Monday, June 29, 2009

One Shaw? Check. Two Shakespeares? Check.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Having just returned to Milwaukee, the early summer trip to American Players Theatre is fully behind me. Full reviews of each of the three outdoor shows will appear in print over the course of the next couple of weeks. On the whole, it was one of the better trips I’d made out there. A good part of my enjoyment may have come from peripheral stuff. True: this year’s Lake Louie beer isn’t quite as good as it has been in the past, but the rest of the trip was thoroughly enjoyable. The extra time required to be in the Spring Green area as a result of the APT’s absense of matinees allowed my wife and I the opportunity to stay in a cottage for four days and three nights. My wife and I relaxed during the day in  a beautiful place just outside of Spring Green. It costs a little more to stay at the DaleWood Retreat than it would in, say, the Spring Green Motel, but the beautiful vista, comfortabe accomodations overly friendly/excitable dog and private fire pit were all pleasant additions to a trip otherwise dedicated to a Shaw and a couple of Shakespeare shows.

On the whole, the order of shows over the course of the weekend was ideal, aided as it was by dramatically appropriate weather. The light comedy of the APT’s production of Shaw’s The Philanderer was an excellent beginning to a weekend. With a cast featuring many of the APT’s core company in prominent roles, the production delivered the kind of cleverly-staged comedy that I’d expected. The second evening, we saw The Winter’s Tale  . .  a substantially less inspired production than Milwaukee Shakespeare had managed a couple of seasons ago, but a technically accomplished one nonetheless, with costuming billowing in the wind of an outdoor theatre that rather precariously rested between moving storm systems. Just as the King of Sicilia’s infant son was being carried away amidst the speakers carrying sound effects of thunder, the sun was setting and strong, billowing gusts of wind moved around the trees, as if on cue. The weather was perfect for the final evening, which featured an overwhelmingly impressive production of A Comedy of Errors. The show was phenomenal . . . having one of the best “fun” factors of any show I’ve ever seen at the APT . . .

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