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Much Ado About Shakespeare

June 13, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Shakespeare's influence will be evident on the Evanston campus during Northwestern University's summer theatre season and other theatre- and film-related events that will be open to the public.

The highlight of Summerfest 2006 is the world premiere of “The Boys Are Coming Home” (July 28-Aug. 13), a musical inspired by Shakespeare's comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” and developed by the University's American Music Theatre Project (AMTP). For more information about AMTP visit <www.amtp.northwestern.edu>.

Also scheduled is “Shakespeare's R & J” (July 7-23), a modern take-off of Shakespeare's classic “Romeo and Juliet”; a three-day Shakespeare conference, titled “Much Ado About Shakespeare” (Aug. 3-5) for actors, teachers, directors and the public; a free, weekly outdoor film series (June 21-Aug. 9) screened by Block Cinema that will feature five Shakespeare films and three recent family films; and a six-session Alumnae of Northwestern University summer course titled “Shakespeare: Fountain of Inspiration” that will meet from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursdays (June 22-July 27).

Northwestern's summer theatre festival includes the Chicago premiere of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's song cycle “Edges” (June 22-25); the world premiere of the musical revue “Broadway Now!” (Aug. 14-16) directed by Dominic Missimi; and the world premiere of Nancy Braun and Rachel Frankenthal's “Tap That!” (Aug. 17-19) -- a show that explores the history of tap dancing and some of its legendary stars.

In addition, a weeklong Johnny Mercer Celebration will include five cabaret concerts (Aug. 7-12) and a Johnny Mercer Tribute Concert (Aug. 12).

Summerfest 2006 performances will begin with the Chicago premiere of “Edges” at 8 p.m. June 22-24 and 2 p.m. June 25 at the Josephine Louis Theatre, 20 Arts Circle Drive. Created by Pasek and Paul, a new songwriting team, “Edges” is a song cycle that follows the pivotal moments in the lives of four distinct characters as each attempts to break free and discover the power of their true potential. Ticket prices range from $10 to $25.

Joe Calarco's “Shakespeare's R & J” is an energetic show that follows four young prep school students who grow tired of tedious school routines and begin to read “Romeo and Juliet” aloud. As the boys become enmeshed in the emotions of Shakespeare's words and story, their lives begin to parallel those of the characters in the play with surprising and thrilling results. “Shakespeare's R & J” will be performed at 8 p.m. July 7 and July 8; 2 p.m. July 9; 8 p.m. July 14 and July 15; 2 p.m. July 16;

8 p.m. July 21 and July 22; and 2 p.m. July 23; at the Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theatre, 1949 Campus Drive. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20.

The world premiere of AMTP's high-spirited musical “The Boys Are Coming Home” will be presented at 8 p.m. July 28; 8 p.m. July 29; 2 p.m. July 30; 8 p.m. Aug. 3 through Aug. 5; 2 p.m. Aug. 6; 2 p.m. Aug. 10; 8 p.m. Aug. 11 and Aug. 12; and 2 p.m. Aug. 13, at the Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 30 Arts Circle Drive. With a book by Canadian playwright Berni Stapleton from an idea by Timothy French, it will be directed by Gary Griffin. Griffin's Broadway production of “The Color Purple” was recently nominated for 11 Tony Awards. “Boys” is set at the end of World War II and celebrates the music of that era. Leslie Arden's score will take audiences on a captivating journey with four young women as they adjust to the challenges and joys of postwar life. The show's official opening date is Aug. 4. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30.

The world premiere of “Broadway Now!” will be presented at 8 p.m. Aug. 14-16 at the Barber Theatre. Directed by Northwestern theatre faculty member Dominic Missimi, the musical revue will pay tribute to the best music Broadway has to offer and will be performed by the University's Musical Theatre Program students. Ticket prices range from $10 to $25.

The world premiere of Nancy Braun and Rachel Frankenthal's “Tap That!” will be held at 8 p.m. Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 and 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Louis Theatre. This high-energy show focuses on two ambitious, tap-dance-loving young women who decide to explore their passion for this unique art. Audiences will witness the physical evolution of tap through singing, dancing, videos and original choreography by legends such as James “Buster” Brown, Gene Kelly and Savion Glover. Ticket prices range from $10 to $20.

