St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Julius Caesar at the Saint Lawrence Festival: this youthful staging highlights an excellent Richard Sheridan Willis in the leading role.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photos: Drew Hossick

Julius Caesar  by Shakespeare, directed by Rona Waddington,

During the first moments of the play, the Roman tribune admonishes the silly  people of Rome for wasting their time rejoicing about Caesar’s triumph over Pompey : “You blocks you stones, you worse than senseless things!” Especially since the same crowd recently cheered Pompey when he came to Rome. In this first tableau, Shakespeare and director Rona Waddington make several points. The Tribune , a male role, is played here by a woman so we know we are in a contemporary world of theatrical fun (never mind Brecht) , especially as the carnival atmosphere bursts joyously onto the stage. The audience is seduced immediately . This first contact also emphasizes the important notion that the fickle Roman crowd is easily manipulated by any talented orator such as Mark Antony, Brutus or Cassius whenever it serves their purpose, and this is one of the important strategies of Shakespeare’s text which clearly appears to be indestructible, no matter what one does in the acting space.

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Much Ado About Nothing. A lively production set in the Jane Austin Period!

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Photo.David Baker

Much Ado ABout Nothing by Shakespeare. Directed by Craig Walker. A production of the  St. lawrence Festival, Prescott

I recommend reading the excellent synopsis in the program, as this is one of Shakespeare’s most confusing comedies.  Set by Director Craig Walker in the period of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the plot twists through multiple misunderstandings, plotting, and eavesdropping.

The cast helps with the clarity, especially Michael Man as Borachio, an easily persuaded villain, and as the Friar who, in Act II, clarifies various deceptions.  Sarah English gives us a nicely three-dimensional Hero, as does Audrey Clairman as the maid, Ursula, and Jesse Nerenberg is a satisfyingly nasty villain in Don John.  Oddly, the broad acting style of Gabrielle Lazarovitz seems more suited to her Dogberry rather than her Beatrice.  However, she sings beautifully and in the opening scene she and Melissa Morris as Balthasar sing a lovely duet of an Italian Art Song.

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Creative “Julius Caesar” at the St Lawrence Shakeskpeare Festival at Prescott.

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Photo by David Blake.  Richard Sheridan Willis as Julius Caesar. 

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, directed by  Rona Waddington.

The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival has opened their season with a strong and creative production of “Julius Caesar.”  Director Rona Waddington, with special permission from Actors Equity, has recruited 18 volunteers to play soldiers, senators, and citizens along with the 12 professional actors.  These volunteers do a fine job with the complex staging, as well as making some very nippy costume changes.

There are two real stand-outs in this generally strong cast.  Ash Knight as a wonderfully nuanced Brutus and Richard Sheridan Willis as the complex Caesar are both expert at handling the language.  My companion said for once she didn’t have to translate in her head. Jesse Nerenberg’s Cassius tends to be on a single note of anger till Act II, when we see more of his wiliness.  As Octavius Michael Man does a nice job, also doubling as the timid Cinna.

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Strong “Romeo and Juliet” in Prescott at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Reviewed by Connie Meng

Rose Napoli as Juliet, Jesse Griffiths as Romeo.  Photo: SLSF

Rose Napoli as Juliet, Jesse Griffiths as Romeo. Photo: SLSF

A very good production of “Romeo and Juliet” is playing at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott.  Director Janet Irwin has set the play in the 1950s, perhaps the last decade in which marriage decisions were primarily made by parents, often in conflict with teen-agers’ raging hormones.  This decision allows designer Alex Amini to costume the actors so they can move easily through the athletic staging.  By the way, the various knife fights staged by Jonathan Purvis are remarkably effective.  Her costumes for the Capulets, particularly Juliet, are especially good.

The simple set of two sheer white panels with a circular sheer panel center designed by Julie Bourbonnais is very atmospheric.  The transformation to the tomb and the gradual lighting of the single paper lantern work very well. The a cappella dirges by Melissa Morris are good, but Lady Capulet’s snippet of “Blue Moon” seems out of place.

The cast is generally good, with just a couple of uneven performances.  Jonathan Gould is excellent as the Prince and also in his subtle guitar work.  Unfortunately Kathleen Veinotte gives an inconsistent performance as the Nurse, characterized off and on by a flat-footed caricature of a walk.  As Paris, Benjamin Sutherland gives us a realistically believable death scene.   (more…)

Hamlet at Prescott: Shakespeare’s Globe at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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Photo:

If you blinked, then – like Hamlet trying to steel himself to action – you missed your chance.

On Saturday, Prescott’s St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival hosted Globe To Globe, the riveting international touring production of Hamlet by London, England-based Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company. It was in town (and Canada) for two shows only before hitting the road again.

The company is touring Hamlet to every country in the world between now and 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The show also links to the 450th anniversary of the writer’s birth this past April.

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Rona Waddington will be the new artistic director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

News from Capital Critics Circle

Hamlet1GetAttachment.aspx Rona Waddington and Eric Craig (Hamlet, summer 2013)

The Board of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce the appointment of Rona Waddington to the position of Artistic Director, commencing in December 2014.
During a four month search and interview process, during which 18 candidates from across the country were considered, it was clear that Rona brought a wealth of outstanding experience to the table, together with a passion for Prescott gained during her time with the Festival last summer, when she directed Hamlet. This production was honoured with the Capital Critics Circle Award for Best Director.

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