Shakespeare 2008

Friday marks the opening of the Tony Award""winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2008 season &

and its 73rd year. This will also be the festival's inaugural event under the new artistic direction of Bill Rauch.

Four productions will take place on two stages during the opening weekend, Feb. 22-24. Later this season, OSF will open seven more plays on its three stages. Productions on the outdoor Elizabethan Stage will open the weekend of June 13. OSF's 2008 season runs through Nov. 2 and offers 783 performances of 11 productions. The season offers a diversity of work led by new and returning directors.

Kicking off the weekend will be William Shakespeare's comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," directed by guest artist Mark Rucker, who is making his directing debut at OSF. The show opens at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Sometimes referred to as Shakespeare's perfect play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" opens with quarrels among the mortals in Athens' court and between the forest's Fairy King Oberon and his Queen Titania. Young lovers flee the Court in order to seek happiness together and find their love strangely twisted by Puck's fairy madness. Rucker has infused the play with a 1970s mix of lighting, dance and music. The cast of 23 includes Michael Elich as Theseus, Shona Tucker as Hippolyta, John Tufts as Puck, Christine Albright as Titania, Kevin Kenerly as Oberon, Ray Porter as Bottom, and Christopher Michael Rivera, Tasso Feldman, Kjerstine Anderson and Emily Sophia Knapp as the young lovers.

Scenic design is by guest artist Walt Spangler; costumes are by guest designer Katherine Roth. Lighting is by resident designer Robert Peterson and music is by resident composer Todd Barton. Martine Kei Green is dramaturg; Andrew Wade is voice and text director. Ken Roht is choreographer, and Corey Atkins is assistant director.

Opening at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre will be August Wilson's "Fences," directed by Leah C. Gardiner. Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize for this story of a working class African-American in the decade before the civil rights movement. Troy Maxson believes prejudice kept him from playing major league baseball. Now he hauls garbage. Embittered by his past, Troy barricades his family against disappointment, and father and son are pitted against each other in a devastating struggle. Leah C. Gardiner directs for the first time on an OSF stage.In his OSF debut, Charles Robinson will play Troy Maxson. Shona Tucker plays his wife Rose; Cameron Knight plays Cory, their son; Josiah Phillips plays Bono, Troy's best friend; Kevin Kenerly is Lyons, Troy's son from a pervious relationship; G. Valmont Thomas is Gabriel, Troy's brother; and Raynell, the young daughter of Troy and his mistress, is played by Catiana Graham and Dominique Moore.

Scenic design is by guest artist Scott Bradley ("Topdog/Underdog," "The Piano Lesson"); costumes are by guest artist Elizabeth Hope Clancy. Lighting is by guest artist Dawn Chiang, in her ninth season with OSF, and the composer is Michael Keck, in his fifth season at OSF. Martine Kei Green is the dramaturg, Scott Kaiser is the voice and text director and Corey Atkins is the assistant director.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, audiences will be treated to Sudraka's 2000-year-old Indian classic "The Clay Cart" (translated by J.A.B. van Buitenen), directed by Bill Rauch, in his seventh season as a director at OSF. A play bursting with music, dance, color, action, romance and intrigue, this 2,000-year-old Indian epic (give or take 1,000 years) proves that great storytelling transcends the centuries. Journey through a world where gamblers, holy men, courtesans, political fugitives and royal scoundrels meet &

and good people triumph.

The cast of 25 (and three onstage musicians) features Cristofer Jean, Miriam A. Laube, Brent Hinkley, Michael J. Hume, Jeffrey King, Eileen DeSandre, Richard Howard, Neil Shah and Dee Maaske.

Scenic design is by Associate Artistic Director Christopher Acebo; costumes are by resident costume designer Deborah M. Dryden. Lighting is by Christopher Akerlind and composition and sound design is by Andre Pleuss. Choreography is by Anjani Ambegaokar, and movement and fight direction is by John Sipes and U. Jonathan Toppo. Ketu H. Katrak and Dan Michon are the dramaturges on the project, and Andrew Wade is the voice and text director.

Completing the weekend's openings will be the world premiere production of Julie Marie Myatt's "Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter," opening at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, in the New Theatre.

When U.S. Marine Jenny Sutter returns from Iraq, she lays down her rifle but isn't ready to pick up her children. Buying some time, Jenny takes a one-way trip to a desert community where misfit residents gently nurture her wounded spirit and nudge her back to her own humanity. Award-winning Chicago director Jessica Thebus premieres Myatt's humor-filled and tender-hearted tribute to those who serve and those who welcome them home. The play will move to the Kennedy Center in July.

The cast features Gwendolyn Mulamba as Jenny Sutter, as well as OSF veterans David Kelly and Gregory Linington and newcomers Kate Mulligan, Cameron Knight and K.T. Vogt.

OSF principal scenic designer Richard L. Hay has designed the set. Costumes are by Lynn Jeffries, lighting design is by Allen Lee Hughes and music is by Paul James Pendergast. Lue Morgan Douthit is the dramaturg and Scott Kaiser is the voice and text director. Ross Matsuda is assistant director. OSF is offering two complimentary tickets to active duty military, reservists and veterans as a way of saying thank you and welcome home. Complimentary tickets are available throughout the run of the show (Feb. 19-June 20).

As the season continues, also playing in the Angus Bowmer Theatre will be Tony Award-winning playwright Jeff Whitty's "The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler," directed by Bill Rauch (opening April 19), and Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge," directed by OSF artistic director emeritus Libby Appel (opening July 26). Opening in the New Theatre on March 29 will be Shakespeare's "Coriolanus," directed by Laird Williamson, in his14th season at OSF. Luis Alfaro's "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner" will open July 5 under the direction of Tracy Young.

A 20th-century American classic, "Our Town," directed by Chay Yew, will play on the Elizabethan Stage, the first time an American play has been performed on the outdoor stage. Also playing outside will be Shakespeare's "Othello," directed by Lisa Peterson, and "The Comedy of Errors," directed by Penny Metropulos (former OSF associate artistic director).

Check availability of tickets online at or call 482-4331 or 800-219-8161.

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