Three-play subscription packages to Summerfest 2006 are $67 for the general public; $60 for seniors 65 and older and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $30 for full-time students and children.

Summerfest 2006 subscribers also receive reduced admission on single ticket prices for the two other summer plays. For more information, or to order a subscription, single or group tickets, call the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282.

Also of interest will be the Johnny Mercer Celebration (Aug. 7-12) and Tribute Concert at 8 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Louis Theatre. AMTP, in association with the Johnny Mercer Foundation, will host this tribute to the legendary Johnny Mercer (1900-1976) who wrote some of the most enduring standards of the 20th century including “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “One For My Baby” and “Moon River.” Ticket prices for this one-time-only event range from $15 to $27.

The Mercer celebration, “The Power of the American Popular Song,” will include four cabaret performances by guest artists, including some of America's most prominent songwriters, who will serve as faculty for a weeklong educational program of master classes and workshops for a jury-selected group of young composers. Each of the four cabaret performances will begin at 8 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive, including (Aug. 7) An Evening with Amanda McBroom (“The Rose”); (Aug. 8) An Evening with John Bucchino (“Grateful”); (Aug. 10) An Evening with David Zippel (“City of Angels”); and (Aug. 11) An Evening of New, Emerging Songwriters. Admission for each cabaret concert is $10. (Aug. 12) At 4 p.m. there will be a free open discussion with songwriter Alan Bergman  (“The Way We Were”).

For Mercer Celebration or Mercer cabaret tickets, call (847) 491-7282.

During the special three-day “Much Ado About Shakespeare” conference (Aug. 3-5), the works of William Shakespeare will be explored from a variety of perspectives, including the teaching, adaptation and performance of his plays. Participants will enjoy a selection of seminars, workshops and coaching sessions taught by critically acclaimed Northwestern faculty and alumni (including actor and Northwestern alumnus Harry Lennix) along with the opportunity to connect with a community of actors, directors and admirers. Admission is $550 for three days or $200 per day.

The Shakespeare conference is co-sponsored by the School of Continuing Studies Summer Session and the School of Communication's theatre department. For tickets or more information, call Northwestern's School of Continuing Studies at (847) 491-5251 or visit <www.scs.northwestern.edu/summernu/programs/Shakespeare.cfm>.

The conference coincides with AMTP's production of “The Boys Are Coming Home” and unifies many of Northwestern's summer Shakespeare-theme events, offering collaborations throughout the University and the community, including the department of theatre, AMTP, the School of Music, Block Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. 

In conjunction with Summerfest 2006, Block Cinema will screen eight free films outdoors at dusk (9 p.m. June 21-Aug. 9) on the east lawn adjacent to Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive. Among the five Shakespeare films in the series will be (June 21) “A Midsummer Night's Dream” (1999);  (July 5) “Forbidden Planet” (1956), which is based on “The Tempest”; (July 19) “The Tragedy of Othello” (1952); (Aug. 3) “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993); and (Aug. 9) “Hamlet” (1948).

Three recent family films which are part of the free film series include (June 28) “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005); (July 12) “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005); and (July 26) “Ice Age, Meltdown” (2006).

The eight-film series is co-sponsored by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art's Block Cinema, Norris University Center and the University's Summer Session. In case of rain, films will be screened indoors at Norris University Center. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000, ext 4.

“Broadway Now” director Dominic Missimi, a Northwestern theatre professor, will be one of the guest lecturers during the Summer Quarter 2006 Alumnae of Northwestern University course “Shakespeare: Fountain of Inspiration” that will meet on the Evanston campus from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. (June 22-July 27). The six-session course will explore the many ways in which the Bard's plays have inspired other writers, composers and performance artists. Weekly lectures will examine the innovative transformations of Shakespeare's dramas into new works for the musical stage, the classical theater, the modern stage, film, opera, ballet and modern dance. Guest lecturers will be William West and Wendy Wall, both associate professors of English at Northwestern; Geoffrey Edwards, director of the Marquee Theatre Company and stage director of the DuPage Opera Theatre; “The Boys Are Coming Home” composer and lyricist Leslie Arden; and “Boys” writer Berni Stapleton. The cost per course is $85. When space allows, per diem students will be admitted for $20 per session. For more information, call the voice mail at (847) 604-3569 or visit <www.alumni.northwestern.edu/education/alumnae.html>.

Topics: Campus Life