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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shakespeare and Shaw

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As the curtain falls on the standard theater season, Spring Green's American Players Theatre kicks off the summer season with a preview performance of The Comedy of Errors on Saturday, June 6.

One of Shakespeare's lighter comedies, The Comedy of Errors could all too easily be done with a light shrug and the right comedic posture, but director Bill Brown isn't allowing that to happen. Brown opened the initial read-through of the show at the beginning of last month with a request that no one involved "play it safe." Of course, those instructions could mean different things to different people and could well have resulted in chaos. Fortunately, Brown's approach worked, giving the initial read-through a life of its own and undoubtedly adding texture to the show. Brown insisted that each actor, even those without major roles, develop real emotional dynamics. As a result, the play reached an advanced stage in the rehearsal process by the middle of last month. By the time the show opens, audiences can expect a well-orchestrated, finely detailed production of one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies.

The Comedy of Errors officially opens June 13 and runs through Oct. 4.

Also in June, the APT opens a show with more weight to it. On June 12 the theater hosts a preview of George Bernard Shaw's The Philanderer. This comedy, one of the playwright's early explorations into relationships between men and women, casts a critical eye on the medical profession. James DeVita stars as Leonard Charteris, a man who has wooed a pair of women seemingly from opposite ends of the social spectrum: Julia Craven and Grace Tranfield. The petite Catherine Lynn Davis plays Julia, a sensitive, delicate woman. The ever-talented Colleen Madden stars as the liberated Grace, an independent widow who smokes in public. The cast also includes impressive APT talents Brian Mani, Paul Bentzen and James Ridge.

The Philanderer officially opens June 20 and runs through Sept. 19.