Quintessence Theatre to Present Shakespeare's MACBETH This Spring

Macbeth is set to run March 14-April 21.

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Quintessence Theatre to Present Shakespeare's MACBETH This Spring
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Quintessence Theatre’s Season XIV will continue with a production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, on stage this March and April at the Sedgwick Theater in Mt. Airy. The play that carries with it the lore of a curse so that many will only refer to the title as “The Scottish Play,” Macbeth chronicles the ends to which one couple will go to grab and hold political power, and the destruction that follows. Gripped by his own ambition and spurred on by his wife, a Scottish general and war-hero turned King leads a prophesied journey of greatness, tyranny, murder, and madness. Macbeth is directed by Quintessence Producing Artistic Director, Alex Burns.         

In a reflection of original Shakespearean casting, the Macbeth cast of eleven is all male-identifying. In addition, a team of Philadelphia-based special effects designers will bring to life the supernatural and horror elements of the play. Burns has assembled a cast of Quinessence regulars and actors who are making their Company debuts. Acclaimed Shakespearean actor Scott Parkinson* will play Lady Macbeth in his QTG debut. Other debuts include Owen Corey, Jamison Foreman*, Corneilus Franklin*, Vaughn Meccod, River Moore, Christopher Patrick Mullen*, and Zachary Valdez.  Quintessence is also welcoming back Daniel Miller, who is playing the titular King, Lee Thomas Cortopassi, Joshua Kachnycz, and Ken Sandberg*.  

Macbeth is set to run March 14-April 21. Opening Night is Saturday, March 23 at 7:30PM. All performances are at Quintessence’s home - the historic Sedgwick Theater located at 7137 Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy.  Tickets start at $25 and are available online at www.quintessencetheatre.org. A Pay-What-You-Can performance is March 14th at 7:30PM. 

“Quintessence is excited to return to its classic roots and the presentation of all-male Shakespeare. Following celebrated productions of Henry V, Othello, As You Like It and Richard II, I wanted to return to the traditions of all-male Shakespeare to investigate one of his most ferocious and testosterone-driven tragedies,” said Burns.  “In a moment when gender evolution and gender binary is at the forefront of civic dialogue and cultural investigation, we re-explore the traditions of the Elizabethan theatre, in which gender is a key element of theatrical artifice and performance aesthetics. The theatre is at its most powerful as a space for artifice and illusion, elevating the universal truths of our collective humanity.” 

He adds, “In Shakespeare, gender is a construct, crafted through heightened language, the power of the actor and designer, and most importantly through the theatrical imagination of the audience. While the performing artist's ability to explore the presentation and construction of gender through illusion is being challenged as either illicit and illegal,  or inauthentic and harmful, we choose to embrace this opportunity to allow Shakespeare’s theatre to re-enter the conversation.”

“Macbeth, specifically, is a play that investigates the function of violence, sanctioned and illicit, to establish power.  It is a masterpiece that interrogates the sources of human ambition, the lengths to which an individual will go to achieve and hold power, and the repercussions of violence on the human psyche. By embracing its theatricality, all-male Shakespeare will allow us to push the limits of the horror that this play demands.”

Playing Macbeth is Daniel Miller. Miller returns to QTG after appearing in the smash hit Mary Poppins as both Neilus and Bert. He recently appeared in Beauty in the Beast at Walnut Street Theatre. Scott Parkinson is cast as Lady Macbeth and is making his Quintessence debut. Parkinson, who was in the Broadway cast of The Coast of Utopia, is a Shakespearan actor based in Chicago and he played Queen Margaret in Ed Hall’s Rose Rage in Chicago and Off-Broadway. 

“I took an indefinite leave from show business a few years back, but I did not leave being an actor, so when an intriguing artistic project like this one sparks my creative impulse, I’ll move heaven and earth in order to get back into a rehearsal room,” said Parkinson. “Macbeth was the first Shakespeare play I ever performed in (in college, as Banquo), and I directed a Theatre for Young Audiences production of it in the Chicago area in the late nineties, so it’s a play that has been on my radar for a very long time. It's also a play that - for various reasons - I began to think I would never have a chance to perform professionally, much less in this particularly iconic role. I am excited to explore the dynamics of one of theatre’s greatest power couples, especially given the age difference between Daniel and myself. While I’m sure there have been productions that have cast an older Lady Macbeth before, I myself have only seen the play cast either with the Macbeths as contemporaries or in the other direction, with Macbeth having a younger wife. The reverse concept has sparked some truly interesting possibilities in my mind about what brought these two together, what keeps them together, and about how those things play out both in their marriage and in their ambitions for the crown.”

Quintessence regular Lee Thomas Cortopassi plays MacDuff. He has many Quintessence credits and returns to the Quintessence stage after appearing in Major Barbara this season and Mary Poppins and Waiting for Lefty last season. Ken Sandberg, who last appeared at Quintessence in 2015’s The Three Musketeers, returns to play Ross.   Joshua Kachnycz, who appeared in last season’s World Premiere of Written by Phillis, returns to play Lenox. 

Christopher Patrick Mullen, who recently wowed audiences in Assassins at the Arden and A Christmas Carol Comedy at Hedgerow makes his Quintessence debut as Duncan. Rounding out the cast is: Corneilus Franklin as Lady MacDuff; Jamison Foreman as Witch 2;  Owen Corey as Malcolm;  Zachary Valdez as Angus;  and Vaughn Meccod plays Banquo. River Moore is making his professional stage debut as the MacDuffs’ son. All other roles are filled out by the Ensemble. 

Director Burns also designs the set and the sound. Kelly Meyers, who designed the costumes for QTG’s The Chairs and The Wizard of Ozreturns as Costume Designer. Costume design will be informed by Jacobean fashion, 20th century Scottish military plaids, and design inspiration from Alexander McQueen. Sean Bradley, who has appeared on the Quintessence stage previously as an actor, returns as the Fight Director. Special effects including masks, heads,  will be created by Gianna Zulli and Barbaric Yawp Workshop. John “JP” Pollard* is the AEA Production Stage Manager, Leslie Ann Boyden is the AEA Assistant Stage Manager* and Cat Brennan is the Assistant Stage Manager. Bess Rowan is the Intimacy Choreographer. Ellen Moore is the Production Manager. 

Macbeth is underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest, and a Shakespeare in American Communities grant. Over 1600 Philadelphia area high school students are currently scheduled to attend special Shakespeare workshops and student matinee performances of Macbeth. 

About Quintessence Theatre 

Founded in 2009, the award-winning Quintessence Theatre is dedicated to bringing epic works of classic drama and literature to the Contemporary Stage

As Philadelphia’s text-based, actor-focused repertory theatre, Quintessence re-envisions the classics to inspire our community to consider what is essential in theatre and in human nature. 

Now in its 14th season at the Sedgwick Theater in Philadelphia’s Northwest neighborhood of Mt. Airy, Quintessence is led by Artistic Director, Alex Burns and Executive Director, Grace Grillet.  

Public and street parking is available throughout the Mt.Airy neighborhood. 

*denotes a Member of Actors’ Equity Association.