To paraphrase Shelley: If spring comes, can summer Shakespeare festivals be far behind? Cold nights and melting snowdrifts tell us that it’s too soon for outdoor theatricals, but the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck always likes to get a jump on the season with a spring series in its own rural counterpart of the Globe Theatre.
The Center’s 2017 Spring Shakespeare Festival kicks off this weekend with the Rhinebeck Theatre Society’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Beckettian black-comedy spin on Hamlet, the Tony Award-winning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. These two minor characters from the Bard’s timeless tragedy banter with philosophical ramblings questioning fate, death and madness, wondering how it all pertains to them. They interact with not only the major characters of Hamlet, but also the slightly sardonic troupe of players who, in the end, perform the play-within-a-play to “catch the conscience of the king” – in addition to giving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern a glimpse of their own unlucky fates.
The main cast members include Brett Owen as Guildenstern, Steven Cohen as Rosencrantz and Michael DaTorre as the Player. Robyn Sweetnum Smith directs. The play will be presented in classic Elizabethan costume.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead runs from March 31 through April 9, with performances beginning at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays plus 3 p.m. Sunday matinées. Tickets cost $24 general admission, $22 for seniors and children. If not already sold out, $20 rush tickets are available at the door. For reservations, call (845) 876-3080 or visit http://centerforperformingarts.org. The Center for Performing Arts is located at 661 Route 308, three-and-a-half miles east of downtown Rhinebeck.