Casting highlights include a Puck performing in American Sign Language
Whenever the Colorado Shakespeare Festival announces its annual summer season, it’s not so much “What are they going to do?” as, “How are they going to do it?” Followed by the question: “Who is going to do it?” We now know the answers to all three.
First, the what: For its 63rd season, the nation’s second-oldest Shakespeare festival will be staging A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus and Pericles by The Bard, as well as Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.
Next, the how: Carolyn Howarth’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be the 10th in Colorado Shakes’ history. When last presented in 2013, the story was told with a distinctly Jazz Age flair. Next summer, Howarth will incorporate elements of glam-punk rock. “For Midsummer, it’s really important that we take a new, fresh, wild, crazy, funky approach — and make it a party as well,” Producing Artistic Director Tim Orr said. “Carolyn understands that, and she understands that the value and beauty of the story is the lovers.”
And today we learned Howarth has cast an actor who will perform the role of Puck in American Sign Language. That’s Washington D.C.-based actor Andrew Morrill, who actively advocates for accurate representations of the deaf people on screen and on stage as part of the #DeafTalent movement.
“I believe our stages should represent our community and country. They should reflect us,” Orr said. “It’s something we continually strive for at CSF.”
Indoors, Managing Director Wendy Franz will set a stylized All’s Well That Ends Well in 1950s France; in 2007, the fest set the tale of a woman who woos the arrogant husband who abandoned her in 1660 London. Meanwhile, Stories on Stage Artistic Director Anthony Powell will direct Shakespeare’s rarely performed Roman war play Coriolanus. And while Powell will adhere to the time and place of the story as written, he said, “I want to make it as sexy and rough-and-tumble as it can be, and a pure Roman aesthetic doesn’t do that.”
The other outdoor offering is in itself a theatrical twist: Mary Zimmerman’s urgent adaptation of Homer’s ancient Greek poem The Odyssey. Zimmerman, best known for her transcending Broadway production of Metamorphoses, first adapted The Odyssey for the stage 20 years ago, but was coaxed into revisiting the story of Odysseus’ long way home in 2017 by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That inventive production was called “a profound and dazzling masterpiece” by one Oregon critic.
“I am enthralled by this adaption by Mary Zimmerman,” said Orr, who will direct. “It is so theatrical, so moving and funny.”
And now we know the who. Colorado Shakes has today released its full casting. Indoors, the Coriolanus cast will be led by Gareth Saxe, currently charming DCPA Theatre Company audiences as Pastor Paul in the world-premiere play You Lost Me. He will be joined by longtime DCPA Theatre Company favorite Jeanne Paulsen (The Most Deserving), who was nominated for a 1993 Tony Award for her work in Broadway’s The Kentucky Cycle. Paulsen will be joining Colorado Shakes for the first time, playing both Volumnia in Coriolanus and the Countess in All’s Well That Ends Well. Her husband is Larry Paulsen, who just played Feste in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night.
Outdoors, Rodney Lizcano, most recently seen in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night, will play Oberon, the fairy king, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He will be joined by Jessica Robblee, currently starring in Miners Alley Playhouse’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, as Titania. Also on the outdoor stage, Scott Coopwood returns as Odysseus in The Odyssey. He previously starred in the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac. Robblee will play Athena.
Sam Sandoe, whose father, James Sandoe, played a major part in the founding of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1958, will achieve a significant personal milestone this summer when he completes the entire Shakespeare canon by performing in both Coriolanus and a one-night-only “original practices” presentation of Pericles.
Other familiar names to audiences at the Denver Center and throughout the Colorado theatre community will include Sam Gregory, Anne Penner, Leslie O’Carroll, Rakeem Lawrence, Sean Scrutchins, Matthew Schneck, Sean Michael Cummings, Mark Collins, Seth Palmer Harris, Mark Regan, Mackenzie Beyer, Lois Shih and Jihad Milhem. Chloe McLeod, who has been playing Helena for several years in DCPA Education’s abridged “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” performances at Colorado schools, parks and libraries, will now get to play the full role in Boulder.
