The 13th season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre kicks off June 7 at the University of Central Arkansas with a performance of “The Comedy of Errors.”
The season opens at 7:30 p.m. on June 7 with “The Comedy of Errors” on the lawn of UCA’s McAlister Hall. “Guys and Dolls” will open in UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall the following week on June 15, and “Macbeth” will open on June 21. AST’s family-friendly adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” will open June 26 in Reynolds Performance Hall and will also tour across the state in June and July.
“The Comedy of Errors” will be directed by Jack Young, artistic director of Houston Shakespeare Festival, who was with AST in its 10th anniversary season as fight choreographer. The comedy includes twins separated at birth, mistaken identities, and unrequited love.
Newcomer and Arkansas native Jenna Elser, artistic director of the Glow Lyric Theatre, will direct AST’s musical “Guys and Dolls.” This multiple-Tony Award-winning musical which premiered in 1951, will be given fresh life in this intimate new production.
Another Arkansas native, Robert Frost, will return as music director, and AST artistic collective member and audience favorite Chad Bradford will take the stage in the role of Sky Masterson. First Security Bank is the show sponsor for “Guys and Dolls.”
Rebekah Scallet will return to direct Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” This classic tragic tale of hubris will be presented in an intimate on-stage setting, with Emily Wold of Little Rock, who played Helena in AST’s 2016 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as Lady Macbeth. Benjamin Reed, who made his professional debut with AST as part of its inaugural season in 2007, will return to play the role of Macbeth.
Tommy Novak, who starred in AST’s 2017 production of “The Music Man,” will make his directorial debut with AST for the touring Family Shakespeare production of “Romeo and Juliet.” With a cast of just eight people telling a reduced version of this classic tale, “Romeo and Juliet” will be performed on stage at Reynolds, along with stops at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, Hot Springs Farmer’s Market, and the Hub in North Little Rock.
And at 2 p.m. on July 3 in Reynolds Performance Hall, there will be a special sensory-friendly performance of “Romeo and Juliet” for audience members with sensory-processing deficits, including those on the autism disorder spectrum and their families.
AST’s 13th season will close on July 7.
Tickets to the Reynolds Performance Hall productions of “Macbeth” and “Guys and Dolls” are $34 per person ($28 for seniors, active military and students); tickets for “Romeo and Juliet” are $15 for adults and $12.50 for students. Two-play packages for “Macbeth” and “Guys and Dolls” are available for $50.
Package buyers may also purchase tickets to “Romeo and Juliet” for just $10 more. Individual venues will handle ticketing for all touring productions of “Romeo and Juliet.” All outdoor performances of “The Comedy of Errors” are pay-what-you-can with a $15 per person suggested donation.
For more information about tickets or subscriptions, call the box office at (866) 810-0012 or visit arkshakes.com.
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company and makes its home on the UCA campus. Each summer, AST offers full productions of a range of Shakespeare’s works, as well as other plays and musicals that help fulfill AST’s mission to entertain, engage and enrich the community.
TALKBACKS AND AUDIENCE INTERACTION
The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will also offer educational prep sessions, workshops, lectures and talk backs to enhance theatregoers’ understanding of the plays produced.
Following the model of other acclaimed and established Shakespeare festivals in the country, AST will utilize the talents of academic leaders, professional actors and other members of the AST creative team to enrich the exploration of and expand the understanding of the performances’ themes and ideas.
Here is a lineup of this summer’s offerings, all held at locations on the UCA campus:
Tuesday, June 11, 5-6 p.m., Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center
Paige Martin Reynolds, AST actor, artistic collective member, and director of dramaturgy: “Performing Shakespeare’s Women” What happened to Shakespeare’s women, and why does it matter to us today? Join Reynolds for a discussion of what is at stake for Shakespeare’s female characters (and the actors who play them), based on her recent book, “Performing Shakespeare’s Women: Playing Dead” (Bloomsbury Arden, 2019).
Tuesday, June 18, 5-6 p.m., McAlister Hall Mirror Room
Mary Ruth Marotte, AST executive director and UCA professor of English: “The Comedy of Errors for Dummies” Two sets of twins, a shipwreck, unrequited love and much more! Marotte will discuss “The Comedy of Errors” plot and themes in a user-friendly way to enhance your viewing pleasure of AST’s outdoor summer production.
Friday, June 21, 5-6 p.m., McAlister Hall Mirror Room
Robert Frost, AST music director: “Loesser is Morer: The Music of Frank Loesser” Frank Loesser, a composer most well-known for “Guys and Dolls” and “How To Succeed,” penned a large body of work that spanned many styles and genres. Music Director Frost takes a look at his most popular material, while also delving into his lesser-known works, pieces which signal a significant departure from his commercial hits.
Wednesday, June 26, 5-6 p.m., McAlister Hall Mirror Room
Chad Bradford, AST actor/director and artistic collective member: “It’s Good to Be King: Staging and Status in Shakespeare” How does Shakespeare seek to convey status onstage? Join AST’s Bradford in an interactive talk about stage directions and status in the Elizabethan era.
Friday, June 28, 5-6 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall
Rebekah Scallet, AST producing artistic director: “Behind the Scenes of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’” Prepare yourself to journey into the Middle Ages with a helpful introductory session by AST’s own Scallet, who’ll be directing “Macbeth” this season.
Wednesday, July 3, 5-6 p.m., McAlister Hall Mirror Room
Nick Narcisi, AST company actor: “The Scottish Curse” What has caused theater companies to close, along with untimely accidental deaths and burns to Charlton Heston? Could it be simply saying the word “Macbeth” while in a theater? Why is this famous play so cursed? And why do so many actors fear the title? Narcisi explores both the play and the history books for answers.
Talk backs with the actors will be held:
June 25, following “Guys & Dolls”;
June 26, following “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Comedy of Errors”;
June 28 and 29, following “Romeo and Juliet”;
July 2, following “Guys & Dolls”;
July 4, following “Romeo and Juliet”; and
July 5, following “Macbeth”