2016 Summer/Fall Season opening at Blackfriars Playhouse

american shakespeare centerThe American Shakespeare Center prepares to open its 2016 Summer/Fall Season, with performances of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Twelfth Night, King Lear, and The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2).  The Summer/Fall Season features comedy, tragedy, history, and rock and roll as the ASC celebrates fifteen years at the Blackfriars Playhouse.

In the past fifteen years the Blackfriars Playhouse has produced 214 productions of 99 plays, more than 4,500 performances, and over 750,000 tickets sold.  This Season’s four productions will transform the Playhouse stage from Lear’s divided kingdom to the mirthful melancholy of Ilyria, from Andrew Jackson’s populist America to Queen Margaret’s civil war-torn England.  For fifteen years ASC audiences and actors have been a part of what Andrew Gurr, the first Director of Research at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, calls “one of the most historically important theatres in the world.”  This year five actors new to the Blackfriars Playhouse stage join seven returning ASC actors to continue sharing the joy of Shakespeare through world-class performances.

June 14th join the ASC for their first of three Pay-What-You-Will performances of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s heartwarming comedy of mistaken identities and misplaced love.  Confusion runs rampant, as nobles and servants alike navigate twisted paths to their “happily ever after.”  Beth Burns of Austin’s Hidden Room Theatre directs ASC veterans John Harrell as the love-sick Orsino and Allison Glenzer as the grieving Olivia.  The ASC’s vibrant, unplugged, and live music underscores this classic comedy.  Additional PWYW performances will take place on June 16th and the 18th.

On June 15th, the troupe begins performances of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock and roll musical complete with rock anthems, power ballads, and wiley politicians. Directed by ASC artistic director Jim Warren, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson careens through the life and career of the charismatic and controversial seventh president. Patrick Earl plays Jackson and Chris Johnston keeps the tunes coming as the Bandleader. This unswerving (and R-rated) look at American history (sort of) and one of its most infamous presidents will keep you singing along and on the edge of your seat. An additional PWYW performance will take place on June 17th. Audience members should arrive at 7pm to catch an unusual pre-show performance of our National Anthem, and the Declaration of Independence.

Then, on July 7th,  this talented troupe of actors adds another title to the rotation:  King Lear, Shakespeare’s profound exploration of the meaning of human life.  Both a family drama and a political commentary, King Lear’s relentless gaze at man’s frailty and inhumanity reveals the strength of human love.  Jenny Bennett returns to the Blackfriars Playhouse after last year’s The Winter’s Tale, to direct this timeless tragedy featuring René Thornton Jr. in the title role. PWYW performances will take place on July 7th and 8th.

Later in the Season, on September 7th, the ASC presents the first of two Pay What You Will performances of The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2), the second-chapter of England’s Wars of the Roses directed by Jim Warren.  Young King Henry’s fierce and ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, leads the House of Lancaster (the red rose) in brutal civil wars against the House of York (the white rose) and its would-be-king, Richard, Duke of York. Witchcraft, demons, murders, the spectacular Jack Cade rebellion, and the introduction of Dickie the crookback prodigy (who will become the villainous King Richard III) all conspire to make this play unforgettable and unmissable.  Allison Glenzer and Patrick Earl return as the Queen and her lover, the Duke of Suffolk, while René Thornton Jr. takes on Richard.  The following PWYW performance will take place on September 9th.

Other cast members rounding out this repertory troupe of 12 are returning actors Lauren Ballard (The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors at ASC) and Benjamin Reed (Measure for Measure, Macbeth at ASC) and newcomers David Anthony Lewis (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, ACT Theatre Seattle); Shunté Lofton (Texas Shakespeare Festival, Houston Shakespeare Festival); Zack Powell (Shakespeare Theatre Co., Utah Shakespeare Festival); Alexander Sovronsky (New York Shakespeare Festival at The Public; Theatre for a New Audience NYC); and Jessika Williams (Shakespeare Theatre NY, National Theatre of Scotland).

Audience members are invited to join the ASC Staff and Actors for the Summer Season Opening Night Party in the Blackfriars Playhouse on June 17th following the 7:30pm Opening Night performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Tickets for the ASC Summer/Fall Season and can be purchased by calling 1.877.Much.Ado (1.877.682.4236).  The ASC also offers special Talkbacks with the actors and pre-show lectures and workshops – check the full ASC calendar for details.  Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County residents can take advantage of a limited “mid-week local rush” ticket. Student and Senior discounts are also available.


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