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Pa. Shakespeare Festival opens for season

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    Neal Bledsoe

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    Nondumiso Tembe

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    Patrick Mulcahy

Published May 31. 2019 08:04PM

When curating the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival season, Patrick Mulcahy looks for themes, resonances and connections between the plays by William Shakespeare and classic works of theater and the Broadways stage.

This is PSF’s 28th annual season and Mulcahy’s 16th season as PSF Producing Artistic Director.

He says, “The season is stacked to be a blast, just a lot of fun. There’s also this thread throughout the season of rebellion.”

The PSF 2019 season at Labuda Center for the Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is:

Main Stage, “Crazy for You,” June 12-June 30; “Antony and Cleopatra,” July 10-Aug. 4, in repertory with “Private Lives,” July 18-Aug. 4, plus “Shakespeare for Kids,” July 24-Aug 3.

At the Schubert Theatre, shows are, “The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian,” May 31-Aug. 3, the 2019 season children’s show, and “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” June 20-July 14, and “Henry IV, Part 1,” July 24-Aug. 4.

Continuing with the PSF 2019 season thread of rebellion, Mulcahy, says, “‘Henry IV, Part One,’ any history play. There’s always an insurrection.

“Even in ‘Crazy for You,’ there’s a banker who’s rebelling against that and instead wants to be a Broadway hoofer.

“The very nature of ‘Irma Vep’ is rebellion. The playwright, Charles Ludlum, is the master of camp paraody. And it also happens to be his funniest play, his most produced play.

“‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ rebellion is in each of their natures. They have big jobs running countries, which each rebels against. They gamble everything for love.

“‘Private Lives,’ the principal characters, Elliot and Amanda, are each rebels in their own way.

“Even the very nature of high comedy, often what makes it funny, is that people are determined and have been trained to match a certain social decorum.

“In a good high comedy, they’re often driven by the basest of human desires. The comedy is created by the conflict between the desire to transcend to a level of lightning wit and social decorum, but they’re compelled by these volcanic passions. So, sparks fly,” Mulcahy says.

Added to the mix at PSF is the casting of some 61 actors, many from New York and Los Angeles, and many of whom have Broadway, film and television credits.

The Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Crazy for You,” with music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, stars Broadway actors Danny Gardner and Hayley Podschun as love interests Bobby Child and Polly Baker, respectively.

Gardner’s credits include Broadway’s “Dames at Sea” and National Tours of “White Christmas” and “42nd Street.”

Podschun’s credits include Broadway’s “Hairspray,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Anything Goes,” the National Tour of “Wicked” (Glinda) and the movie, “Hail, Caesar!”

“One does not have to work to make these plays relevant,” says Mulcahy. “There’s a universal aspect of what these plays say to us, which is why we’re still doing them 400 years later.”

“It’s that which is part of our universal experience. Sitting in a theater, breathing the same air.

“So far, people are still coming to see Shakespeare. There must be a reason he’s the most produced playwright by far in the U.S. And they seem to want to come back to them.

“Great actors, great plays. That’s what we’re kind of after here,” says Mulcahy of PSF.

Tickets: Labuda Center for the Performing Arts lobby box office, DeSales University, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley; pashakespeare.org/psf_tickets.php; 610-282-WILL (9455)

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