Performances kick off June 7 with “The Comedy of Errors.”
CONWAY — Tickets are on sale now for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s 13th season, which will run June 7-July 7 at the University of Central Arkansas, with four shows playing in repertory, exploring themes of fate and chance.
The season will open 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. Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy includes twins separated at birth, mistaken identities, and unrequited love. Casting the two sets of twins is a challenge, but AST is excited to welcome four actors new to Arkansas to take on those roles — none of whom are actually related. Playing the Antipholus brothers are Justin Jones from New York and Keith Illidge from Chicago. The two Dromios, their sidekicks, will be played by Kyle Clark from Houston and Chris Farrell, Jr. from Chicago. Corrie Green, of Sherwood, Arkansas, who appeared as Perdita in 2018’s “The Winter’s Tale,” takes on the role of Luciana, continuing AST’s practice of bringing together the best artists from across the country with excellent local performers.
“‘The Comedy of Errors’ is Shakespeare’s quintessential farce, with witty wordplay and hilarious comedic moments,” said producing artistic director Rebekah Scallet.
Scallet herself 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. Reed comes to AST after several years as part of the esteemed company at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia.
“I’m so excited to have both Emily and Benjamin back with us to portray this iconic, complicated couple and to give audiences a new take on one of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies,” said Scallet.
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. He will be joined by Rebecca Brudner from New York, who will maker her AST debut as Sarah Brown. First Security Bank is the show sponsor for “Guys and Dolls.”
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, this hour-long adaptation is perfect for families to enjoy together. “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, among others. 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 (but not limited to) those on the autism disorder spectrum and their families.
Rounding out the acting company for 2019 is a talented group of veterans and newcomers, including Paige Reynolds, Will Stotts, Cody Walls, Verda Davenport, Barry Clifton, Moriah Patterson, Braxton Johnson, Ben Grimes, Kevin Alan Brown, Ashley Mahan, Brian Earles, Anthony Bryant, Dylan Blackwood, Patrice Phillips, Dylan Blackwood, Reagan Allen, and Zachary Blair, all of Little Rock; Chris Fritzges of Conway; Nick Narcisi, Charlotte Mae Ellison, and Jack Hradecky, all of Chicago; Maureen Toomey and Stephanie Craveon, both of New York; and UCA students Mikala Hicks, Augustine Nguyen and Saxon Whitehead. Audiences will again be seated on-stage for the three productions in Reynolds Performance Hall. 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.
There is no reserved seating for any performance in Reynolds. Those requiring special accommodations, such as wheelchair seating, are encouraged to contact AST at firstname.lastname@example.org or (501) 852-0702 to make advance arrangements.
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is the state’s only professional Shakespeare company and is proud to make their 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.