Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announces cast, directors, production dates for 2023 season

Conway Institute of Music

CONWAY, AR — The 2023 season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is set to open June 15 with a production of Shakespeare’s adventure-romance, “The Tempest” in the new Windgate Center for the Fine and Performing Arts on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

The season also includes the madcap comedy, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” opening June 17, and the inaugural musical variety show, “Shakespeare Cabaret” opening June 22.

“Tempest” Selena Mykenzie Gordon (left), Steven Marzolf and Jordan Williams Photo Credit: Chad Bradford
Selena Mykenzie Gordon (left), Steven Marzolf and Jordan Williams
Photo Credit: Chad Bradford

In partnership with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the shows will close in Conway June 25, and then travel to Fayetteville to open June 30, for a limited run at the Global Campus Theatre in downtown Fayetteville.

“We are excited to produce a full season of shows here at AST for the first time since 2019,” said AST Managing Director Chad Bradford. “The pandemic hit all arts organizations in Arkansas particularly hard, so we are thrilled to bring a full season of professional theater all over the state!”

Shakespeare’s last great solo work, “The Tempest”, takes audiences on a journey to a remote island full of romance, magic, revenge, and redemption. The show will be directed by Morgan Hicks (co-founder and Arts Engagement Director at TheatreSquared) and will feature Selena Mykenzie Gordon (semi-finalist on “America’s Got Talent” and lead vocalist on “Cirque Dreams Holidaze”) as Miranda, Steven Marzolf (credits include La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf, Old Globe, and others) as Prospero, Betsy Jilka (credits include Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Trike Theatre, and others) as Iris, and Jordan Williams (credits include New Stage Company and stand-up comedy venues around the country) as Ferdinand. AST fan-favorite Matthew Duncan will once again compose original music for the piece and act as musical director.

“Complete Works” Pictured: Augustine Nguyen (left), Heather Hooten and Quinn Gasaway Photo Credit: Seth Foley
“Complete Works”
Pictured: Augustine Nguyen (left), Heather Hooten and Quinn Gasaway
Photo Credit: Seth Foley

The design team for “The Tempest” includes Callie Lythgoe (Costume Designer), Zach McJunkins (Lighting Designer), and Morgan McInnis (Scenic Designer).

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, follows three Shakespearean super-fans as they bring all of Shakespeare’s 30-something plays to life in a single evening. Long time AST favorite and leading actor, Dan Matisa (credits include Off-Broadway shows, television and film credits, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and others) will direct the piece. This fast-paced, fun, and frantic piece will have a limited tour around the state and is currently scheduled for The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute June 10, the Hot Springs Farmers Market June 16, and The Joint Comedy Theatre in Argenta July 6. The cast includes Augustine Nguyen (credits include Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Rep), Quinn Gasaway (credits include Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, DreamLogic Theatre of Chicago, and others), and Heather Hooten (multiple credits around Arkansas and Tennessee).

The design team for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” includes Keagan Styes (Costume Designer) and Austin Aschbrenner (Scenic Designer).

The “Shakespeare Cabaret” will tie music, comedy, and other variety acts together under a Shakespearean theme. The show asks what would Shakespeare think if he were alive in 2023 and where would he find inspiration. “It’s basically the Bard meets Carol Burnette,” said Bradford. “It is a completely original piece and will feature the unique and varied talents of our fabulous company of performers.”

“Shakespeare Cabaret”Riles Holiday (left), Matt Duncan and Leah Smith Photo credit: Seth Foley
“Shakespeare Cabaret”
Riles Holiday (left), Matt Duncan and Leah Smith
Photo credit: Seth Foley

AST is also planning a special sneak-peak of the season at “AST Knight’s Night” on June 9 at The Max Event Venue in downtown Conway. Donors who give at the “knight” level of $500 or more will receive two complimentary tickets to a special performance of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” which will include food, wine, music, and more. To donate, go to

Individual and season tickets may be purchased at

In conjunction with the summer season, AST will offer a four-week summer theatre camp for 2nd grade through 12th grade students which will culminate in an original show devised by the students. Emily Swenskie will act as youth director. For more information or to register, visit

Other cast members in “The Tempest” include: Grace Taylor as Ariel, Gabriel Franco-Kull as Sebastian, Ben Grimes as Antonio, Na’Tosha Devon as Alonso, Adam Frank as Gonzalo, Bryan Alstatt as Adrian, Ashton Fritzges as Francisco, Leah Smith as Trinculo, Nick Carpenter as Caliban, Riles Holiday as Stephano, Lauren Carlton as Juno, and Holly Ruth Gale as Ceres.

Performance dates and times are listed below:

“The Tempest” in Conway
June 15 – 7:30 p.m.
June 16 – 7:30 p.m.
June 17 – 2 p.m.
June 23 – 7:30 p.m.
June 25 – 2 p.m.

“The Tempest” in Fayetteville
June 30 – 7:30 p.m.
July 1 – 2 p.m.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” in Conway
June 17 – 7:30 p.m.
June 20 – 7:30 p.m.
June 21 – 7:30 p.m.
June 24 – 2 p.m.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” in Fayetteville
June 30 – 2 p.m.
July 1 – 7:30 p.m.

“Shakespeare Cabaret” in Conway
June 22 – 7:30 p.m.
June 24 – 7:30 p.m.

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