There’s a lot of news from Shakespeare & Company this weekend. The company began its 35th summer season with previews of Norman Plotkin’s Cassandra Speaks, starring Tod Randolph as the irreverent Dorothy Thompson. The official opening date when the critics will descend on the company is Friday, June 1.
In talking with Artistic Director Tony Simotes this week, he was pleased with the prospects for a banner season, stepping back to get the broad view, even as he was hard at work directing The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife whose previews begin June 12 with a press opening of June 15.
Simotes, whose voice continues to regain its former vigor after his bout with cancer looked robust as he gave an update of the Company’s box office successes to date. He promised to announce the completion of summer casting for the summer season as well as fall and winter programming within a few days.
Those details arrived today.
There have been changes, most minor. Most significantly, Jonathan Croy has replaced Apollo Dukakis as Gloucester in King Lear. Croy had been originally tapped to be the Director of Allergist’s Wife, but switched hats, and Simotes stepped in as Director. The opening was pushed back a week to allow time for the transition. Scheduling is always challenging for actors in demand. Apollo Dukakis will miss just the one show, he is still very much planning to appear with Olympia Dukakis in The Tempest.
“We have so much in store for our 35th Season,” promises Artistic Director Tony Simotes. “It was thrilling to announce our plans back in February, but the details have really taken shape over the past couple of months. Many shows have already begun rehearsals, including one of my shows, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, and the campus is just buzzing with the arrival of our actors, summer staff and designers–upwards of 100 people. There’s an incredible enthusiasm for our 35th Season and I’m humbled and honored to be the Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company during this exciting time.”
“The season is off to a terrific start,” adds Simotes. “By creating and developing a more expansive and challenging program for the season we are already seeing robust numbers for our box office sales. We are currently sitting at approximately 143% of last year’s sales at this time, which puts us on target to exceed last year’s total figures. This good news ties directly into the success of the stability of the Company, both financially and artistically. Ticket sales for Shakespeare & Company’s 2011/12 performance season, which closed in mid-April, topped out over $1.3 million in sales with an attendance of approximately 56,000 patrons.
Paying Down the Mortgage, Creating Tina Packer Fund
“In June of last year, we embarked on a 35th Season Capital Campaign to retire our short-term debt and most of our mortgage. With a $6 million goal, I am extraordinarily pleased to report that we have already raised just shy of $5.4 million in pledges and payments ($1 million will go towards the Tina Packer Fund for Shakespeare & Company to create a capital and operating reserve for the Company). As we continue to right the ship after weathering some tough years, and after being on our new property for just over 10 years now, we are working hard to secure our future, to develop and utilize our resources to be good stewards of our 32-acre campus, and to bring quality programming to our community.”
Again this season, Shakespeare & Company has paired several new and provocative works with a roster of expanded lectures and events, including the new Author! Author! series, Studio Series of new plays, and Founders’ Talks, which features many founding members who will highlight the past 35 years of the Company. The Company has also served as the host for numerous events in support of many Berkshire organizations and beyond, including the recent CATA Fundraiser, the WAM 24hr Theatre Project, the upcoming Berkshire British Motorcar Festival, as well as providing a new home, for the second year, for the Lenox Farmer’s Market–every Friday on Shakespeare & Company’s campus.
Ticket prices range from $15 to $95, with discounts ranging from 10-50% off of regular ticket prices that are available for Groups, Students, Seniors, Teachers and the Military – and the popular 40% discount available for all Berkshire County Residents is back again this year. Both Founders’ and Bernstein Theatres are wheelchair accessible and hearing-aid assisted. To learn more about the season, discount availability, to order tickets, meals, or request a season brochure, visit www.shakespeare.org. For group bookings, parties, and special event rental information and details contact David Joseph, Director of Sales & Group Tours, at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This has been both a tumultuous and an invigorating time for our Company, marked by the leadership transition from Tina Packer, our Founding Artistic Director to Tony Simotes, now entering his fourth season as leader of the Company,” says Board Chairman, Richard A. Mescon. “This was also the time when the Company weathered the most severe financial storm in its history, emerging solvent and stronger, thanks to the efforts of our patrons, supporters, staff and community leaders. We have now completed our third consecutive year with operating results in the black–a feat of which we can be justifiably proud during these trying times for not-for-profit cultural institutions.
“We have remained faithful to our vision and core principals,” continued Mescon, “using theater, and Shakespearean theater in particular, to educate our children, examine our world and its values, and perpetuate our cultural traditions.”
Fall & Winter Season
After Shakespeare & Company wraps up its summer season in September, the celebration of 35 Seasons continues into the fall and winter with three unique and dynamic productions in the Bernstein Theatre. The critically acclaimed adaptation of The 39 Steps will open September 22 and run through November 3. Back by popular demand, continuing the Company’s newest holiday tradition, The Santaland Diaries will be remounted this winter, featuring a surprise actor to portray the show’s side-splitting storyteller, Crumpet the Elf. Finally, the 35th Season will conclude with award-winning playwright David Ives’ adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s hilarious French comedy, The Liar, directed by founding member Kevin G. Coleman. Plus a cornucopia of special events and productions for the entire family to enjoy. Shakespeare & Company’s fall and winter brochure and calendar will be available online and mailed out in mid-July.