Kevin Rich, currently starring as Hercule Poirot in the Arvada Center’s Murder on the Orient Express, and an Associate Professor in the CU Boulder Theatre Department, will direct Colorado Shakes’ annual one-night-only “Original Practices” production this year – Pericles, on August 2. These minimally rehearsed presentations demonstrate how plays might have been performed in Shakespeare’s time, with the actors receiving only scrolls that include their own lines and cues in advance.
The 2020 Colorado Shakespeare Festival was cast by Sylvia Gregory, CSA.
Meet Jeanne Paulsen: Our 2013 video introduction
Colorado Shakespeare Festival 2020 season at a glance:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- June 5-Aug. 9
- Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
- Shakespeare’s most beguiling comedy centers on four young lovers who find themselves lost in a world where the moon is full, love is in the air – and just around the bend, a man has been transformed into an ass.
- Directed by Carolyn Howarth
- Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 2013 (10th overall)
- Jessica Robblee: Theseus (Duke of Athens) and Titania (Queen of the Fairies)
- Rodney Lizcano: Oberon (King of the Fairies) and Hippolytus (a variation on Hippolyta, the Amazon queen)
- Andrew Morrill: Robin “Puck” Goodfellow (a mischievous sprite with magical powers)
- Scott Coopwood: Egeus (father of Hermia) and Oberon’s Fairy
- Kaitlyn Boyer: Hermia (daughter of Egeus)
- Christian Ray: Lysander (a young man of Athens, of good family and fortune)
- Jacob Dresch: Demetrius (suitor to Hermia)
- Chloe McLeod: Helena (in love with Demetrius)
- Sean Scrutchins: Peter Quince (a carpnter) and Fairy
- Leslie O’Carroll: Nick Bottom (a weaver)
- Lauren Dennis: Robin Starveling (a tailor) and Moonshine
- Sean Michael Cummings: Francis Flute (a bellows-mender) and Thisbe
- Rakeem Lawrence: Tom Snout (a tinker) and Wall
- Seth Palmer Harris: Snug (a joiner) and Lion
- Greta Hooston: Peaseblossom (fairy servant to Titania)
- Stephanie Saltis: Cobweb (fairy servant to Titania)
- Christian Tripp: Moth (fairy servant to Titania)
- Daniel Crumrine: Mustardseed (fairy servant to Titania)
All’s Well That Ends Well
- June 19-Aug. 8
- University Theatre (indoors)
- This smart coming-of-age romp introduces Helena and Bertram — one, a brilliant but poor physician’s daughter; the other a wealthy, roguish soldier — as they grow up and grow into themselves to find love.
- Says Director Wendy Franz: “I think it’s really about both of them finding their way — and finding their way to each other as they find themselves. “It’s about that journey from grief and the ignorance of youth to maturity and the joy that it brings.”
- Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 2007 (fifth overall)
- Sam Gregory: King of France
- Sam Sandoe: Duke of Florence
- Andy Walker: Bertram, Count of Roussillon
- Jeanne Paulsen: Countess of Roussillon, Mother of Bertram
- Kevin Rich: Lavatch, a clown in her household
- Madison Hart: Helena, a gentlewoman protected by the Countess
- Gareth Saxe: Lafew, an old Lord
- Matthew Schneck: Parolles
- Andrea Morales: An old widow of Florence
- Ilana DeAngelo: Diana, daughter of the widow
- Mackenzie Beyer: Mariana, neighbor and friend of the widow
- Ensemble: Benjamin Reigel, Peter Bussian, Michael Allyn, Katie Turner, Leandra Fischman, Robert Wester
Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey
- By Homer, adapted by Mary Zimmerman from the translation by Robert Fitzgerald
- July 3-August 8
- Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
- The Trojan War is over, but Odysseus has not returned. Back home, his wife Penelope, plagued by suitors, promises to remarry as soon as she has finished her husband’s shroud — which she unravels every night. Meanwhile, Odysseus is stranded on islands, caught in storms, trapped by a Cyclops and a sorceress, and impeded by other monsters and gods. Will he ever make it home to his wife and fatherless son?
- Says Director Tim Orr: “This adaptation shows us this ancient adventure that is still exciting, and how live theatre can be so powerful bringing it to life.”
