Chesapeake Shakespeare Announces its 15th Anniversary Season
BALTIMORE (April 6, 2016) — Innovation and imagination are cornerstones of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and hallmarks of the theatre company’s 15th season, coming in 2016-2017.
Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar announces today a richly diverse 15th Anniversary Season with bold firsts and imaginative stagings of classic plays that build on its record of success. Highlights include the company’s first mounting of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Othello, and its first musical, a revival of off-Broadway’s 20th century romance by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, The Fantasticks.
“There is a momentum here at our theater. You can feel it,” Gallanar says, celebrating the company’s continuing expansion of its artistic, education, and community outreach programming. The plays this coming season will feature members of the CSC Resident Acting Company and a growing roster of Baltimore-area talent recruited since the theater moved here from Howard County in 2014.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on the variety of the work we present,” Gallanar said. “In our first 14 seasons, we have presented quite a diversity of styles and content. Like our namesake Shakespeare, we believe in big themes freshly presented in a wide range of styles. This season reflects that.”
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s 15th season will open with its first production of Shakespeare’s Othello. While the company’s production history includes 55 productions mounted over 14 seasons, “Othello is the most famous Shakespeare play we haven’t yet presented,” says Gallanar, who will direct it. This monumental tragedy, with its potent and timely themes of jealousy, power, and racism, is “a tough play, about some of humanity’s darkest qualities,” he says. “We are in the heart of a community that sometimes suffers as a result of some of those qualities, so we are anxious to explore this play with our audiences.”
Turning the focus to historical drama, Chesapeake Shakespeare will produce Maxwell Anderson’s Anne of the Thousand Days. It’s the story of King Henry VIII’s pursuit of bewitching young Anne Boleyn with a scandalous love that betrays his Queen and rends his country. Anne’s point of view is spotlighted, making the play a showcase for talented actresses. “This is a great historical drama that, like Shakespeare’s work, often concerns itself more with drama than history,” Gallanar says. “Some people might be familiar with the 1969 Richard Burton movie that was loosely based on the play but eliminated Maxwell Anderson’s blank verse. Much like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the play asks for little or no scenery, but relies on the skills of the actor and his or her words.”
Chesapeake Shakespeare’s holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol presented with a Baltimore twist, will return in December 2016. Gallanar’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic has Ebenezer Scrooge living and working in the heart of Victorian Baltimore. It has become a family favorite.
Taking the stage next is one of Shakespeare’s best-known and most-reviled villains. Richard III is the playwright’s concluding chronicle of the Wars of the Roses. As fascinating as he is horrifying, Richard III marries and murders his way to take the crown of England. Gallanar will direct an innovative staging that sets the story in World War One, and was first produced outdoors in Ellicott City in 2012. “Complete with gas masks and barbed wire, this delightfully frightening production is one of the most popular from our first 14 seasons,” Gallanar says. “It’s fun to bring back one of our favorites for this special anniversary season.”
Is any man worthy of razor-tongued Kate? A spring offering will be Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, a rollicking send-up of marital power struggles, as topical as it is comical. “The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most popular comedies in the history of the theater,” Gallanar says. “Why? Because we can all relate to the bumpy road love takes us on. Our company has a special knack for comedy, and we look forward to sharing one that the whole family can enjoy.”
“Try to remember the days of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow.” Even if you don’t know the play, you probably have heard this song from The Fantasticks, off-Broadway’s longest-running musical. The Fantasticks, with its universal themes and sentimental book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, tells of a boy and girl next door and their meddling, matchmaking fathers. Chesapeake Shakespeare has incorporated original and live music in its productions since its first production in 2002, which was Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. For Season 15, the company is poised to take the next step and mount its first musical. “We’ve been immersed in recent years in live music,” Gallanar says. “It’s become an important part of our aesthetic. Our Christmas Carol includes almost 20 live songs. A musical seems a natural step forward.” The director will be Curt L. Tofteland, who from 1989 to 2008 was producing artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and who is the founder of the much-acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars.
On its summer stage in the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City in 2017, Chesapeake Shakespeare will present The Tempest, Shakespeare’s magnificent tale of storm and shipwreck, mystery and magic. It will be directed by Lizzi Albert, a CSC Resident Acting Company member. “We love creating an island at the PFI in our beautiful outdoor home,” Gallanar says. “The Tempest is a play with a little bit of everything — drama, romance, wildly comic characters, spirits, creatures, magic. It’s Shakespeare’s last great play.”
Subscription renewals begin today. Subscription sales for new subscribers will begin May 6, online at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com/subscriptions or by phone at 410-244-8570. The Box Office is open Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am to 2pm, at the Baltimore theater, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore 21202.
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s
15th Anniversary Season, 2016-2017
Othello September 16 – October 9, 2016
Anne of the Thousand Days October 21 – November 13, 2016
A Christmas Carol December 2 – 23, 2016
Richard III February 10 – March 5, 2017
The Taming of the Shrew March 17 – April 9, 2017
The Fantasticks April 21 – May 21, 2017
The Tempest June 16 – July 23, 2017