Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages Shakespeare's raucous comedy The Taming of the Shrew with a powerhouse, all-woman cast-setting up a witty and thought-provoking debate on politics, power, and love. Framed as a performance by a band of Suffragettes with additional dialogue by Second City's Ron West, The Taming of the Shrew launches Chicago Shakespeare's 2017/18 Season in the Courtyard Theater, September 16-November 12, 2017.
The year is 1919 and, amidst suffrage marches in Chicago, a women's theater troupe is convening to rehearse their upcoming comedy: The Taming of the Shrew. In the play, fortune-seeking suitors compete for the hand of the demure Bianca, but her father has decreed that her fiery and tempestuous sister Katherine must first wed. Petruchio takes on the task of wooing and winning her-and so begins the notorious battle of wits. Along the way, the Suffragettes re-examine the characters in Shakespeare's story, as well as their own status as women in society.
"There is a supreme power in reclaiming this story to be told by women, particularly now," Director Barbara Gaines notes. "Looking at this play through a woman's eyes brings the play's themes into sharp focus with wit, wisdom, and humor, and sheds new light on Shakespeare's characterizations of both men and women, and their relationships. These women are wickedly smart, and strong-and they will not be tamed."
Each actress in the ensemble cast performs dual roles: as one of the suffragettes presenting the play, and as a character in their performance of The Taming of the Shrew. Leading the company are Alexandra Henrikson (Mrs. Louise Harrison/Katherine) and Crystal Lucas-Perry (Mrs. Victoria Van Dyne/Petruchio). Henrikson appeared on Broadway in Larry David's Fish in the Dark and was nominated for a Helen Hayes award for her role in Ironbound at Round House Theatre. Lucas-Perry performed off Broadway in Storm Still: A King Lear Adaptation, and in Lincoln Center's Bull in a China Shop. Olivia Washington (Mrs. Emily Ingersoll/Bianca) appeared off Broadway as Laura in The Glass Menagerie; and on film in Lee Daniels' The Butler and Robert De Niro's The Comedian.
Six-time Jeff Award-winner E. Faye Butler (Dr. Fannie Emmanuel/Baptista) has appeared in multiple national touring productions (Mamma Mia!, Ain't Misbehavin, Nunsense), and on stages from coast to coast, including The Kennedy Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Signature Theatre. Hollis Resnik (Miss Judith Smith/Gremio) is a twelve-time Jeff Award-winner, including a win for her performance as Carlotta in Chicago Shakespeare's Follies. She has also appeared in the national touring casts of Les Misérables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Jeff Award-winner Heidi Kettenring (Mrs. Dorothy Mercer/Tranio) returns to Chicago Shakespeare in her eighth production, after having appeared in the Tug of War saga, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The School for Lies. Tina Gluschenko (Mrs. Beatrice Ivey Welles/Hortensio) was a member of CST's collaboration with the Second City: Hamlet the Musical, which later played in New York at Ars Nova. Other Chicago credits include Candide and A Little Night Music at the Goodman Theater. Kate Marie Smith (Mrs. Olivia Twist/Lucentio) appeared in Chicago Shakespeare's productions of King Charles III and Twelfth Night, and on Chicago Fire.
Rounding out the cast are Lillian Castillo (Mrs. Lucinda James/Biondello), Cindy Gold (Mrs. Sarah Willoughby/Vincentio), Ann E. James (Mrs. Elizabeth Nicewander/Pedant), Rita Rehn (Mrs. Mildred Sherman/Grumio), and Faith Servant (Mrs. Barbara Starkey/Curtis).
Ron West creates additional dialogue for the production, setting the Suffragette's story alongside Shakespeare's play. West's illustrious career spans over two decades, having written for shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?, as well as serving as a writer and associate artistic director at The Second City. West previously collaborated with Gaines on The Comedy of Errors in 2008, which garnered Jeff Awards for Best Production and Best Adaptation. West also wrote the book, music, and lyrics for The Second City's Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet, which had a wildly popular run at Chicago Shakespeare in 2005.
Joining Barbara Gaines on the creative team are Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet and Costume Designer Susan Mickey. Depinet returns to Chicago Shakespeare, where he has designed more than a dozen productions, including most recently Love's Labor's Lost, The Heir Apparent, and Sense and Sensibility. Jeff Award-winning designer Mickey is best known for her sumptuous and playful costumes-exemplified in her previous CST designs for Shakespeare in Love, Sense and Sensibility, and The School for Lies. Chicago Shakespeare's resident Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie completes the character's looks with period hairstyles. Lighting Designer Thomas Hase is a veteran designer for international opera and theater stages, including the 2006 Broadway revival of Company. David Van Tieghem, who most recently worked on CST's Measure for Measure, leads the production's sound design. Completing the creative team are Rinska Carrasco as Assistant Director and Kevin Gudahl as Verse Coach.
For more information, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/shrew.
The Taming of the Shrew will be presented in Chicago Shakespeare's Courtyard Theater, September 16-November 12, 2017. Single tickets are on sale now for $48-$88 (subject to change). Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more, as well as CST for $20 tickets available for patrons under 35. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater's website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
CST strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. The Taming of the Shrew will have an Audio-described performance on Sunday, October 22 at 2:00 p.m. (with optional touch tour at 12:00 p.m.); Open-captioned performances on Thursday, November 2 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and an ASL Duo-interpreted performance on Friday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) is a leading international theater company and the recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to creating extraordinary production of classics, new works and family programming; to unlocking Shakespeare's work for educators and students; and to serving as Chicago's cultural ambassador through its World's Stage Series. Through a year-round season encompassing more than 650 performances, CST attracts 225,000 audience members annually. One in four of its audience members is under eighteen years old, and today its education programs have impacted the learning of over one million students. CST is proud to take an active role in empowering the next generation of literate, engaged cultural champions and creative minds. During 2016, CST spearheaded the Shakespeare 400 Chicago festival in addition to announcing the creation of an innovative performance venue, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare.