FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Thursday: WINTER'S TALE's Cash, Meinerding & Tustin
One of Music City's longest running summer theater traditions continues tonight with the debut of 2017's Shakespeare in the Park, Nashville Shakespeare Festival's annual gift to a generation of theater audiences. This year's edition of Shakespeare in the Park will feature two of the Bard's best known works - The Winter's Tale, which opens tonight, and Antony & Cleopatra, which opens next Thursday night at the Centennial Park Band Shell.
Nashville Shakes' artistic director, Denice Hicks, describes tonight's production, directed by Santiago Sosa and featuring a cast of the region's finest actors, thusly: "The Winter's Tale is a fascinating romance, and Santiago's direction and vision of the play will transport the audience into a wondrous world where jealousy creates great suffering and faith restores joy. It has been 12 years since we have presented The Winter's Tale, and I look forward to audience reactions to the story and its pairing with Antony & Cleopatra, which opens a week later on August 17."
Today, three members of the ensemble of actors performing both plays - Joseph Cash, Emily Meinerding and Autumn Tustin - offer some insight into what makes them tick and explain what it is about The Winter's Tale that should ensure your attendance one of these starry summer nights. Read their responses to our queries in today's edition of Friday 5 (+1) on Thursday, then make your plans to join Nashville Shakespeare Festival in Centennial Park for a theater tradition unlike any other...
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My first taste of live theatre was seeing Wicked way back when.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I wouldn't consider myself as a very superstitious person, so I tend not to have a specific pre-show ritual, save for the vocal and physical warmups we have been learning in the Apprentice Company / Journeymen.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? There have been only couple moments on stage when I've forgotten a line or been lost for a moment, stuck in terror that seems to go on for much longer than it does for the audience, or so I'm told, but from the stories I've heard I'm lucky, and sometimes missing out, to have so few "the show must go on" moments.
What's your dream role? My dream role is whichever part I'm cast as next. (But maybe in twenty years Macbeth is cool too.)
Who's your theatrical crush? I can't say I've thought about it, so I don't know who my theatrical crush would be.
Why should people come see THE WINTER'S TALE? Because this The Winter's Tale is lively, fun, heartbreaking, heartwarming, a fresh take on an under-rated show, and in Centennial Park August through September!
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? When a tour of Peter Pan passed through my childhood hometown, it rocked my seven-year-old world and swiftly swept me into the joy and magic of live storytelling.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Impromptu dance parties! They serve as a nerves and stress reliever, a physical warm up, an energizer, it improves cast bonding...you just can't go wrong.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? In high school, I played Betty in a community production of The Crucible, and during a performance, one of the two benches serving as my bed lost a leg and collapsed on the floor at the top of the first act. So, for half of the scene I played asleep on the floor, then used a very timely screaming spasm to squeeze myself back onto the remaining half of the bed so as to not disrupt the following scene's dialogue and blocking. Hey, what happens in Salem stays in Salem, right?
What's your dream role? Fantine in Les Miserables, Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing.
Who's your theatrical crush? David Tennant.
Why should people come see THE WINTER'S TALE? This play is an absolutely beautiful fairy tale with very real people experiencing the real consequences of jealousy, pride, and anger, but also the real joy of love, grace, and second chances. I was blown away the first time I read it, and this production with NSF is nothing short of magical. Don't miss it!
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? When I was younger, my family lived in Nairobi, Kenya for a few years. While living there, I attended a high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird and was enthralled by the story and the presence of the actors onstage. They were people I saw every day, but with costumes and makeup and direction, they created another world that the audience could step into. I've been interested in theatre ever since.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I so appreciate all the directors I've worked with across the years who have stressed the importance of warming up before shows. It's invaluable, but easy to miss if you're running around looking for mic tape or eyeliner - the list goes on. After a summer with Nashville Shakespeare, my favorite thing to do before going onstage is to squat and hold my tongue while reciting an audition monologue. It seems crazy, but I am always tingling with energy afterward, and have much stronger enunciation onstage.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? A few years back I was "Hodel" in a production of Fiddler on the Roof. Our Tevye was busy discussing the good book with his fellow villagers and handing out cheese wheels from his wagon, when one cheese got dislodged and rolled 20 feet across the stage, off the stage, onto the floor, and continued rolling for another 10 feet before landing at an audience member's foot. Tevye lunged for it, landing like a goalie in the net, before a child in the audience walked up to him and presented the cheese wheel at the lip of the stage. There were about 1,200 people in attendance that night and every one of them was holding their breath, then laughing hysterically as Tevye thanked the child and made some quip about cheese and God before returning to the script.
What's your dream role? I am a little obsessed with Anya in Anastasia right now, anything from Sondheim or Jason Robert Brown as they write such incredible leading ladies, and either Helena or Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as I have such fond memories associated with that play. Mainly, being cast in anything is a dream and I feel lucky to just be where I am right now!
Who's your theatrical crush? When Jeremy Jordan sings anything, I melt. I could wax poetic about his vocal and acting abilities, but I'll hold back for everyone's sanity.
Why should people come see THE WINTER'S TALE? This production of The Winter's Tale is an onstage fairy tale that will make you laugh and cry and feel all the feels! The script has been so well cut and lovingly discussed by the cast and crew that the story really shines. It's bright and colorful and moving and and truly not a performance to miss!
About The Winter's Tale Nashville Shakespeare Festival presents its latest version of The Winter's Tale, directed by NSF artistic associate and apprentice company director Santiago Sosa, the 2017 season opening production of Shakespeare in the Park this Thursday, August 10, at Centennial Park's band shell.
"The Winter's Tale is a fascinating romance, and Santiago's direction and vision of the play will transport the audience into a wondrous world where jealousy creates great suffering and faith restores joy," according to Denice Hicks, executive artistic director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. "It has been 12 years since we have presented The Winter's Tale, and I look forward to audience reactions to the story and its pairing with Antony & Cleopatra, which opens a week later on August 17."
The Winter's Tale is a fanciful story set in a fairy tale world of contrasting peoples inspired by the diverse South American cultures during the Gran Colombia era. The performance also features original music by Natalie Bell, who composed the score for Winter Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet at Belmont's Troutt Theater.
The Winter's Tale will be performed at Centennial Park on August 10-13, 24-25 and September 2-4, 7-8, 16-17. The play will then travel to Franklin's Academy Park for two performances on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, October 1.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early for the best blanket and lawn chair space or find an available seat on the benches or bleachers. Food trucks begin serving at 6 p.m. with featured vendors, such as Jeni's Ice Cream, Lil' Choo Choo BBQ, Moosehead Kettle Corn, King Tut's and Dose Coffee. The free Talking Shakespeare series with nightly special guest speakers also begins at 6 p.m. with pre-show entertainment starting at 6:30 p.m. The featured performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.
General admission is open to the public with a $10 per person donation suggested. Royal Packages are available for those seeking the ultimate VIP experience. This package is the festival's signature fundraiser and includes reserved parking, prime seating, a gourmet picnic dinner from Bacon & Caviar Catering, personal welcome from the Nashville Shakespeare Festival staff and a souvenir gift for $75.
The 2017 season of Shakespeare in the Park will kick-off with The Winter's Tale on August 10, followed by Antony & Cleopatra beginning on August 17 and directed by David Ian Lee. One cast performs both shows in repertory. Shakespeare in the Park is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and The Tennessee Arts Commission.
To purchase the Royal Package, for more information or to book a Royal Box, visit www.nashvilleshakes.org, email email@example.com or call (615) 255-2273.