday, I find it very exciting that our classical theater is opening with four different types of classics: one of Shakespeare's most exuberant early works, The Comedy of Errors, his final masterpiece, The Tempest, the revival of the anarchic genius of the Marx Brothers in The Cocoanuts, and the special 50th anniversary production of a neglected classic by Lorraine Hansberry, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window.

"I'm proud, too, that we have deliberately selected a playbill where the majority of our non-Shakespeare plays are written or co-written by women. In addition to the uniquely American story by Lorraine Hansberry, we are presenting the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Water by the Spoonful, by Quiara Alegría Hudes; a world premiere musical, Family Album, with musicco-written by Heidi Rodewald, and a world premiere adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time by TraCy Young.

"We're rechristening our outdoor space the Allen Elizabethan Theatre this season and presenting an amazing outdoor playbill that includes Richard III, with Dan Donohue in the title role, the debut at OSF of a Sondheim musical, Into the Woods, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, with an all-female cast. And the final play to open this season is the world premiere of Robert Schenkkan's The Great Society, the second part of the LBJ story that began brilliantly with All the Way in 2012."

OSF's 2014 season runs from February 14 through November 2 and is sponsored by U.S. Bank. Malia H. Wasson, president, U.S. Bank - Oregon & SW Washington, said, "For more than 30 years, U.S. Bank has been honored to support the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as a part of its commitment to artistic and cultural enrichment in the communities it serves. An icon in the Oregon arts world, OSF offers its audiences that most amazing of gifts, rich and emotional experiences. The 2014 season promises both expected and unexpected pleasures."

The Tempest (February 14 - November 2) by William Shakespeare
Lead Sponsors: U.S. Bank, Roberta and David Elliott; Production Sponsor: The Goatie Foundation; Production Partners: Lynne Carmichael, Jim Collier, Cynthia Muss Lawrence

Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, returns to direct another Shakespeare production at OSF after directing the memorable and highly popular Othello (1999) and Coriolanus (1996). This production will feature a long-absent company member, actor Denis Arndt, who will play the role of Prospero. Mr. Arndt had a long career at OSF from 1973 to 1988.

Prospero's tale begins as one of revenge: Exiled by family and friends, he has stewed for 12 long years on a remote island, sharpening his magic arts. At last, retribution seems within reach when his enemies' ship veers close to the island, but his daughter, Miranda, works a strange magic of her own on her father. Heeding her cries for mercy, he ends the storm, and in this great Shakespearean romance, sorcery and love transmute vengeance into forgiveness.

Mr. Taccone describes the setting as a "Renaissance of the imagination," where the men of the Renaissance land in a magical world populated by otherworldly creatures such as the ethereal Ariel and her dancers and the earthly Caliban.

In addition to Mr. Arndt, the cast features Alejandra Escalante as Miranda, Kate Hurster as Ariel, Wayne T. Carr as Caliban, Daniel José Molina as Ferdinand, Al Espinosa as Alonso, Jeffrey King as Antonio, Armando Durán as Sebastian, Bruce A. Young as Gonzalo, Barzin Akhavan as Trinculo, Richard Elmore as Stephano, Barret O'Brien as Boatswain and Jeremy Thompson and Kurt Langmeyer as Ensemble. Ariel Dancers are Will Cooper, Jordon Waters, Tim Rubel and David Silpa.

Scenic design is by Daniel Ostling; costumes by Anita Yavich; lighting and projections by Alexander V. Nichols; music and sound by Andre J. Pluess; and movement by John Sipes and Sonja Delwaide. Barry Kraft is dramaturg; David Carey is voice & text director; and Gwen Turos is stage manager.

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (February 15 - July 3) by Lorraine Hansberry
Production Partners: William F. Meehan III, Carole Howard

It's 1964, and Sidney Brustein is in his element: a Jewish intellectual in the heart of Greenwich Village, a hotbed of artists, activists and social upheaval. But nothing has brought him happiness-not his bohemian friends, his wife Iris, his failed folkie nightclub, or even his own lofty ideals. Then, when a turbulent political campaign sparks him into action and Iris begins yearning for a different life, he's forced to decide what's really worth fighting for. Directed by Juliette Carrillo, this 50th-anniversary production of a classic by Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) explores the rocky landscape of love, choices and consequences with poignancy and biting humor.

The script for this production has been painstakingly knit from several scripts that were previously published. The estate has given its permission for use of the new script and is delighted with the development. Director Carrillo and dramaturg Lue Morgan Douthit studied the differences and discussed the dramaturgical advantages of the various choices-very much like the literary research required for Shakespeare plays. The study illuminated the differences in stage practice among the original production in 1964, the 1987 revival at Arena Stage, and OSF's current production.

The cast features Ron Menzel as Sidney Brustein, Armando McClain as Alton Scales, Sofia Jean Gomez as Iris Parodus Brustein, Danforth Comins as Wally O'Hara, Peter Frechette as Max (2/15-3/15) and Jack Willis as Max (3/16-7/3), Erica Sullivan as Mavis Parodus Bryson, Benjamin Pelteson as David Ragin and Vivia Font as Gloria Parodus.

