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Weathervane Playhouse’s ‘Shakespeare in Hollywood’ Delights in Tinseltown Tomfoolery

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:08:00 PM

Weathervane Playhouse in Akron shouts, "Lights! Camera! Shakespeare!" as its 77th Mainstage season continues with the quick-witted, hilarious comedy Shakespeare in Hollywood, presented live on stage between Oct. 6 and 23, 2011.

The prolific and popular playwright Ken Ludwig – best known for such comedies as Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo – again turns his witty pen toward the world of show business. In Shakespeare in Hollywood, the time is 1934 and the place is Hollywood, where famed movie director Max Reinhardt is determined to film William Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the silver screen.

He soon finds more than he bargained for – thanks to a gaggle of fairies and a mischievous ass running amok on a Hollywood set. With a playful, "puckish" flourish, the play plunges the "real" Oberon and Puck – two key characters from the classic play – onto the Warner Bros. film lot. Here, Oberon and Puck get the chance to "play themselves" in a truly brave new world of glitz, glamour and Hollywood dreams.

Playwright Ludwig drew his inspiration for the fictional Shakespeare in Hollywood from the real-life 1935 film version of Shakespeare’s comedy, which starred Mickey Rooney, James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and took home two (for cinematography and film editing). In Shakespeare in Hollywood, Ludwig creates a comical behind-the-scenes look at the making of this landmark film – and he populates his play with such legendary movie-industry power players as movie mogul Jack Warner, gossip columnist Louella Parsons, infamous censor Will Hayes and big-time star Cagney.

Under the direction of Nancy Cates, Weathervane Playhouse’s Shakespeare in Hollywood delights in Tinseltown tomfoolery.

The Shakespeare in Hollywood Cast and their Ohio Residences
Scott Shriner (of Akron) plays the role of Max Reinhardt
Beau Reinker (of Kent) plays the role of Dick Powell
Henry Bishop (of Creston) plays the role of Jack Warner
Mark Stoffer (of Cuyahoga Falls) plays the role of Daryl
Derrick Winger (of Akron) plays the role of Oberon
Karen Wood (of Creston) plays the role of Louella Parsons
Holly Humes (of Wadsworth) plays the role of Lydia Lansing
Amanda Davis (of Akron) plays the role of Olivia Darnell
Ben Fortin (of Stow) plays the role of Puck
Tom Stephan (of Stow) plays the role of Will Hayes
Ron Cuirle (of Akron) plays the role of Joe E. Brown
Timothy Champion (of Akron) plays the role of Jimmy Cagney
Barry Friedman (of Hudson) plays in the Ensemble
Todd Shaver (of Akron) plays in the Ensemble
The Shakespeare in Hollywood Backstage Team and their Ohio Hometowns
Stage Manager – Kendra Schaefer (of Cuyahoga Falls)
Costume Designer – Jasen J. Smith (of Akron)
Sound Designer – Lois Bennett (of Akron)
Properties Designer – Jessica Maxson (of Akron)
Lighting Designer – Zach Nusbaum (of Fairlawn)
Scenic Designer – Alan Scott Ferrall (of Cuyahoga Falls)
Assistant Technical Director – Kathy Kohl (of Akron) 

About the Show’s Director
Returning to Weathervane to steer the Shakespeare in Hollywood ship is NANCY CATES, a frequent and popular Weathervane Playhouse guest director. She has directed a dozen shows for Weathervane spanning genres from comedy (Over the River and through the Woods, Blithe Spirit, Communicating Doors and The Last Night of Ballyhoo) to drama (A Man for All Seasons and All My Sons), from musical (Gypsy) to classic (The Two Gentlemen of Verona), and from farce (Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo) to thriller (Bloody Murder). Locally, Nancy is one of the two Artistic Directors of both Ohio Shakespeare Festival and Coach House Theatre, and she has worked as a professional director for 30 years. She has directed more than 150 plays at LORT (League of Resident Theatre), regional, university, community and dinner theaters in five states and she has won 17 newspaper, in-house and critics' awards for her shows (including a Best Production Chanticleer Award for her 2006 Weathervane production of Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor). She is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia.
About the Show’s Production History
Shakespeare in Hollywood
was commissioned by The Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered Sept. 5, 2004, at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Kyle Donnelly directed the production, and it won the Helen Hayes Award (honoring professional theatre in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area) as Best New Play of the Year. The cast of the Arena Stage premiere production of the play featured Alice Ripley in the role of Lydia Lansing; the former Lakewood resident and Kent State University graduate would later win the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Next to Normal. Since its premiere in 2004, Ken Ludwig’s comedy has been produced by hundreds of amateur and professional theaters across the United States.

About the Playwright
is an internationally acclaimed playwright whose many hits on Broadway, in London’s West End and throughout the world have made his name synonymous with modern comedy. He has won the Laurence Olivier Award, England’s highest theatre honor, as well as three Tony Award nominations and two Helen Hayes Awards. His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been performed in at least 30 countries in over twenty languages. His musical Crazy for You ran for over four years on Broadway and in London. Lend Me A Tenor, originally produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and revived on Broadway in 2010, was called "one of the two great farces by a living writer" by The New York Times. Ludwig’s other plays and musicals include Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and London’s Old Vic, starring Carol Burnett, Lynn Redgrave, Joan Collins and Frank Langella); Twentieth Century (Broadway, starring Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway); Treasure Island (London, Theatre Royal, Haymarket; 2009 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation); Leading Ladies (premiered at the Cleveland Play House in 2004); Be My Baby (starring Hal Holbrook and Dixie Carter); The Beaux' Stratagem (adaptation with Thornton Wilder at the request of the Wilder Estate); The Three Musketeers (Bristol Old Vic); An American in Paris; Sullivan & Gilbert; The Fox on the Fairway; and The Game's Afoot. His children’s play ’Twas the Night Before Christmas will premiere this November at The Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland. His work has appeared in The Yale Review, and he is writing a book for Crown Publishing entitled How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. He studied music at Harvard with Leonard Bernstein and theatre history at Cambridge University in England. For more information, visit his Web site at www.kenludwig.com.
Weathervane’s Shakespeare in Hollywood Ticket and Performance Information
Shakespeare in Hollywood plays on the Weathervane Playhouse Founders Theater stage between Oct. 6 and 23, 2011.

The low-cost preview performance is Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.; the official opening-night performance is Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m.

Between Oct. 7 and 23, 2011, performance days and times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Oct. 6 preview performance only are $15 each. Tickets for performances after Oct. 6 are $21 each.

$21 tickets for seniors and college students are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets for children (ages 17 or younger) are $19.50 at all performances after Oct. 6. Additional discounts for groups of 12 or larger are also available.

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