501 Life Magazine | Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre to open season on June 9
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Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre to open season on June 9

The 11th season for the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre at the University of Central Arkansas will run Friday, June 9, through Sunday, July 9.

The four shows playing in repertory will explore “the power of persuasion.”

Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” will open Friday, June 9, outdoors on the McAlister Hall lawn on the UCA campus. At Reynolds Performance Hall on campus, Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” will open Friday, June 16; Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” on Friday, June 23; and the family Shakespeare adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew” on Thursday, June 29.

Each show examines the ways in which language is used to sway hearts and minds, whether it’s in the political arena, on the battlefield of love or singing about “Trouble” in a town square.

“Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy about friends who have sworn off love to focus on academic pursuits, is one of Shakespeare’s earlier works.

This is an opportunity to see one of his lesser-known but no less delightful comedies. AST’s production will feature festival favorite Robert G. Anderson as the foolish Spanish knight Don Armado.

"Audiences will remember Anderson from last season for his moving turn as Friar Laurence in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and in his scene-stealing role as Peter Quince in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’" said Mary Ruth Marotte, AST’s executive director.

Rebekah Scallet, AST’s producing artistic director, will direct. Her direction of last season’s “Romeo and Juliet” won rave reviews. Audiences will enjoy this pay-what-you-can comedy outdoors and under the stars.

AST’s summer season will see the return of many other favorites from seasons past, including Anderson, Paige Reynolds, and Dan Matisa, all starring in “Julius Caesar.” Matisa, returning for his 10th season at AST, will take on the title role.

"We are thrilled that this season marks our debut production of ‘Julius Caesar,’ one of Shakespeare’s most moving and relevant tragedies, with our company giving a contemporary spin to a time-honored tale," Scallet said.

Robert Ramirez, a professor of Acting at the University of Texas, will join AST for the first time as a director and will utilize the intimate on-stage seating in Reynolds Performance Hall.

The classic American musical, Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” brings a cast of colorful characters and bombastic tunes into the intimate on-stage setting.

Chad Bradford, a Little Rock native and UCA alumnus, stars as Harold Hill with AST newcomer Gabriella Pérez opposite as Marian the Librarian. Pérez has appeared in the National Tour of Kathleen Marshall’s “Anything Goes,” and comes to AST fresh off the Spanish-language premiere of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.”

Although “The Music Man” may seem an unusual choice for a Shakespeare festival to produce, Scallet said, “The way Willson uses music reminds me so much of how Shakespeare uses language as he incorporates complex rhythms and harmonies that help his characters achieve their goals.”

Conway Corporation is the presenting sponsor of this summer’s production of “The Music Man.”

AST’s Family Shakespeare is a one-hour adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew,” perfect for audiences of all ages. This musical take on the opposites-attract classic comedy stars AST favorite and Conway native Jordy Neill as Petruchio and AST newcomer Kat Cordes as Kate.

In addition to its shows onstage in UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall, “Shrew” will also tour the state, with stops at The Joint in the Argenta Arts District in North Little Rock on June 20 and 21; the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain on June 24; Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville on June 28; the Hot Springs Farmer’s Market Pavilion on June 30; the “Sparks in Park” festival in Magnolia on July 3; and at the Fowler Center at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro on July 9.

Tickets to the Reynolds Performance Hall productions of “Julius Caesar” and “The Music Man” are $32 per person ($25 for seniors/active military/students); tickets for “The Taming of the Shrew” are $10 for all. Two-play packages for “Julius Caesar” and “The Music Man” are also available for $45. Package buyers may also purchase tickets to “The Taming of the Shrew” for $8 each. The individual venues will handle ticketing for all touring productions of “Shrew.”

There is no reserved seating for any performance in Reynolds. Those requiring special accommodations such as wheelchair seating are encouraged to contact AST at contact@arkshakes.com or 501.852.0702 to make advance arrangements.

All outdoor performances of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” are pay-what-you-can (with a $15 per person suggested donation.) For more information about tickets or subscriptions, call the box office at 1.866.810.0012 or visit arkshakes.com.

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre is proud to be a part of the University of Central Arkansas and is grateful for the continued support and sponsorship of the following UCA entities: Office of the President, College of Fine Arts and Communication and Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing.

Luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion

“Lunch at the People’s House” is planned at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 13, and Wednesday, June 14, at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

Guests will enjoy a choice of three delicious entrees and a decadent dessert buffet.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit friendsofthemansion.org or call 501.324.9805.