“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been incredibly proud of the work we’ve produced during the fall and winter months,” says Simotes. “It’s a testament to the talent we have here in the Berkshires, but also the commitment of our community to support the arts. Our fall and winter productions were tremendously successful last year, both critically and financially, and this year’s lineup is just as strong. Just when you think we’re closing the curtain on our 35th Season, we’ll be heating up the Berkshires with some hilarious shows.
“Shakespeare & Company is artistically vibrant as ever,” continues Simotes, “but we’ve also weathered the doldrums of this tough economy. We face the challenges that every nonprofit organization faces, but over the past two years we’ve emerged a stronger organization, financially, than we’ve ever been. The passion of our staff is infectious, and it’s their tireless work that will ensure our 35th Season is truly one of celebration. I’m so proud of where we are as an organization, and I can’t wait to see where the next 35 years will take us.”
Newly Announced Shows
The 39 Steps
Bernstein Theatre: September 22 – November 4
by Patrick Barlow
Adapted from the novel by John Buchan
Directed by Jonathan Croy
Featuring Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Jason Asprey, David Joseph, Josh Aaron McCabe
The Santaland Diaires
Bernstein Theatre: November 30 – December 30
by Joe Mantello
Adapted from the essay by David Sedaris
Directed by Tony Simotes
Featuring a surprise guest Elf!
Bernstein Theatre: February 1, 2013 – March 24, 2013
by David Ives
Adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille
Directed by Kevin G. Coleman
Featuring a cast of stalwart Company favorites and newcomers
Casting: S&Co.’s Summer Season
Founders’ Theatre: June 16 – August 19
Press Opening: June 23, 7:30pm
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Rebecca Holderness
Final Cast: Dennis Krausnick with Thomas Brazzle, Caroline Calkins, Jonathan Croy, Kevin G. Coleman, Timothy Douglas, Jonathan Epstein, Kelly Galvin, Zoë Laiz, Peter Macklin, Corinna May, James Read, Eric Sirakian, Brendan Sokler, Enrico Spada, Alex Stewart, Bill Watson, Ryan Winkles, Kristin Wold
Founders’ Theatre: July 19 – August 19
Press Opening: July 27, 7:30pm
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Tony Simotes
Final Cast: Olympia Dukakis with Thomas Brazzle, Greg Boover, Timothy Douglas, Apollo Dukakis, Jonathan Epstein, Monica Giordano, Stephanie Hedges, Merritt Janson, David Joseph, Peter Macklin, Casey McShain, James Read, Tom Rindge, Rocco Sisto, Ryan Winkles, Kristin Wold, Jennifer Young
Satchmo at the Waldorf
Founders’ Theatre: August 22 – September 16
Local Press Opening: August 24, 7:30pm
by Terry Teachout
Directed by Gordon Edelstein
Featuring John Douglas Thompson
The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife
Bernstein Theatre: June 12 – September 1
Press Opening: June 15, 8:30pm
by Charles Busch
Directed by Tony Simotes
Final Cast: Annette Miller with Jules Findlay, Sonya Hamlin, Malcolm Ingram, Jan Neuberger
Bernstein Theatre: May 25 – September 2
Press Opening: June 1, 8:30pm
by Norman Plotkin
Directed by Nicole Ricciardi
Featuring Tod Randolph
Bernstein Theatre: June 20 – September 2
Press Opening: June 22, 8:30pm
by Mark Roberts
Directed by Stephen Rothman
Final Cast: Kate Abbruzzese, Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Jason Asprey, Josh Aaron McCabe
Founders’ Theatre: June 28 – July 15
Press Opening: June 29, 7:30pm
by Split Knuckle Theatre
Adapted and created by Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, Michael F. Toomey, Greg Webster, with writer Nick Ryan
Directed by Split Knuckle Theatre
Final Cast: Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, Michael F. Toomey, Greg Webster
Founders’ Theatre: July 6 and July 13
Directed and Choreographed by Susan Dibble
Featuring Susan Dibble with Barbara Allen, Merry Conway, Grazia Della-Terza, Reilly Hadden, Sarah Hickler, Cecil MacKinnon, Rebecca Perrin, S&Co. artists and other special guests
Tartuffe the Imposter
Rose Footprint Theatre: June 27 – August 25
Adapted by Constance Congdon
Directed by Gina Kaufmann
Final Cast: Jake Berger, Greg Boover, Joan Coombs, Emily Ehlinger, Monica Giordano, Colin Gold, Caitlin Kraft, Conor Moroney, Luke Reed, Doug Seldin