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Shakespeare Fest pulls out all the stops

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The Treasure Valley summertime institution celebrates its 35th anniversary with plenty of Sir William’s works

Friday, June 3, 2011 11:35 am

By Dan Lea Idaho Press-Tribune

BOISE ― More Shakespeare … more often. That’s what director Charlie Fee promises audiences who come to bask in the early evening summertime twilight at the 35th annual Idaho Shakespeare Festival that opens this weekend.

“We have a really great, broad mix of plans and experiences for audiences this summer,” Fee said in an interview with 3G. “We’ve got more Shakespeare than we’ve done in a single season in some time with “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and of course, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”

What that means for audiences is that they will see every play in the Shakespeare canon this summer.

Fee gleefully admits that might be a bit of a “send-off” but quickly added that performing so much of Sir William’s work is a blast for the company.

“I think it’s going to be a great year for us,” Fee said. “It’s our 35th anniversary and we were kind of hoping to pull out all the stops and I think we’ve got a fantastic company and a great line-up for it.”

“‘The Complete Works (Abridged)’ is kind of a signature piece for us,” Fee said. “We’ve done it before and it’s super fun.”

What makes this year’s production of “The Complete Works” extra special, according to Fee, is that the Fool Squad duo of Joe Golden and Tom Willmorth return to the stage to star in the production after last year’s hiatus. The duo wrote and starred in a Boise Contemporary Theater production last summer and only appeared in their “Green Show” prior to Shakespeare performances.

“‘Two Gents’ is one of the great early comedies of Shakespeare and a piece we’ve created a very interesting production that features live music being performed and sung by our company,” Fee said. He said the live music sets the mood and rhythm for the play.

“It’s a different kind of experience and a big experiment for us,” Fee said.

Cast blends veterans and exciting newcomers

This year’s Shakespeare Company boasts loads of familiar faces and some bright new talent. Veterans Sara Bruner, Jodi Dominick, and David Anthony Smith join Golden and Willmorth among the regulars that audiences have come to love.

“The two young lovers in ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ are new to us but are doing a spectacular job,” Fee said. “We’ve got lots of new, talented performers we are excited for audiences to see.”

‘The Two Gentlemen’ debuts

Fee said that “Two Gents” has been the poor stepsister of Shakespeare plays for too long.

“It is a play that has been largely kind of dismissed by Shakespeare scholars because it’s an early comedy, but I think they are really making a mistake by doing that. It’s a great play,” Fee said.

“It’s a play where we see the development of all of these characters Shakespeare is going to continue to work on from later plays. It is the beginning in the line of great characters from Julia who dresses as a boy in order to negotiate her way through the world to the clowns we see in later productions.”

“Two Gents” is extremely accessible to audiences, Fee said.

“It’s four kids who are really trying to figure out what it means to be friends, what it means to fall in love and how to negotiate the difference between friendship and passion, and how to love someone,” Fee said. “Of course they do a terrible job of it,” he laughed.

In the end, “Two Gents” is about forgiveness and understanding.

“It’s not a physical comedy … much more like a romantic comedy and quite dramatic in many ways,” Fee added. “And the live music being played live gives it a very, very beautiful rhythm. I think audiences will love it and it is a contemporary setting of the play.”

Click to read at Idaho Press Tribune