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Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 Season

Celebrating 81 years

Our intent in posting these reviews (see below) is to provide insight to the OSF productions. Hopefully this will help our guests when making decisions on what plays to see when visiting Ashland.  Keep in mind that these reviews are unavoidably biased even though based in our own theatrical knowledge and lifelong experiences of attending plays, and Corbet's Theater Arts background. Enjoy and see you at the theater.

Don’t forget to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Company’s website (www.osfashland.org) for more information, cast lists and video clips relating to the OSF 2016 Season’s plays.
 

 
Feb 20 - Nov 1, 2015
Angus Bowmer Theatre        
By William Shakespeare
 
Directed by Christopher Liam Moore                      

With cinematic nostalgia not necessarily expected from the theater (let alone Shakespeare), OSF gleefully offers up this well-known play of twins, mistaken identity, desire, gender confusion and, above all, love, as a madcap romantic comedy, more akin to the likes of Noel Coward or Cole Porter than the Bard. Utilizing a set that evokes the sparse deco extravagance of a big Hollywood production number, dressed in costumes that conjure classic deco elegance, the entire cast is spot on in their performance (particularly Gina Daniels as the loveless Olivia, and Danforth Comins in a surprisingly funny turn as Andrew Aguecheek). From Movietone News to Busby Berkeley, Christopher Liam Moore’s celluloid-inspired vision has created a Twelfth Night that’s not only refreshingly inventive, but a thoroughly fun, satisfying theatrical experience, as well.

 

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February 20 - October 30, 2016
Angus Bowmer Theatre        
Adapted by Penny Metropulos and Linda Alper | From the novel by Charles Dickens | World Premiere Adaptation
 
Directed by Penny Metropulos
  
Adapting a beloved literary classic is a risky venture. Adapting one that’s previously been adapted more times than one can count on both hands (13 film, TV and theatrical versions) is, well, just asking for trouble. Thankfully, a uniformly strong cast makes this production of Dickens beloved classic treatise on society, family, friendship and love one that’s at least palatable, albeit uninspired. Through no discernible fault of their own, the huge cast is required to present 3+ hours of multi-person expository narration that’s disruptive to episodic scenes, leaving little time for meaningful character development. Viewers not familiar with the novel will, most likely, find an evening of mild entertainment in this production. However, if you’re one of the many who’ve included the classic as part of your life’s literary roster, you may be better satisfied by viewing Mike Newell’s recent film adaptation. Although far from perfect, it’s sumptuous, well acted, and contains much of the same dialog (word for word) as this year’s production, but without the narration and just over 2 hours in length.

February 21 - July 7, 2016
Angus Bowmer Theatre
by Marisela Treviño Orta | World Premiere
 
Directed by Laurie Woolery                  

Magic, poetry and music blend beautifully in this folktale of conflicting human emotion set in the Amazon jungle. The powerfully adult story unfolds on a sparse set dominated by simple cycloramic projections, to evoke a child’s storybook view of the world and feeling of magical wonder, while never failing to give the audience a sense of time, place or cultural reality. Although relatively small for the Bowmer’s large stage, the incomparable cast, too, creates its own magic in creating an intimate ensemble experience more akin to one found in the Thomas Theater, transforming Marisela Treviño Orta’s tale of love and desire into Laurie Woolery’s truly moving directorial vision. As ambiguous as it is heart-breaking (like most well-told fables), this emotionally charged tale is sure to satisfy on all theatrical levels.

February 24 - October 30, 2016
Thomas Theatre
Music by Arthur Sullivan; libretto by W.S. Gilbert | Adapted by Sean Graney, Andra Velis Simon and Matt Kahler | World Premiere Adaptation
 
Directed by Sean Graney 

To be clear: Sean Graney’s country-western re-envisioning of this classic operetta is definitely not (!!!) your father’s Gilbert & Sullivan, and purists will no doubt have some (very modern) major problems with this tale of corrupt prison wardens, honorable outlaws, mistaken identities, and love-sick jailors. Despite that – and galloping in at a whopping 80 minutes, including a 1-minute intermission (yes, you read that correctly) – this production is likely to become one of the most enjoyable, jaw-dropping surprises of the 2016 OSF Season. If you’ve purchased Promenade Seating for your performance, be prepared to move (often!) during the course of this madcap, country-crazy show. However, if you’ve purchased a reserved seat, don’t let that stop you. Get up; walk around; belly up to the bar and order yourself a drink. In short, it’s pretty much a case of anything goes in this completely whacky, immersive theatrical experience where the amazing, multi-talented cast appears to be having just as much fun as the audience. To say more would be unkind, so put on yer chaps, slap on yer spurs, tune up yer geetar, and getcherself a ticket, y’hear?

 
 

 

Vietgone

star rating

Vietgone

March 30 - October 29, 2016
Thomas Theatre
by Qui Nguyen | Directed by May Adrales

What do refugees sacrifice when forced, by circumstance, to adopt a new homeland? Are they able to assimilate into a new, strangely liberating life that’s rife with potential commercially-laced prosperity? Can they do this without losing their own cultural identity – especially when that identity has been transformed by the ravages of war? Can they find love and happiness in the midst of a Texas refugee camp? These are but a few of the questions, themes and ideas explored in Qui Nguyen’s amazingly entertaining, provocatively thoughtful love story/road trip that often feels more like a living graphic novel than what we’ve come to expect from theater. But that’s exactly the point. By using live theater as a catalyst to transform traditional thinking about a topic that’s at risk of falling into one-sided historical obscurity and express the importance of cultural history, aspiration, love and a sense of self in a country founded on the ideals of freedom, acceptance and diversity, this production is potentially one of the freshest and most exciting examples of new theater you’re likely to see. Mixing comedy, drama, music, martial arts, visual effects and an array of other theatrical tropes, Vietgone pulls every element of theater together (and then some), allowing the uniformly outstanding cast, under May Adrales’s thrilling and inventive direction, to show us the face, direction and relevant immediacy of contemporary theater in America today. Don’t miss it!

 

Roe

star rating
Roe
April 20 - October 29, 2016
Angus Bowmer Theatre
by Lisa Loomer | Directed by Bill Rauch | World Premiere | Co-produced with Arena Stage and Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Leading a strong ensemble cast, Sara Bruner and Sarah Jane Agnew portray two key players whose lives are irrevocably impacted and changed by an historic Supreme Court ruling of which most, if not all of us are familiar. Lisa Loomer’s brilliant writing goes beyond this, however, to examine just how much many of us don’t know or understand about these two individuals, the ruling, itself, the continuing struggle to clarify and enforce the rights addressed/upheld by the ruling, and the impact on those individuals whose constitutional rights are being obstructed as a result of the ruling. Presented on a spare, platform stage and episodic in nature, Bill Rauch’s keen direction mobilizes the production into a state of concise historic clarity, illuminating a controversial period in our recent history and how history, itself, can obscure the truth. As entertaining as it is informative and well-balanced, OSF’s American Revolutions cycle has, once again, delivered a play that’s timely, provocative, educational and essential to our understanding of how key points in history have shaped this country.