Scenic design is by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams; costumes are by Christal Weatherly; lighting by James F. Ingalls; music and sound by David Molina; dramaturg is Lue Morgan Douthit; Rebecca Clark Carey is voice & text director; U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director, and D. Christian Bolender is stage manager.

The Cocoanuts (February 16 - November 2) Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin; Book by George S. Kaufman; Adapted by Mark Bedard
Lead Sponsor: Deedee and Burt McMurtry; Production Partners: Karen Easterbrook and Alex Sutton, Lynn and Gary Jacobs, Avista

The anarchic and hilarious Marx Brothers return after the hugely popular 2012 production of Animal Crackers. Directed by David Ivers (The Taming of the Shrew, 2013), this production will also feature three of the actors who so brilliantly channeled the Marx Brothers two years ago. In The Cocoanuts, Groucho owns a bum hotel in Florida and peddles dubious real estate to gullible Northerners. He's after a rich society lady, who's after an eligible match for her daughter, who's in love with the hotel's clerk. Trouble rolls in when the other Marxes arrive, and the eligible match turns out to be anything but.

This production not only features a new adaptation by Mark Bedard (Groucho in both the 2012 production of Animal Crackers and this season's production), but also songs not heard since the original Broadway show in 1925. When Mr. Bedard became interested in recreating a Marx Brothers classic for OSF, he started his research with the archival script of the 1927 New York production. As he began working with music director Gregg Coffin, they realized that many songs from the play were cut from the movie and became passionate about restoring songs. Unable to find them through the Berlin estate, they sought help at the Library of Congress, and the OSF team discovered and accounted for 25 Irving Berlin musical numbers. This production will use full versions of 17 songs, and use the remainder for transitions.

The cast features Mark Bedard as Mr. Hammer (Groucho), Brent Hinkley as Harpo, JOHN TUFTS as Chico, Eduardo Placer as Robert Jamison (Zeppo), K.T. Vogt as Mrs. Potter, Jennie Greenberry as Polly Potter, Robert Vincent Frank as Harvey Yates, Kate Mulligan as Penelope Martin, David Kelly as Detective Hennessey, Katie Bradley as Trixie, Erin O'Connor as Coco, and Miles Fletcher as Nate. Musicians are Darcy Danielson, Jim Malachi, Bruce McKern, Michael Caruso and Aaron Moffatt.

Scenic design is by Richard L. Hay, costume design by Meg Neville; lighting by Marcus Doshi; sound design by Corinne Carrillo. Gregg Coffin is music director. Choreography by Jaclyn Miller, assisted by Robert Petrarca. Julie Felise Dubiner is dramaturg on the project. Rebecca Clark Carey is voice & text director, U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director, and Mandy Younger is stage manager.

The Comedy of Errors (February 20-November 2) by William Shakespeare
Production Sponsor: The Robert and Star Pepper Foundation; Production Partners: Jim Collier, Anonymous Applegate Donors, Andrew and Brenda Birrell

Shakespeare's crazy comedy about two sets of twins unaware of each other's existence offers countless opportunities for mistaken identities and mass confusion. In this production, Antipholus and Dromio of the rural South (Syracuse in Shakespeare's story) travel north to the big city and find themselves in the heart of the Harlem Renaissance (Ephesus)-and surprise! Suddenly there are two sets of identical Antipholi and Dromios. Chaos ensues, and meanwhile the clock is ticking down for a family member who is about to be executed. But this is a comedy, so count on one wild reunion and a pardon.

The cast features Rodney Gardiner as both Dromios, Tobie Windham as the Antipholi, Omoze Idehenre as Adriana, Monique Robinson as Luciana, Tyrone Wilson as Egeon, R. J. Foster as Duke Solinus, Bakesta King as Courtesan, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp as Dr. Pinch, Ramiz Monsef as Angelo, Franchelle Stewart Dorn as Emilia, Steven Sapp as Balthazar, Keith Leroyal and Jerome Preston Bates as Merchants and Mark Murphey as Jailer.

The scenic designer is Jo Winiarski, costumes are by Kara Harmon, lighting by Dawn Chiang, music and sound by Justin Ellington and Matt Callahan, video and projections by Shawn Duan and choreography by Byron Easley. Martine Kei Green-Rogers is dramaturg; Dawn-Elin Fraser is voice and text director; U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director, and Jeremy Eisen is stage manager.

Biographies of directors, designers and actors for the 2014 season can all be found www.osfashland.org. Tickets remain available to previews and most opening performances. Patrons can save 40 percent on preview tickets. Please check ticket availability www.osfashland.org or call the Box Office at 541-482-4331 or 800-219-8161.

Preview and opening times and dates are as follows:

The Tempest Friday, Feb. 14, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Tempest Tuesday, Feb. 18, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Tempest Friday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. (opening)

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window Saturday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window Wednesday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window Saturday, Feb. 22, 1:00 p.m. (opening, please note special start time)

The Cocoanuts Sunday, Feb. 16, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Cocoanuts Thursday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Cocoanuts Saturday, Feb. 22, 8 p.m. (opening)

The Comedy of Errors Thursday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Comedy of Errors Friday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. (preview)

The Comedy of Errors Sunday, Feb. 23, 1:30 p.m. (opening)

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