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Shakespeare festival naturally entertains
by Cortney Maddock
Jul 22, 2009 | 834 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo/Jay Strotz - 
Gina Daniels as Isabella and Michael Gotch as Angelo in the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's production of "Measure for Measure."
Courtesy Photo/Jay Strotz - Gina Daniels as Isabella and Michael Gotch as Angelo in the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's production of "Measure for Measure."
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Using the natural beauty that is Lake Tahoe’s blue waters and soft sand beaches to augment the stage and create a stunning backdrop that glimmers as the sun sets on the water, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival kicked off its 37th season on Saturday night with a performance of the dramatic comedy “Measure for Measure.”

In only its second year of complete in-house production, executive director Catherine Atack said that the festival stopped using outside production companies because it wanted to increase the quality of the festival’s performances. Executive producer Henry Woronicz agrees that the festival is doing something right.

“If any organization, as an arts organization, in our country can survive for 37 years, it must be doing something right,” Woronicz said.

Woronicz explained that some Shakespeare enthusiasts consider “Measure for Measure” a problem comedy because it doesn’t end with a clear decision being made or a happy conclusion.

“The most interesting stories don’t tie up nice and neat at the end,” Woronicz said. “If you take any an experience that has to do with laughter, sadness or joy, that’s what Shakespeare wanted.”

“Measure for Measure” director Carol Healey said this is the first time the festival has performed “Measure for Measure” and that she had to explore the reasons Shakespeare set it in Vienna in a politically volatile time period. She said she chose to take the play and set it in 1814.

“I love this romantic period,” Healey said, “this idea that nature can come up and ruin man’s idea of the world.”

“Measure for Measure” sees the Duke, played by Donald Mackay, struggle to keep the citizens of Vienna away from their overindulgence in vice and corruption. In an effort to get a hold of the city, the Duke appoints deputy Angelo to look over the city. Angelo, played by Michael Gotch, lets the power go to his head and arrests Claudio and his pregnant fiancée because of her condition.

Shortly after Claudio’s arrest and plea to be released, the Duke’s right-hand man, Escalus, played by Dan Kremer, casually shakes his head and aptly states, “Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall.”

In order to save her brother, Isabella, a nun in training played by the charismatic and captivating Gina Daniels, must make a decision: give up her virginity to Angelo at his request or let her brother die.

Isabella, along with the Friar, who conveniently overhears a troubling conversation between Claudio and Isabella, plot to save Claudio and expose Angelo.

“Measure for Measure” incorporates comedic timing with political scandal and sexual tension in true Shakespearean form. Although the festival gives the play a PG-13 rating, parents might want to be ready to field questions if bringing young children and should be warned of a forceful sexually charged scene between Angelo and Isabella.

In addition to “Measure for Measure,” the festival is putting on performances of the romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Much Ado” director Fontaine Syer said the genre is something Shakespeare helped to invent and that she has to find a way to put a spin on the play.

“ ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ puts a value on sassy women,” Syer said, adding that that value made her chose to set the play in the 1940s in the port city of Messina, Sicily. “I wanted to take advantage of the sassy women and Italian heritage.”

Syer said that she also picked the 1940s time period because it allowed the production to use music that could be more easily recognized by the audience.

“The music of the time period is so recognizable and so great,” Syer said, adding that play uses many songs by Glenn Miller.

“Measure for Measure” and “Much Ado About Nothing” play in a rotation schedule Tuesday through Sunday at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe. On Monday nights, the festival will host the Urban Village Monday Night Music Festival with every Monday showcasing music from a different artist.

Midweek pricing, Monday through Thursday, ranges from $14 to $17 for youth tickets and $22 to $60 for adult tickets. Weekend tickets, Friday through Sunday, range from $19 to $22 for youth tickets, and $27 to $77 for adult ticket prices. Ticket prices depend on seat location.

People are allowed to bring an ice chest to enjoy a picnic dinner or can purchase everything from a snack to full meals at the Shakespeare’s Kitchen located directly outside the seating area.

For more information on the plays and the music series, to purchases tickets and to view the Shakespeare’s Kitchen menu, visit www.laketahoeshakespeare.com.
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