Married Couple to Return for 20th Anniversary TAMING OF THE SHREW at Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Twenty years ago the fledgling Jackson Shakespeare Festival mounted a production of The Taming Of The Shrew.
In the director's chair was internationally-renowned actor/director/playwright John Neville-Andrews. On stage was the first pairing of Janice Waldron and David Blixt, playing opposite each other as Kate and Petruchio. Waldron had just graduated from the Hilberry conservatory program in Detroit, while Ann Arbor native Blixt had performed as Mercutio at the festival the previous year. The results were electric.
This summer all three are reuniting in the show that brought them together. Twenty years later, the now-married couple return to the roles in which they met, once again under the guidance of John Neville-Andrews.
The Taming Of The Shrew is, of course, a notoriously difficult play for modern audiences. The unique bond the two Blixts bring to the show allows an exploration of gender roles and partnership, as Kate and Petruchio's contentious relationship grows into a competition - one that Kate eventually wins.
The festival itself has grown exponentially. Named the festival's first Artistic Director, Neville-Andrews set its course for the next dozen years. As audiences came from further away, the name was changed to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival to reflect its broad appeal. In 2003 it received the official stamp of approval as the state legislature named the MSF 'The Official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan.'
Meanwhile, Waldron and Blixt kept being cast opposite each other - Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Titania and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lady Macbeth and her husband in Macbeth. Fate, Shakespeare, and John Neville-Andrews kept bringing them together.
At last they succumbed and married, honeymooning in Petruchio's home town of Verona. Janice founded a theatre company in Chicago, bringing Shakespeare to schools for thousands of students. Three years later the two Blixts reprised their roles as Kate and Petruchio under the direction of beloved Boarshead Artistic Director Kristine Thatcher. In 2007 David's first novel, The Master Of Verona, was published, including both Kate and Petruchio as characters. That same summer he returned to play the title role in Macbeth at the MSF.
In 2009 Neville-Andrews stepped down as Artistic Director, and suggested Janice to replace him. In the eight years since Blixt took over, the award-winning festival has expanded to a six-week theatrical experience with a devoted and ever-growing following. The MSF now performs at two locations - Jackson's Baughman Theatre and The Village Theater of Cherry Hill in Canton.
In 2013 Neville-Andrews returned to direct King John, long a passion project for him, and suggested returning again to Shrew. Janice and David were both game, and it was decided to make it a 20th anniversary show. Paired with Julius Caesar and Blixt's new adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull, with returning favorites like Shawn Pfautsch and Tobin Hissong, along with MSF Artistic Associates Janet Haley, Robert Kauzlaric, Brandon Saunders, and Alan Ball, with sets by Jeromy Hopgood, lights by Dave Stoughton, and original music by festival composer Kate Hopgood, the 2017 Michigan Shakespeare Festival promises to combine both old and new for the best season ever!
The MSF will open July 6 at the Baughman Theatre in Jackson and re-open July 28 at the Village Theatre of Canton. The 2018 Season will be announced at July 8th's Gala Opening of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Tickets for THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, JULIUS CAESAR, and THE SEAGULL are now available: Online at www.MichiganShakespeareFestival.com; By Phone in Jackson at 517-796-8600; and By Phone in Canton at 734-394-5300.
Jackson Run: Baughman Theatre
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW - July 6 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW -- July 7 at 7:30 pm
JULIUS CAESAR - July 8 at 2:00 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW - July 8 at 7:30
JULIUS CAESAR - July 9 at 2:00 pm
THE SEAGULL - July 13 at 7:30 pm
THE SEAGULL - July 14 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW-- July 15 at 2:00 pm
JULIUS CAESAR-- July 15 at 7:30 pm
THE SEAGULL-- July 16 at 2:00 pm
THE SEAGULL-- July 20 at 7:30 pm
JULIUS CAESAR-- July 21 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW-- July 22 at 2:00 pm
THE SEAGULL-- July 22 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW-- July 23 at 2:00 pm
Canton Run: Village Theatre
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW-- July 28 at 7:30 pm
THE SEAGULL: July 29 at 2:00 pm
JULIUS CAESAR: July 29 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: July 30 at 2:00 pm
JULIUS CAESAR: August 3 at 7:30 pm
JULIUS CAESAR: August 4 at 7:30 pm
THE SEAGULL: August 5 at 2:00 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: August 5 at 7:30 pm
JULIUS CAESAR: August 6 at 2:00 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: August 10 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: August 11 at 7:30 pm
JULIUS CAESAR: August 12 at 2:00 pm
THE SEAGULL: August 12 at 7:30 pm
THE SEAGULL: August 13 at 2:00 pm
Reduced price Flexpasses for all three shows are available by calling the venue in which you plan to attend the productions (cannot be used across sites, good at one venue only).