It’s always tough to decide which shows to catch at any new summer season of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF), but 2019 – its 33rd year – is shaping up to be tougher than most. This year’s lineup, running in repertory from June 9 through August 31, includes the usual two Shakespeare plays plus two by other authors. But every one seems like a treat too good to pass up.
For one thing, HVSF is mounting its first musical production ever! And it’s a doozy: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s modern classic that puts a dark new twist on familiar fairy tales, Into the Woods. Jenn Thompson directs, and the cast includes Kendall Cafaro, Kayla Coleman, Jon Cook, Laura Darrell, Brandon Dial, Rhett Guter, George Merrick, Jason O’Connell, Luis Quintero, Leenya Rideout, Timiki Salinas, Britney Simpson, Ryan Washington and Nance Williamson.
HVSF’s longtime treasure Jason O’Connell will also star in the New York premiere of his own new adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano, co-written with Brenda Withers and co-produced by Two River Theater. Meredith McDonough directs a cast that also stars Britney Simpson as Roxane, with George Merrick, Luis Quintero and Nance Williamson in multiple parts. If you’ve ever seen O’Connell at work, you know that Cyrano is the perfect role for his full-throttle comedic talents.
And which Shakespeare play to pick? The ever-popular witty wordsmithery of Much Ado about Nothing, in which romance-averse Beatrice (Tina Chilip) and Benedick (Charlie Semine) engage in acid verbal sparring, even as mutual friends try to trick them into falling in love? HVSF stalwart Kurt Rhoads as Constable Dogberry should be worth the price of admission all by himself. Directed by May Adrales, the rest of the cast includes Kendall Cafaro, Kayla Coleman, Jon Cook, Brandon Dial, Michael Early, José Gamo, Stephen Paul Johnson, Sean McNall, Timiki Salinas, Stephen Michael Spencer, Alexandra Templer and Ryan Washington.
But then, how can we miss Cymbeline, among the more rarely performed of the Bard’s plays? One of his late romances, it’s set in ancient Britain and features one of his most beguiling girls-disguised-as-boys, the resourceful princess Imogen (Alexandra Templer). The cast also includes Kendall Cafaro, Tina Chilip, Kayla Coleman, Jon Cook, Brandon Dial, Michael Early, José Gamo, Stephen Paul Johnson, Sean McNall, Kurt Rhoads, Timiki Salinas, Charlie Semine, Stephen Michael Spencer and Ryan Washington. HVSF artistic director Davis McCallum directs.
The season will also feature a couple of free matinées and touring performances of HVSF’s remounted spring 2019 regional school tour of Julius Caesar. Some policy and pricing changes have been made, including the elimination of various processing fees; a new ability to exchange tickets up to one week in advance for a different date, for a $10 fee; and a flat $10 price, any night, for seats with obstructed views.
Tickets for the entire season are now on sale; prices vary by day of the week and location, topping out at $100 for primo seats on a Saturday night. To order – once you’ve made up your mind – call (845) 265-9575, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://hvshakespeare.org.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival , June 9-Aug. 31, $10-$100, HVSF Theater Tent at Boscobel House & Gardens, 1601 Rte. 9D, Garrison, (845) 265-9575, email@example.com, https://hvshakespeare.org