Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and Measure for Measure will receive their first productions at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in the company’s summer season of 2013. The season will also include Oscar Wilde’sThe Importance of Being Earnest, the award-winning comic-thriller, The 39 Steps, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s legendary musical, Oklahoma!
“For most of our patrons, the pulse quickens a bit when the opportunity presents to attend a Shakespeare play they haven’t seen, or have seen infrequently,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. “And we are all reminded of why the classics endure.”
For the third consecutive season, PSF will produce two plays in repertory on its main stage: Measure for Measureand The Importance of Being Earnest. Earnest will be directed by long-time Festival artist Jim Helsinger, who will also play the role of Lady Bracknell.
Following his powerful interpretation of Sweeney Todd for the Festival last summer, Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze will direct Oklahoma! “Oklahoma! is the most produced of all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musicals and it was their very first collaboration,” Razze says. “The musical form was forever changed afterOklahoma! debuted, and today it remains a rousing and inspiring tribute to the American spirit.”
After garnering Tony and Olivier awards and audience raves around the country, The 39 Steps receives its professional Lehigh Valley premiere with the PSF production. “Even with our proximity to New York, many in our community have yet to experience this masterful, comic whodunit,” Mulcahy says. “With four actors playing 150 characters, this play gives actors a great opportunity to showcase range and test their transformative abilities, and audiences a chance to come along for a wild and exhilarating ride.” Matt Pfeiffer, who previously directed The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) in 2009 for PSF, returns to direct.
Henry VIII – one of Shakespeare’s final plays, loosely chronicling the opulent corrosive power struggles of the notorious king’s reign – will be rehearsed similarly to the way Shakespeare’s company would have and in the way PSF presented King John and The Two Noble Kinsmen in the past two seasons. Actors will arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find in a costume shop “raid,” and open in a matter of days. No director – the position didn’t exist in 1613 – and no designers. (Most productions at PSF rehearse for three-plus weeks, with a director and a full complement of designers.)
“With two years of experience now, we’ve found that the actors and patrons embrace this process, and the final production gives our audiences something akin to what we think Shakespeare’s audiences experienced – the thrill of the unexpected, the creative, and the unique power of adrenaline combined with discovery,” says Mulcahy.
The 2013 season will also include two productions for children: Beauty and the Beast and Shakespeare for Kids.The season opens May 31 and runs through August 4 in the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.
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The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a professional company in residence at DeSales University, is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations, and foundations. PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.
Main Stage Theatre
Oklahoma! • June 12 – June 30
Measure for Measure • July 18 – Aug. 4
The Importance of Being Earnest • July 10 – Aug. 4
The 39 Steps • June 19 – July 14
Henry VIII • July 24 – Aug. 4
Beauty and the Beast • May 31 – Aug. 3
Shakespeare for Kids • July 24 – Aug. 3