Park Square Theatre Sets KING LEAR in Prohibition Era

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Park Square Theatre Sets KING LEAR in Prohibition Era

Park Square Theatre takes a new approach as it brings King Lear, Shakespeare's tragic tale of the aging king of Britain, to the stage October 19-November 11, 2012.

Director Peter Moore places the classic story in a setting reminiscent of Prohibition-era America. Lear, the patriarch of an organized crime family, misjudges which child to trust. Daughters betray fathers and brothers betray brothers. At the start of the play Lear is a man who has everything; by the end he has nothing.

"Lear is, first and foremost, about family; no one has the ability to hurt us as much as those we love," states Moore. He has set his telling of the story in a 20th-century crime family to focus in on the themes of family, loyalty and power. "Nowhere else are those three values so dearly held in one organization as the Mafia and it seems to be a perfect way to illuminate the play for a contemporary American audience," explains Moore, although he adds that while the production may have the look of 1972 film The Godfather, there will be no Tommy-guns or gangsters speaking Shakespeare in nasal Brooklyn accents. Creative adaptations will provide Park Square's audiences with a new experience with this classic. Set in a large unnamed American city, Lear's wandering on the heath will take place in a desolate urban area, the storm amplified by the turmoil of the city; lights, traffic, and sirens will facilitate the inner-struggle of the ailing king.

Director Moore has put together a stellar cast for this powerful production. Raye Birk, a favorite Twin Cities actor who appears frequently at the Guthrie-most recently in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys-has been working with Moore on interpreting Lear in a contemporary setting. Birk will be joined by Gabriele Angieri, Jennifer Blagen, Gary Briggle, Stephen D'Ambrose, Kayla Dvorak, Daniel Gerhart, Shawn Hamilton, Terry Hempleman, Adam King, Jim Lichtscheidl, Billy Mullaney, Adelin Phelps, Stacia Rice, and E.J. Subkaviak.

The artistic production team includes Michael Anderson (Fight Choreographer), Amy Bouthilette (Properties Designer), Elena Giannetti (Assistant Director), Amy B. Kaufman (Costume Designer), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer), Evan Middlesworth (Sound Designer), and Rick Polenek (Scenic Designer).

George Bernard Shaw wrote, "No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear." After the English Restoration, the production's conclusion was edited in order to have a happy ending more suited to the sensibilities of a 17th-century audience. However, that was not long-lived, and since the 19th century, the original version has been regarded by critics and scholars as Shakespeare's supreme achievement. The original ending will remain intact at Park Square.

Performance Schedule: Previews open October 19 and run through October 25. Opening night is Friday, October 26 and the play runs through Sunday, November 11. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in the company's intimate 340-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.

Ticket prices: Previews: $25. Regular Run $38 & $58. Discounts are available for seniors, military, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, open from 12 noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.

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