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Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More

André De Shields heads an all-BIPOC company featuring some of the finest actors out of New York, Chicago and St. Louis.

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's production of William Shakespeare's King Lear, directed by Carl Cofield, opened in Forest Park on June 4 in St. Louis, MO. In the title role is Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin', Play On!, The Full Monty).

Check out photos below!

King Lear is the first major live theatrical event in the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely kicked off the evening's festivities by acknowledging the year we have all lived through and welcomed the audience back on this perfect summer night for the theater's return to live outdoor performance.

He was joined onstage by special guests, Democratic Rep. Cori Bush and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. Mayor Jones presented Ridgely with a Proclamation naming June 4, 2021 as King Lear/André De Shields Day in the City of St. Louis. Mayor Jones was delighted to be attending the opening night performance of King Lear as she is a big fan of André De Shields, and has enjoyed numerous summer nights at Shakespeare in the Park in previous seasons.

Performances of King Lear, part of The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's 21st summer of free Shakespeare in Forest Park, began June 2 and will continue through June 27, Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. to strictly limited capacity crowds.

André De Shields heads an all-BIPOC company featuring some of the finest actors out of New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He is joined by Brian Anthony Wilson ("The Wire," "The Sopranos") as Gloucester, acclaimed Chicago and Shakespearean actor Allen Gilmore as the Fool and St. Louis legend J. Samuel Davis as Kent. The three daughters are played by Nicole King (Cordelia) and Festival favorites Rayme Cornell (Goneril) and Jacqueline Thompson (Regan). Daniel José Molina (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Leland Fowler (TFANA) play Gloucester's sons Edgar and Edmund, respectively. The company also includes Jason J. Little (Albany), Carl Overly, Jr. (Cornwall) and Michael Tran (Oswald), as well as an ensemble of actors from The Black Rep's Professional Internship Program: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White and Christina Yancy.

King Lear is considered by many to be Shakespeare's greatest - and most modern - masterpiece. A richly imaginative story of love, loyalty and unfathomable loss, it depicts a family and a nation torn apart and turned against itself by disastrous leadership. After the aging king's plan to divide his kingdom equally among his daughters goes horribly awry, he's cast out into the most famous storm in all of drama. By turns shocking and profound, Lear paints an unforgettable picture of human endurance pushed to the absolute limit by nature, violence and its own vanity.

The creative team for King Lear includes first-time Festival designers Wilson Chin (Scenic Design), Mika Eubanks (Costume Design) and David R. Molina (Music and Sound Design). John Wylie (Lighting Design) returns for his fourteenth season.

Performances in Shakespeare Glen are free and open to the public but for the first time will be limited in size to ensure the safety of staff, artists and audience. Shakespeare Glen and Box Office open at 6:30 p.m. Click here to plan your visit and reserve a pod. Visit www.stlshakes.org for up-to-date information on reserving pods and more.

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's 2021 season is funded in part by the Missouri Foundation for Health, Bayer Fund, Regional Arts Commission, Arts Midwest, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council and The Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation.

Photo credit: Lia Chang and STL From Above

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Opening night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR in Forest Park, June 4, 2021. Photo by STL From Above

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Opening night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR in Forest Park

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely at the opening night performance of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's production of KING LEAR in Forest Park on June 4, 2021.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Democratic Rep. Cori Bush and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones at the opening night performance of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's production of KING LEAR in Forest Park on June 4, 2021.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and Tom Ridgely at the opening night performance of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's production of KING LEAR in Forest Park on June 4, 2021

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields holds St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones' Proclamation naming June 4, 2021 as King Lear/Andre De Shields Day in the City of St. Louis.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones' Proclamation naming June 4, 2021 as King Lear/Andre De Shields Day in the City of St. Louis

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Rayme Cornell, Andre De Shields and The Company of KING LEAR.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Tyler White, Andre De Shields, Christina Yancy, Kentrell Jamison, and J. Samuel Davis

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Tyler White, Andre De Shields, Christina Yancy, Atum Jones, Kentrell Jamison, Leland Fowler and J. Samuel Davis

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Rayme Cornell, Jason J. Little, Andre De Shields, Allen Gilmore and J. Samuel Davis

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Michael Tran and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Brian Anthony Wilson and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields, Allen Gilmore and Company

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
J. Samuel Davis and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Allen Gilmore and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields and Daniel Jose Molina

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields and Daniel Jose Molina

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Brian Anthony Williams and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR curtain call- MIchael Tran, Brian Anthony Wilson, Leland Fowler, Daniel Jose Molina, Nicole King, Andre De Shields, J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore, Jason J. Little, Rayme Cornell, Jacqueline Thompson, Carl Overly, Jr.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR curtain call with Andre De Shields, J. Samuel Davis, Allen Gilmore, Jason J. Little, Rayme Cornell

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields (seated in cream top) and the Company of KING LEAR. 

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields (seated in cream top) and the Company of KING LEAR. 

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields, Director Carl Cofield and Allen Gilmore

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Seated: Emilee Buchheit, David R. Molina, Andre De Shields, Carl Cofield, Allen Gilmore, Sam Hayes. Standing: Mika Eubanks, Wilson Chin

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Carl Cofield, Andre De Shields, Lia Chang, Allen Gilmore. Photo by David R. Molina

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR Director Carl Cofield, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Producing Artistic Direct Tom Ridgely and his wife, Jennifer Thompson.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR Director Carl Cofield, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Producing Artistic Director Tom Ridgely, and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Tom Ridgely and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Brian Anthony Wilson, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival General Manager Susan Rowe Jennings, and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
King Lear and His Daughters - Nicole King, Rayme Cornell, Andre De Shields and Jaqueline Thompson

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
Nicole King and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR Director Carl Cofield and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More
KING LEAR Director Carl Cofield and Andre De Shields

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Allen Gilmore and André De Shields. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Christina Yancy, Brian McKinley, Kentrell Jamison, Carl Cofield, André De Shields, Allen Gilmore, Tyler White, Theorri London and Atum Jones. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Kentrell Jamison, Tyler White, Theorri London, Director Carl Cofield, Christina Yancy, Brian McKinley.Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Allen Gilmore, André De Shields and Brian McKinley. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  André De Shields and Lia ChangPhotos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Atum Jones, Daniel Jose Molina, Michael Tran, Brian Anthony Wilson, Allen Gilmore, Brad Sievers. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Atum Jones, Michael Tran and André De Shields. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Brian Anthony Wilson, André De Shields and Allen Gilmore. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Britteny Henry, Brian Anthony Wilson, Allen Gilmore. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Carl Overly, Jr. and André De Shields. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Daniel José Molina, André De Shields and Leland Fowler. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Daniel José Molina and André De Shields. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Leland Fowler, Daniel José Molina, Michael Tran, Nicole King. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Lou Ritter, Peter Michalski, Megan Plunkett, Andre De Shields, Rebecca Jaffe, Emily Smith and Abbie Szewczyk. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  Shavante Brogley, Lou Ritter. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Marketing and Communications Manager Allie Magee, André De Shields and Associate Producer Colin O'Brien.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR illustrated guide.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR poster. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  KING LEAR money. Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR With André De Shields & More  St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's KING LEAR in Forest Park.

 


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