Marion Markham Celebrates Latest Success In Colonial Theatre's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
When the Colonial Theatre of Rhode Island's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream recently won the Westerly Sun Readers Choice Award for Best Live Production of 2019, perhaps no other company member celebrated more fervently than actress Marion Markham.
The show, helmed by Canadian director Michael Scholar Jr, was produced by the Colonial as its annual Shakespeare in the Park presentation in Wilcox Park, Westerly, and ran from August 2 through 18. The Westerly Sun newspaper awarded the production its top honor for live theatre in Westerly late last month.
In an inspired example of gender bending casting, veteran thespian Markham played 'Petra' Quince, head of the 'mechanicals' theatre troupe in the Shakespearean comedy, and received stellar reviews for her work.
For Markham however, her role in the production brought one aspect of her career full circle- she played the character of Puck in the same play the last time the Colonial produced Midsummer some two decades ago.
" If you're in the game long enough, history has a way of bringing you face to face with your past and that's exactly what happened to me with Midsummer, " she says. "To have the chance to do it all again in a different role, with a different company, was magical. And after some production challenges during our run, to have been voted the Best Live Production in Westerly meant the world. I'm very happy for us all but especially for the Colonial."
Playing Quince, a role originally written by Shakespeare as male, and having the chance to use her musical talents as part of the show's live band in the latest production were additional perks.
"We played the mechanicals in this production like blue collar construction workers, with me being the foreman," she laughs. "So I used my thickest Bronx accent and wore faded blue jeans with a hard hat and neon colored construction vest. It was a wonderful way to delve into Quince and really sparked my creative energy. And then to be able to play my accordion as part of the band- comprised of the actors playing the mechanicals- was the icing on the cake. It was the most wonderful way to come back to a show I really love."
In a career spanning nearly four decades, Markham, who divides her time between New York City and Westerly, is something of a legend at the Colonial. She has appeared in over 50 productions at the theatre, many in the park, playing several of Shakespeare's most renowned characters.
Her resume includes Gertrude in Hamlet, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Kate in The Taming Of The Shrew, Lady Macduff in Macbeth and Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, to name but a few. Other productions apart from the Colonial include dramas such as Crimes of The Heart and Dancing at Lughnasa as well as musicals including La Cage Aux Folles, Fiddler on The Roof and a European tour of West Side Story in which she played Maria.
But she will be the first to admit that something special occurs whenever she performs at the Colonial.
"I grew up here, got married here and am the resident cabaret singer at the Ocean House Hotel. Rhode Island will always be home in a very special way and so to perform for the Westerly audiences in Wilcox Park doing Shakespeare is something I truly relish. Doing Midsummer here again after all these years has been a major highlight of my career to date. I'm looking forward to the challenge of next summer's production where hopefully I can be part of it all again."