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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Staff Correspondent | December 4, 1991
Washington -- When you see the trial scene in the Shakespeare Theatre's production of Shaw's "Saint Joan," you begin to wonder why it feels so familiar. Is it because the audience has been conditioned by all of the televised hearings in recent years? Or is it because the scene strikes the chord the playwright suggested in his epilogue -- the realization that if Joan of Arc were alive today, we'd burn her all over again?In this production, directed by Sarah Pia Anderson, it's probably the former.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | January 29, 2014
Not to put too fine a point on it, "The Importance of Being Earnest" is the greatest comedy in the English language. If you harbor any doubt about that, you might want to consider therapy. Better yet, just head to the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, where a first-rate production of Oscar Wilde's gleaming and subversive work should persuade you. Its namesake notwithstanding, the company frequently delves into other repertoire and has given welcome attention to Wilde over the years.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | April 24, 1996
Greed comes in many forms. And, in the Shakespeare Theatre's production of Ben Jonson's satire on that subject, "Volpone," several of those are assumed by actress Pat Carroll.First, there's her trousers role as the title character. Like Falstaff, the gender-crossing lead she played here in 1990, Volpone is larger than life, and Carroll -- mustachioed, corpulent and moving with the self-satisfied swagger of the filthy rich -- once again proves up to the task.But playing a man is hardly Carroll's only disguise.
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By Gwendolyn Glenn | July 10, 2012
It's been performed hundreds of thousands of times on stages worldwide, in classrooms, on the big screen and on television, and, since June 29, William Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet" is being revived at Laurel Mill Playhouse. The show runs through July 15. The play is part of the theater's annual Summer Youth Shakespeare Theatre series, which means all of the characters are middle and high school students. The stage setting for the well-known play about the doomed love affair of two teenagers whose families hate each other is sparse.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | January 29, 2002
John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi is one of the gorier plays in English literature. But though it's a so-called "tragedy of blood," there's no blood visible in director Michael Kahn's intense production at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre. It's not that the requisite number of lives (eight) aren't lost. It's just that we don't see any of the red stuff being spilled. This turns out to be especially appropriate for a Jacobean revenge tragedy whose villains are extremely cold-hearted and bloodless.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 16, 2001
In the overwrought production of Hamlet at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, Hamlet's mother's bedchamber is completely encircled by sheer red curtains, and her bed is covered in red velvet. When Hamlet slays the old councilor, Polonius, who is hiding behind the curtains, the drapery cascades onto his corpse like an enormous pool of blood, and the murder is accompanied by a shrieking Psycho-like chord. Subtlety is not a hallmark of Australian director Gale Edwards' production, or of Wallace Acton's portrayal of the title character.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,SUN ARTS WRITER | September 1, 2005
Actors such as Patrick Page, actors who portray the greatest villains in history and literature, walk a taut and treacherous tightrope. To convincingly portray a man as evil as Iago in Shakespeare's Othello, more is required than merely memorizing lines and showing up at rehearsals. More is required than boning up on the development and motivation of psychopaths, though Page has done all of that. More is required, even, than identifying and empathizing with this most cunning deceiver and betrayer.
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By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,SUN ARTS WRITER | June 22, 2004
Evil exists in the world of Cyrano, but is nameless, faceless and kept at a distance. A new adaptation of the story about the 17th-century swordsman and poet with the enormous proboscis is currently at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre, and running throughout is the most old-fashioned, romantic, beguiling belief imaginable: that human beings are inherently noble. No wonder audiences have loved the play from the very first. It's true that there are bad guys in the world originally created by Edmond Rostand: aristocrats who will send a battalion of men to their deaths to exact a personal revenge.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 8, 1999
In his recent book "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human," critic Harold Bloom writes of the "apparent infinitude" of "King Lear." Director Michael Kahn's production at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre makes bold attempts to tackle -- and interpret -- that immensity.The biggest and boldest of these attempts works so well that it compensates for a lead performance that, at this early point in the run, lacks some of the commanding fervor necessary to make the role deeply affecting.Kahn's most audacious directorial choice is casting a hearing-impaired actress -- Monique Holt -- in the role of Lear's youngest and most beloved daughter, Cordelia.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | June 6, 2000
Imagine being trapped in a maniacal funhouse from which there is no escape, or walking through one of those distorted mirrors into an equally warped world on the other side. That's the dark, forbidding carnival world of Tennessee Williams' atypical, allegorical drama, "Camino Real," which is receiving a magically eerie production at Washington's Shakespeare Theatre. When the play opened in 1953, critics either loved it or hated it, and it's easy to see why. The script is filled with characters from literature who are less flesh-and-blood than stand-ins for ideas - Don Quixote, the perpetual optimist; Camille, "the courtesan who made the mistake of love" - and lines like, "Humanity is just a work in progress."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun | May 7, 2012
The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, best known for its summer productions outdoors on the hilltop grounds of the 19th-century Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City, has purchased a historic site for its second home — the 1885 Mercantile Trust & Deposit Co. building in downtown Baltimore. That distinctive red building, currently the home of the Club Dubai, was purchased for the nonprofit theater company's use by the Helm Foundation at a price of $1.25 million, the first step in a project with an estimated total cost of about $6 million.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | March 17, 2011
Although just about everybody recognizes Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" as a supremely brilliant comedy, the embrace of his other plays is usually not quite so hearty. Those earlier works have been faulted for being a little too stuffily Victorian in subject matter and view of the sexes, too obvious or contrived of plot, too skimpy with wit. Well, if Wilde's creativity had ceased with "An Ideal Husband," which premiered in 1895 just a few weeks before "Earnest," and if every production of that work were as incisive as the one currently being offered by Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company, the playwright's reputation would still rank high.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun | August 19, 2010
The Shakespeare Theatre Company is finally getting around to putting the "all" in their annual Free for All performances of the Bard's beloved classics. This year, the D.C. troupe — arguably the third best Shakespeare company in the world — is restaging its inventive and much-lauded production of "Twelfth Night" for 22 performances through Sept. 5. And for the first time, the theater is trying out an online lottery system that should ensure that audience members from Baltimore actually have a shot at the roughly 500 tickets that will be up for grabs before each show.
