Saturday, June 19, 2010

All's Well In Spring Green

The Challenge of APT's Second Show of the Season

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Matt Schwader and Jim DeVita, All's Well That Ends Well, 2010. Photo by Zane Williams.

The American Players’ Theatre's second Shakespeare show to open this summer is one of ShakespeareÂ’s problem plays. Not only is it a rather unseemly mix of comedy and tragedy, itÂ’s also get kind of a strange ending that feels a bit less than resolved even as the mechanics of the plot seemed to be making a valiant effort to wrap everything up in the end. The only way this play can feel well-written is if a theatre company can trick its fairy tale logic and oddly pragmatic realism into working together and somehow making it all have a very logical feel in the end . . .

The Boulevard Theatre recently did a fairly good job of this in a modest production of the play this past season. Shannon Nettesheim had remarkable grace in the role of a young low-born woman who boldly attempts to use her knowledge of medicine to save the life of one who can allow her a chance to marry the nobleman sheÂ’s been longing after all these years. David Flores was typically impressive as a follower of the man the Nettesheim’s character was longing for . . . it was a production plagued by a couple of late-term dropouts, but the rough-around-the-edges production gained a remarkable amount of humanity through the sheer intimacy that a stage as small as the Boulevard is capable of.

This summer, the American Players Theatre production of the play has a chance to do with space, experience and production budget what Boulevard did with proximity and passion this past spring. On a minimalist red and lace stage designed by Takeshi Kata, the APT will be focusing itself on the acting in a similar fashion to the one the Boulevard used . . . the big difference here is the Robert Morgan costuming, which looks pretty extensive. James DeVita plays Parolles here, but the costume seen in production pics makes it clear that the costume is wearing him . . .

The usual APT crowd appears in the cast here . . . with a notable addition. Recent University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre grad Allyson Carey will be playing the role of Helena, the leading lady. SheÂ’s performed extensively in Minnesota with an impressive list of productions in her resume. High-powered outdoor theatre in Southern Wisconsin shouldnÂ’t be that much of a challenge for her, but this is kind of a tricky script to work with. ItÂ’ll be interesting to see a new face taking such a prominent role at the APT this summer.

The American Players TheatreÂ’s production of All’s Well That Ends Well runs through October 1st in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

 

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