THE SCHOOL FOR LIES Heats Up Park Square, Beg. Tonight
Park Square cracks the ice of winter with a wickedly funny satire inspired by Molière's The Misanthrope. THE SCHOOL FOR LIES by David Ives (whose Venus in Fur was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012) storms the stage in a production led by Amy Rummenie, Artistic Director of Walking Shadow Theatre Company, in her Park Square directing debut. The play was a runaway hit for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre Company and Park Square is incorporating costumes and scenic elements from that production.
"The plot itself is a brassy and prickly comedy of aristocratic manners and high society posturing, yet there's a genuine core of honest humanity underneath it all," says Rummenie. Artistic Director Richard Cook agrees. "I always love looking at and listening to Molière's plays, but I never find myself caring about the characters. This script really drew me into a truly touching human love story - I found myself rooting for the lovers. I always seek to have a directing debut in each season and I felt this was a perfect project for Amy."
For her part, Rummenie is excited to work at Park Square. "I thought it would be intimidating to be the new kid on the block" she admits, "but everybody has been clear, communicative, and supportive from my very first day on the job. Even my conversations with the other directors in this season confirm it: Park Square supports their artists, and allows them the freedom to explore and create. And I think the Park Square audience is going to eat this up: it's deviously charming and smart - just right for them."
"Visually, our production will be a sparkling and glittery feast, all gilded wood, luxurious crystal chandeliers, and extravagantly bright costumes," confirms Rummenie. "But for me, the best parts of the show linger just underneath all those trappings of glamour. I'm going to be keeping my eye on finding that clear focus, letting the actors reach through that stylish veneer to the show's more vulnerable soul, its goofy lovely heart."
For classical purists Moliere's plot and satire are there, loud and clear, and the time is unchanged - 1666. The show is also written in rhyming iambic pentameter. Surrounded by suitors, the beautiful widow Celimene (and her cousin Eliante) favors Frank (a man whose personality is summed up in his name). With that framework, Ives moves us into understanding the show from our own time. He's modernized the references without changing the time period, and the result is a series of winks and nods to the audience that lets them in on the jokes. He also adds plot elements and character turns reminiscent of Shakespeare, Sheridan and classic British comedy. "While it's not the Molière we've come to expect," admits Rummenie, "I suspect it's closest to Moliere as it was in his time: ballsy and irreverent. It's a wicked pleasure!"
The cast includes many Park Square debuts, including Kate Guentzel (Celimene), John Middleton (Frank), Skyler Nowinski (Dubois/Basque), David Beukema (Clitander), Brandon Bruce (Oronte), Jason Rojas (Philinte), John Catron (Acaste), Anna Hickey (Eliante), and Andrea Wollenberg (Arsinoe).
THE SCHOOL FOR LIES' creative team includes Robin McIntyre (Scenic Designer), Sarah Holmberg (Props Designer), Elin Anderson (Costume Supervisor), Katharine Horowitz (Sound Designer) and Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer). Jamie J. Kranz is stage manager.
Performance Schedule: Previews begin tonight, January 10 and run through January 16. Friday, January 17 is Opening Night, and the run continues through February 2. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in the company's intimate 348-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.
Ticket prices: Previews: $25 and $35. Regular Run: $38 and $58. Discounts are available for seniors, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. 7th Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.
Photo Credit: Patronella Ytsma