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A bit of the Bard

(ran PW, PS editions of PASCO TIMES)

This season's offering at the Shakespeare in the Hills festival serves up a double dish: a comedy and selected scenes from the great tragedies.

The only play performed in its entirety, The Merry Wives of Windsor is played for laughs, according to Pat Lewkowicz, director of the annual Shakespeare festival starting today at the art league.

"The Merry Wives is a farce comedy. It doesn't have any significance, it's just a funny piece," Lewkowicz said.

In The Merry Wives, a knight, Sir John Falstaff (John Chesnovitz), is looking for money and love. He plans to seduce Mistress Alice Ford (Erica Hulbert) and Mistress Margaret Page (Christy Neuman) to get at their husbands' money.

Falstaff's clumsy plans are quickly discovered and turned against him by the two women, who delight in humiliating him. He winds up in a basket of smelly laundry, is tricked into dressing as a woman and beaten, and finally is set upon by the village children dressed as fairies.

A subplot involving Anne Page (Alana Muir), who has to negotiate a minefield of unwanted suitors to find her true love Fenton (Josh Rigdon), helps flesh out the story.

Other characters include George Page (Jerry Rust), Nell Page (Danielle Rehbert), Frank Ford (Luke Witkowski), Joan Ford (Megan Warner) and Bertha Ford (Katy Colia), all members of the two principal families.

Kalyn Scofield, Anthony Kraljic, Micheil McElvey, Chris Rehberg, Daniel Lugo, Melissa Muzzi, Walter Read and Andrew Kennedy round out the cast.

SELECTIONS FROM THE TRAGEDIES:

The second offering of Shakespeare in the Hills is Best of the Bard, a selection of scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and Richard III.

The balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, in which Romeo steals into the garden to profess his love for Juliet standing in her balcony above, is one of Shakespeare's most memorable. Other scenes include Juliet's plan to set a wedding date using a nurse to ferry messages and a street fight in Verona durin which Romeo kills Tybalt.

Characters are Juliet (Megan Warmer), Romeo (Josh Rigdon), Nurse (Daniel Lugo), Benvolio (Jerry Rust), Mercutio (Luke Witkowski) and Tybalt (Micheil McElvey).

From Macbeth, the scene in which Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to murder King Duncan and another scene in which Lady Macbeth sleepwalks and reveals her role in murder are performed. The characters are Lady Macbeth (Kyle Stillwell), Macbeth (Jerry Rust), Gentlewoman (Chassy Kennedy) and Doctor (Daniel Lugo).

From Hamlet is the scene in which Prince Hamlet feigns madness and spurns his girlfriend Ophelia, telling her "Get thee to a nunnery" to escape the corruption surrounding her.

Other scenes show Hamlet assailing his mother's motives after she weds his uncle (whom he suspects of murdering his father) and a dark comic dialogue between Hamlet and a gravedigger holding a skull.

The characters are Hamlet (Micheil McElvey), Ophelia (Erica Hulbert), Polonius (Jerry Rust), Gertrude (Annie DeLeo), Gravedigger (Andrew Kennedy) and Horatio (Anthony Kraljic).

After intermission, several scenes from Richard III are performed. In the opener, Richard, a duke, becomes bored with peace in England and plans to murder his way to the throne, currently occupied by his brother.

Next, he woos Lady Anne (Carrie Neuman) at a funeral. Then the power-hungry Richard dispatches assassins to kill another brother, Clarence, imprisoned in the Tower of London. They drown him in a wine barrel. Old Queen Margaret (Annie DeLeo) is portrayed as she curses her fate while waiting for her husband to die.

In the finale Richard, now king (albeit insane after murdering everybody in his way) faces his final battle and delivers his famous line "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse."

The plays are performed in three-quarters round, which allows the actors to perform using not only the stage but the center of the audience's floor space as well, creating a more intimate ambience.

_ Contact Jorge Sanchez at 860-7313 or sanchezsptimes.com.

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