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Houston Shakespeare Festival 2016 Plays


The timeless theater of the Bard returns to the Bayou City courtesy of Shakespeare Festival 2016. This summer, the festival features MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and HENRY V.

For more than 40 years, the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance has delivered the Houston Shakespeare Festival (HSF) to eager audiences. This year's event will continue this tradition with free performances of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING directed by Jack Young and HENRY V directed by Lenny Banovez.

"We're looking forward to another season of entertaining Houstonians," says associate professor Rob Shimko, who will take the reins as the festival's executive director. "Last year, the festival drew more than 37,000 people to Miller Outdoor Theatre. I look forward to sharing the works of Shakespeare with even more people this summer."

Shimko is also looking forward to seeing several familiar faces back in Houston. The 2016 HSF Company will include many former UH students who are now flourishing as professional actors. Brendan Marshall-Rashid plays the title role in HENRY V and Demetria Thomas is Beatrice in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Supporting cast includes Patrick Poole, Tim Sailer, Susie Parr and Andrew Garrett, all of whom perform in both plays.

"These are actors who are applying what they learned at UH to their professional careers," Shimko said. "I remember seeing them as students honing their talents on our stages. Now they are performing for audiences around the country. We're honored to welcome these acting alums back to the city."

Actors not only will reunite with local audiences, but with former professor and HSF artistic director Young, who will direct them in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Young has directed more than 120 plays including 30 Shakespeare productions. He has acted in and directed HSF plays since 2011. Among the festival plays he's helmed are THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (2011), HENRY IV, I (2014) and MACBETH (2015). Audiences also will recall his villainous portrayals of Shylock in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2015) and Iago in OTHELLO (2011).

His fellow director Banovez is no stranger to Shakespeare either. As artistic director for Titan Theatre Company in New York, he has directed productions of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, ROMEO AND JULIET, HENRY V, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, and MACBETH. Banovez has worked with several national festivals including the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Shakespeare Festival and Milwaukee Shakespeare Festival as well.

In addition to producing plays at Miller Outdoor Theatre, the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance hosts the HSF Conservatory. This 17-day summer camp provides professional theater training to high school students. Participants have the opportunity to perform in festival productions and learn from veteran actors and directors.

The Houston Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1975 by Sidney Berger, UH professor emeritus and longtime director of University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance. Since its inception, the festival has entertained thousands of Houstonians and attracted national theater talents. Previous HSF performers include Seth Gilliam, OBIE-award winner Brandon Dirden, Crystal Dickinson, Mirron Willis, Ken Ruta, Mark Metcalf and Cindy Pickett. Festival alumni also include film and television star Brett Cullen and actor/writer Robert Wuhl, who both contributed their talents while attending UH.

The festival opens July 29. Closing night is August 7. All performances begin at 8:15 p.m. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING dates are July 29, July 31 and August 2, 4, and 6. HENRY V dates are July 30 and August 3, 5, and 7. Through August 7. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, please call 281-373-3386 or visit Free.

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