- Scott Coopwood: Odysseus (King of Ithaca)
- Anne Penner: Penelope (wife of Odysseus)
- Christian Ray: Telemachus (son of Odysseus and Penelope)
- Jessica Robblee: Athena (daughter of Zeus)
- Kaitlyn Boyer: Muse (one who inspires great art) and Calypso (goddess-nymph who holds Odysseus captive for seven years)
- Leslie O’Carroll: Eurycleia (nurse to Odysseus) and Anticleia (Odysseus’s mother)
- Rodney Lizcano: Zeus (King of the gods), Cyclops (the one-eyed cannibal giant), Teiresias (blind underworld prophet who shows Odysseus how to get back to Ithaca) and Demodocus (poet who visits the Court of Alcinous)
- Mark Ragan: Aeolus (Master of the winds) and Laertes (Odysseus’ father)
- Sean Scrutchins: Antinous (suitor to Penelope) and Poseidon (God of the sea and father of Polyphemus)
- Laurie Keith: Circe (goddess-enchantres) and Denizen of Heaven
- Daniel Crumrine: Elpenor (youngest man to survive the tribe of man-eating giants)
- Chloe McLeod: Helen (obedient housewife of King Menelaus)
- Greta Hooston: Arete (Queen of the Phaecians, Odysseus’ last destination of his 10-year journey)
- Jacob Dresch: Alcinous (King of the Phaecians) and Halitherses (Soothsayer)
- Stephanie Saltis: Nausicaa (Daughter of Alcinous and Queen Arete)
- Christian Tripp: Proteus (a sea god)
- Seth Palmer Harris: Neoman (man who gives Telemachus his ship) and Eumaeus (loyal swine herdsman)
- Andrew Morrill: Mentor (old friend to Odysseus) and Menelaus (King of Sparta and husband of Helen who helped lead Greeks in Trojan War)
- Rakeem Lawrence: Hermes (Herald of the Gods and Escort of the Dead), and Cyclops (the one-eyed cannibal giant) and Young Menelaus
- Sean Michael Cummings: Cyclops (the one-eyed cannibal giant)
- July 17-Aug. 9, University Theatre (indoors)
- Follow the tumultuous career of one of ancient Rome’s super soldiers in Shakespeare’s white-hot war play. Coriolanus raises questions about the power of common people, the efficacy of leaders who always speak their mind and the strength of a democracy run by polarizing political schemes.
- Says Director Anthony Powell: “It’s a wild script. It is a portrait of a man so deeply broken and conflicted that he can no longer navigate his way through normal society. The play is a political satire that morphs into genuine tragedy.”
- Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 1995 (third overall)
- Gareth Saxe: Caius Martius Coriolanus
- Jeanne Paulsen: Volumnia (Coriolanus’ mother)
- Sam Gregory: Menenius Agrippa (senator of Rome)
- Coleman Zeigan: Cominius (commander-in-chief of the army)
- Benjamin Reigel: Tullus Aufidius (general of the Volscian army)
- Kevin Rich: Sicinius Veletus (a leading plebeian advocating secession)
- Matthew Schneck: Junius Brutus (plotter of Coriolanus’s downfall)
- Madison Hart: Virgilia (Coriolanus’ wife)
- Lois Shih: Valeria (chaste lady of Rome and friend to Coriolanus’ family)
- Andy Walker: Titus Lartius (Roman general)
- Ensemble: Michael Allyn, Ilana DeAngelo, Katie Turner, Sam Sandoe, Leandra Fischman, Mark Collins
Pericles (an ‘Original Practices’ presentation)
- August 2, Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
- Directed by Kevin Rich
- Featuring a shipwrecked prince on the run after discovering a king’s terrible secret, this annual one-night-only event showcases a play as it might have been originally performed in the Bard’s time.
- Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 1993 (third overall)
Cast list (Roles to be determined):
- Jessica Robblee
- Greta Hooston
- Stephanie Saltis
- Scott Coopwood
- Sean Scrutchins
- Jihad Milhem
- Christian Ray
- Matthew Schneck
- Andy Walker
- Kevin Rich
- Benjamin Reigel
- Ilana DeAngelo
- Katie Turner
- Sam Sandoe
The 2020 season begins Friday, June 5, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 9. Tickets are available at 303-492-8008, coloradoshakes.org or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the CU Presents Box Office in Boulder.