THE TAMING OF THE SHREW Opens 2017 Michigan Shakespeare Festival Season
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, the Official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan, opened their 2017 MSF Season Saturday night with an hilarious and romantic performance of Shakespeare's THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. MSF Artistic Associate John Neville-Andrews, MSF's Artistic Director from 1998-2009 and who helmed such favorites as King John directed the Elizabethan-set comedy for the MSF which stars current Artistic Director Janice L Blixt as Kate and David Blixt as Petruchio, along with Artistic Associates Janet Haley as Bianca, Robert Kauzlaric as Hortensio, Brandon St. Clair Saunders as Tranio, and Alan Ball as Gremio.
The fast-paced romp, set on a beautiful re-imagined "Elizabethan Theatre" stage designed by MSF's Jeromy Hopgood and lavishly costumed in period splendor by Suzanne Young, is a reuniting of Blixt, Blixt, and Neville-Andrews, who all met 20 years ago working on the 1997 MSF production of the same show. "Returning to it after so many years, there's a lot that we got right the first time-which we're bringing back-and yet these are different times and we are different people and so there are entirely new depths for us to explore," said David Blixt.
Opening night of the MSF also always features the announcement of the following season and there were happy gasps from the audience when Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, to be directed by Kauzlaric, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and a new compilation of both parts of Aphra Behn's 1667 bawdy comedy THE ROVER-both directed by Janice L Blixt-were announced for 2018. "It's rare that a classical theatre company produces works by a female playwright-and I love that we can bring Behn to Michigan audiences," she said.
While the renovation of the Potter Center's lobby is still underway, the MSF's Administrative Associate Daniel Helmer made the most of the stripped down walls and construction equipment with clever wall hangings containing information about the shows and other displays-making it all feel light and fun for the champagne toasts that followed the performance.
Alan Ball, an Artistic Associate and audience favorite said, "Even after seven years at MSF, the thrill of opening night never fades. After weeks of rehearsal, it's so great to see that what cracked us up at read-through is still funny to everyone else. I can't wait to see people's reactions to Caesar and Seagull!"
Returning favorites Shawn Pfautsch (2014's Hamlet and 2015's Prince Hal) as Grumio, Ian Geers as Lucentio, Eric Eilersen as Biondello, and Tobin Hissong as Baptista join newcomers Risha Tenae as the Widow, Lee Palmer as Vincentio, and Christopher L. Martin as the Pedant on the MSF stage.
Artistic Associates Jeromy and Kate Hopgood continue in their roles of Scenic Designer and Sound Designer, while David Allen Stoughton returns as Lighting Designer.
The Festival openings continue next week with JULIUS CAESAR on Saturday, July 15, and Anton Chekhov's THE SEAGULL on Sunday, Jul6 16. The shows continue in Jackson at the Potter Center through July 23 and reopen in Canton at the Village Theatre on July 28 and run through August 13.
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
By Phone in Canton at 734-394-5300
Jackson Run: Baughman Theatre
Two-for-One Preview performance of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW -- July 7 at 7:30 pm
Two-for-One Preview performance of JULIUS CAESAR - July 8 at 2:00 pm
OPENING NIGHT performance of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW - July 8 at 7:30 pm
Two-for-One Preview performance of JULIUS CAESAR - July 9 at 3:00 pm
Two-for-One Preview performance of THE SEAGULL - July 13 at 7:30 pm
Two-for-One Preview performance of THE SEAGULL - July 14 at 7:30 pm
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW-- July 15 at 2:00 pm
OPENING NIGHT performance of JULIUS CAESAR-- July 15 at 7:30 pm
OPENING performance of THE SEAGULL-- July 16 at 3:00 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 3:00 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 3:00 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 3:00 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 3:00 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).
Please note Saturday matinees are at 2 pm, Sunday matinees are at 3 pm.
Photo Credit: Melissa Szymke Adams