World Class Season at World Class Theater – APT

Summer is a a traditional down time for theater in Milwaukee but it also heralds the season for the gratest  outdoor classical theater company in America – American Players Theatre in Spring Green, just west of Madison.

Here’s their press release describing the season, which will also mark the debut of the new Up The Hill theater space which is ready for use. It promises to be a dramatic addition to the space.

season will run June 10 to October 22, 2017. In APT’s flagship outdoor amphitheater, TWilliam Shakespeare will bookend the Hill season with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Also playing on the Hill: A Flea in Her Ear by Georges Feydeau, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand – a new adaptation by APT’s James DeVita; and Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov.

The 200-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre will host: The Maids by Jean Genet, An Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza and A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller. August Strindberg’s The Creditors will comprise the 2017 shoulder season in the Touchstone in November.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita said, “We’ve put together a season that is quintessential APT. We’ll open our renovated Hill Theatre with Midsummer, the same play that began it all when APT opened in 1980. Together, the plays on the Hill will deliver on what I believe our audience has come to expect: a sweeping, romantic adventure with Cyrano, a hilarious comedy with A Flea in Her Ear, two Shakespeares that are tailor-made for our theater in the woods, and the beautiful, achingly human Chekhov play Three Sisters as our accent piece. For the Touchstone, we have chosen four plays that will showcase our company of actors and be very well-served by the intimacy of that space. I’m especially eager to continue our exploration of American classics with A View from the Bridge.”

ON THE HILL

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare

Directed by John Langs

APT’s first season on its newly rebuilt stage will be christened by the same play that kicked off its first season in 1980. Wedding plans between Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons are underway when the couple is interrupted by angry parents trying to stop their headstrong daughter, Hermia, from marrying Lysander instead of their choice, Demetrius. A plan that backfires as the couple flees into the mystical Forest of Arden followed by Demetrius and Helena, (who is, in turn, love with Demetrius). There, Oberon and Titania – king and queen of the fairies – are having a quarrel of their own. And when Oberon enlists his servant Puck to cast a spell on his queen, everyone gets caught up in the magic of this iconic Shakespearean fairy tale. Featured casting to come.

A Flea in Her Ear

By Georges Feydeau 

Adapted by David Frank

Translated by Abbot Chrisman

Directed by David Frank

The lovely Raymonde Chandebise wonders why her husband has stopped visiting her bedroom, and assumes he must be having an affair. So she asks her friend Lucienne to write him a love letter meant to lure him to a rendezvous where she can catch him in the act of being unfaithful. But when Raymonde’s (very faithful) husband Victor Emmanuel receives the letter, he assumes it’s for his bachelor friend Tournel and gives it to him instead, setting in motion a hilarious series of events that bounces from the Chandebise home to a hotel of ill repute, where anything (and apparently everyone) goes. Featuring David Daniel as Victor Emmanuel and Marcus Truschinski as Tournel. More casting to come.

Cyrano de Bergerac

By Edmond Rostand

Adapted by James DeVita from the texts translated by: Gertrude Hall; Gladys Thomas and Mary Guillemard; Charles Renauld; and Henderson Dangerfield Norman.

Directed by James DeVita

Cyrano de Bergerac is a fearless soldier. A loyal braggadocio. And a man furiously self-conscious about his very protuberant nose. He’s also a man in love with a woman (Roxane) who’s in love with someone else (Christian), and promised in marriage to yet another (De Guiche). When Christian is assigned to Cyrano’s platoon, Roxane begs him to protect her love, which Cyrano reluctantly agrees to do. And when Christian in turn begs Cyrano to help him woo Roxane, a plot unfurls that begs the question: does love truly lie in the eyes or in the soul? A funny, action-packed romance with a heart full of poetry. Featuring James Ridge as Cyrano. More casting to come.

By Anton Chekhov

Translated by Susan Coyne

Directed by William Brown

Anton Chekhov (The Seagull, staged by APT in 2014) returns with another soul-searing masterpiece about hope, regret and the complexities of love. Three sisters – Olga, an unwed schoolteacher; Masha, a pianist in an unhappy  marriage and Irina, an idealist with plans for a vibrant future – live together with their brother Andrei. In the past, the family lived well-to-do in Moscow, but moved to a provincial town with their father, who had been a military general before his death a year prior. The girls dream of moving back to the city, and more aristocratic lives. Surrounded by soldiers from a nearby artillery post with whom the family has grown close, they watch their lives play out in ways they’d never imagined. A hearty, cathartic story about the moments we allow to pass, and how they shape the future. Featuring Kelsey Brennan as Masha. More casting to come.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Eric Tucker

The most epic of Shakespeare’s late romances, Pericles, Prince of Tyre sails from island to island in a search for love and a place to call home. The first stop is Antioch, where Pericles has traveled to attempt to win the hand of Antiochus’ daughter. But once there, the young prince discovers a secret that could cost him his life. As Pericles flees before he can be murdered, he’s shipwrecked in a storm and recovered by fishermen in Pentopolis, where he catches the eye of Princess Thaisa. Together they create a story that spans oceans, decades and the expanse of the human heart. Featured casting to come.

IN THE TOUCHSTONE THEATRE

The Maids

By Jean Genet

Translated by Bernard Frechtman

Directed by Gigi Buffington

Claire and Solange are sisters and servants. Trapped in a life they didn’t ask for and can’t leave, they pass the time by impersonating their Madame, with Claire dressing up in her fine clothes and makeup and relishing her role as the cruel, bullying mistress; using her character to spar with Solange. As the sisters dig deeper into their make-believe, their games become more sinister as they struggle against and within their identities and class roles. An edgy, absurdist fantasy about sex and pain; power and playacting. Featuring Melisa Pereyra as Claire. More casting to come.

The Unexpected Man

By Yasmina Reza

Translated by Christopher Hampton

Directed by Laura Gordon

Yasmina Reza, author of the international hit Art, brings her unique style of existential comedy to the Touchstone Theatre. Two strangers on a train – an author and a devoted fan – have a secret power struggle as they silently size each other up while reflecting on the decisions and events that led them to their shared train car. A story told through a series of fascinating and funny internal monologues, as two brilliant, lonely people search for a moment of connection. Featuring Sarah Day and Brian Mani.

A View from the Bridge

By Arthur Miller

Directed by Tim Ocel

In Eddie and Beatrice’s humble and hardworking Brooklyn neighborhood, family ties are a fierce point of pride. Case in point, Bea’s orphaned niece, Catherine has lived with them since she was a child and is now ready to make her way in the world, though Eddie seems reluctant to let her grow up. When the couple agrees to take in two of Bea’s cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, who have traveled from Italy to find work illegally, Catherine and Rodolpho start spending more time together, fanning Eddie’s hot temper and driving the family to an emotional boiling point. A Greek Tragedy set in in 1950s Brooklyn. Featuring Jim DeVita. More casting to come.

Opening in November

Creditors

By August Strindberg

Translated by David Greig

Directed by Maria Aitken

Adolph has made a new friend; a mentor of sorts who seeks to guide him both on his artistic ventures and in matters of his marriage to the charming, vivacious Tekla, who is older than Adolph. It quickly becomes apparent that this new friend – Gustav – may have some ulterior motives, as Adolph and Tekla’s relationship becomes more and more fraught due to Gustav’s influence and Adolph’s own insecurities. A dark and chilling psychological experiment played out on the Touchstone stage. Featuring Tracy Michelle Arnold and Jim DeVita. More casting to come.

The schedule for the season can be found at http://www.americanplayers. org.

About davebegel@gmail.com

Theater Critic in Milwaukee.
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