Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MI Shakespeare Festival presents R&J and COE

News from Robert Duha, Managing Director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival:  
Jackson, Mich. (April 9, 2010) – The Michigan Shakespeare Festival enters its 16th season in mid-July with an abundance of frivolity, fun and fancy that promises to keep audiences glued to their seats from the opening line to the final curtain. The 2010 season runs for four weeks beginning July 15 through August 8.

In her first year as artistic director, Janice Blixt takes a bold, fresh approach to two of Shakespeare’s most well-known and frequently performed plays, Romeo and Juliet and The Comedy of Errors. An accomplished Shakespearean actor, director and teacher of classical theatre, Blixt noted, “The best productions of Shakespeare are the ones that demand their audiences live the journey with them.” With that in mind, theatergoers can expect a memorable ride at this summer’s festival.

The 2010 season opens at 7:30 p.m. on July 15 in the Michael Baughman Theatre on the campus of Jackson Community College with a preview performance of Romeo and Juliet followed by a preview performance of The Comedy of Errors at 2 p.m. on July 17.  

Romeo and Juliet has been produced continuously for 400 years because Shakespeare’s characters speak to universal truths: love, hate, humiliation, exaltation, honor, betrayal, greed, generosity, failure and success,” said Blixt, the play’s director.

 “There’s also humor. We’re taking a softer, gentler approach to Romeo and Juliet. The scenery and costumes are post-Edwardian 1910. The play is about young people falling in love and guys hanging out, and some of the typical things they do and say. I’m really excited as we’re not altering much yet we’re presenting the show in a fresh way that will invigorate audiences and give them a new sense of appreciation for Shakespeare.”

Audiences can expect the same high-energy performance and good time when The Comedy of Errors takes the stage under the direction of Kevin Theis, a professional actor, director and playwright. “The production is zany, funny and whacky,” Blixt said. “With its brightly colored sets and cartoonish costumes, the production will be fast, funny and fun.”

Two special features give audiences opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback. At Bard Talks, professors from area universities share Shakespeare history and highlights of his plays with audience members before designated Shakespeare performances. At Talk Backs, audience members meet with the play’s directors and actors after designated performances to debrief and offer feedback.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Alfred Uhry, Driving Miss Daisy rounds out the season with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. for three consecutive weeks beginning July 25. Most of the all-star cast from last season’s award-winning professional theatre production in mid-Michigan will reprise their stellar performances at this year’s Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

The festival features professional and experienced actors from throughout the United States, with a generous number from Southeast Michigan, including Washtenaw County. Many cast members also are successful producers, directors, stage managers and choreographers. Their broad-based knowledge of theatre arts enhances every production they touch.

New this year is cash prizes for the High School Monologue Contest held in May in which students in grades 9 through 12 can win cash prizes. Each participant must read a two-minute monologue of their choosing from a Shakespeare play. Theatre and media professionals will select state finalists, who will compete at the festival on July 31 for a grand prize of $350.

Also, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival cast will be performing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” throughout June at libraries, recreation centers, and the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The actors will engage the children in audience participation activities that promise to be entertaining and memorable. The program is designed for children ages 4 through 7, but those younger and older will enjoy this classic play.
The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit professional theatre founded in 1995. Since its inception, the festival has entertained more than 40,000 people of all ages. In 2003, the festival’s quality and reputation as a regional classical theatre earned it the designation as “The Official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan from Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the State Senate.

To learn more about The Michigan Shakespeare Festival or to reserve tickets, call (517) 998-3673 or visit

Preview and opening dates and times are:

Romeo and Juliet, Thursday, July 15, 7:30 p.m. (preview)
Romeo and Juliet, Friday, July 16, 7:30 p.m. (preview)
The Comedy of Errors, Saturday, July 17, 2 p.m. (preview)
Romeo and Juliet, Saturday, July 17, 7:30 p.m. (opening)
The Comedy of Errors, Sunday, July 18, 4 p.m. (preview)

The Comedy of Errors, Thursday, July 22, 7:30 p.m. (opening)
The Comedy of Errors, Friday, July 23, 7:30 p.m.
The Comedy of Errors, Saturday, July 24, 2 p.m.
Romeo and Juliet, Saturday, July 24, 7:30 p.m.
Driving Miss Daisy, Sunday, July 25, 3 p.m.

The Comedy of Errors, Thursday, July 29, 7:30 p.m.
Romeo and Juliet, Friday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.
Romeo and Juliet, Saturday, July 31, 2 p.m.
The Comedy of Errors, Saturday, July 31, 7:30 p.m.
Driving Miss Daisy, Sunday, August 1, 3 p.m.

The Comedy of Errors, Friday, August 6, 7:30 p.m.
The Comedy of Errors, Saturday, August 7, 2 p.m.
Romeo and Juliet, Saturday, August 7, 7:30 p.m.
Driving Miss Daisy, Sunday, August 8, 3 p.m.
Romeo and Juliet, Sunday, August 8, 7:30 p.m.

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