NEWS
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,mary.mccauley@baltsun.com | September 13, 2009
Helen Mirren is portraying a tragic Greek queen. Cate Blanchett takes on the role of an iconic Southern belle. Laurence Fishburne plays an esteemed judge. Billy Crystal spins comic scenes of family life. But rather than appearing on movie or television screens, these stars are aligning along several blocks in northwest Washington. Though touring productions with big-name actors frequently stop in D.C., and stars try out productions there or perform at the White House, this year is different.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,mary.mccauley@baltsun.com | October 16, 2008
It isn't love that makes the world go 'round, but jealousy. That's one conclusion to be drawn from the Shakespeare Theatre's production of The Way of the World. The characters drift around the stage in coats and dresses in various shades of emerald and hunter and lime. Costume designer Jane Greenwood wanted to reflect the characters' obsession with money; indeed, every man and woman on stage resembles a dollar bill with legs and a wig. But the color palette also mirrors the characters' moods.
BUSINESS
By NANCY JONES-BONBREST and NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | November 14, 2007
Anne Nesmith Wig designer Baltimore Opera Company; Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, and other theaters Salary --$70,000 Age --33 Years on the job --10 How she got started --After being involved with theater in high school, Nesmith graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in theater design and production. She went to work for a small theater in Norfolk, Va., and also began collaborating with the nearby Virginia Opera, learning the skills of building and designing wigs.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,mary.mccauley@baltsun.com | October 16, 2008
It isn't love that makes the world go 'round, but jealousy. That's one conclusion to be drawn from the Shakespeare Theatre's production of The Way of the World. The characters drift around the stage in coats and dresses in various shades of emerald and hunter and lime. Costume designer Jane Greenwood wanted to reflect the characters' obsession with money; indeed, every man and woman on stage resembles a dollar bill with legs and a wig. But the color palette also mirrors the characters' moods.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | November 18, 2000
The program for the Shakespeare Theatre's latest production describes the setting as, "The landscape of King Richard II's mind." Unfortunately, in this interpretation it's not an especially interesting mind to visit. Director Gerald Freedman's metaphorical setting makes some sense since, for most of "Richard II," the king is unable to see beyond himself. As portrayed by Wallace Acton, he's a weary, almost apathetic hedonist, a man who doesn't give a great deal of thought to much of anything, except self-indulgence.
NEWS
By Nick Madigan and Nick Madigan,Sun reporter | October 3, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Under a halo of popping flashbulbs, the capital's high society turned out in droves this week for the gala opening of the Harman Center for the Arts, which includes a new $89 million, glass-fronted auditorium that will be a new home for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Each of the guests - who included Chelsea Clinton, with Secret Service agents in tow, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - paid $5,000 to attend events that included a cocktail party; performances from, among others, Broadway star Patti LuPone and jazz virtuoso Wynton Marsalis; a fireworks display outside on F Street; and a banquet in the National Building Museum a couple of blocks away.
FEATURES
By Mary Carole McCauley and Mary Carole McCauley,Sun reporter | June 21, 2007
According to Shakespeare's text, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has reached the age of 30 and is a grown man. I suppose the author should know how old his own characters are, but I've always thought that what the Bard really crafted is a canny, dead-on portrait of a boy at least a decade younger. Hamlet is hyper-sensitive to slights to his nascent manhood. He is utterly self-absorbed, chafes at authority and is clueless about women. He runs hot one minute, cold the next. In other words, an adolescent.
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