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Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 Season

Celebrating 80 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. 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 2015 Season’s plays.

Much Ado about Nothing 

Feb 20 - Nov 1, 2015
Angus Bowmer Theatre        
By William Shakespeare
 
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz                      

At first glance, OSF’s 2015 Season opener is, albeit sparse, both beautiful and striking. However, once the house lights go down, one quickly finds this production lacking in both the joy and chemistry essential to its success as one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. The acting offers a mixed bag, ranging from the satisfyingly enjoyable Benedick (Danforth Comins) to a nearly unendurable Claudio (Carlo Albán). But more at fault, in this viewer’s eyes, is a production that’s unfocused and relies too heavily on physical comedy, divisiveness and the jarring intrusion of (mostly) unsuitable music. As the run progresses, there’s little doubt the play will tighten, “rough spots” will smooth out, and the actors will find the chemistry only hinted at in preview. Then, too, might this production find some of the play’s joy that’s currently missing.

 

Guys and Dolls A Musical Fable of Broadway

 
February 22 - November 1, 2015
Angus Bowmer Theatre        
Based on a Story and Characters of Damon Runyon | Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser; Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
 
Directed by Mary Zimmerman                         

Although somewhat spartan in its staging, the overriding visual suggestion of this production is one of thumbing through a few well-loved postcards from a forgotten and mythic period of New York City. The cast is solid throughout, but it’s Robin Goodrin Nordli (Miss Adelaide) and Rodney Gardiner (Nathan Detroit) who steal the show. The re-orchestrated score could use a few more strings and the Cuban segment might trade out a few beachballs for more palm trees, but all in all, OSF’s take on this classic of American Musical Theater makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Fingersmith

February 21 - July 9, 2015
Angus Bowmer Theatre
By Alexa Junge | Based on the novel by Sarah Waters | World Premiere
 
Directed by Bill Rauch                  

Beautifully staged and impeccably acted, this production of Sarah Waters well-known novel evokes both Dickens and Poe – only with lesbians. Sarah Bruner (Sue Trinder) continues to be a revelation on the OSF stage, while Erica Sullivan (Maud Lilly), in turn, inspires pity, compassion, shock, distaste, sadness and, ultimately, admiration from the audience. Likewise, the entire cast – like the entire production – has stepped up its game and will surely make this one of the highlights to be remembered from OSF’s 80th Season.

 

Pericles

February 26 - November 1, 2015
Thomas Theatre
By William Shakespeare
 
Directed by Joseph Haj
 
OSF hits this one out of the park and into the next county with this amazing, magical and mythic production of one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays. Offering potentially tragic situations, adequately sprinkled with comedic elements, the play poetically creates a tale of the journey to redemption and reunion (a common theme in Shakespeare’s Romance plays), and this season’s offering inspires, amuses and touches the heart in equal measure. From its impressive illusory staging and effectively enhancing lighting/sound, to its beautifully realized score and incomparable cast, every element of theater seamlessly integrates, making this production one that should definitely not be missed. 
 

Long Day's Journey into Night

 
March 25 - October 31, 2015
Thomas Theatre
By Eugene O'Neill
 
Directed by Christopher Liam Moore
 
This play is definitely not recommended for those of you suffering from severe depression. However, if you’re the kind of person who appreciates watching a good train wreck and family disfunction (mixed liberally with alcohol, drugs and just a teensy bit of tactically manipulative slaughter), then this year’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s semi-biographical masterpiece is just what the doctor ordered. Leading a remarkable cast, Judith-Marie Bergan once again proves herself to be an incomparable acting phenomenon – completely transforming herself into the mesmerizing, pitiful and cloyingly repulsive Mary Tyrone. Under Christopher Liam Moore’s deft direction and a design team that clearly understands what it takes to breathe new life into an oft-done American classic, this production might not provide the most enjoyable theatrical experience one can have, but it will certainly be one that’s remembered for a long time to come.

Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

April 15 - October 31, 2015
Angus Bowmer Theatre
By Stan Lai | U.S. Premiere
Directed by Stan Lai

A production of a play that, itself, provides a view of rehearsing a contemporary play dealing with foreign cultural issues, while simultaneously presenting a rehearsal for an ancient, much-loved Chinese fable which has also been adapted into a play can, to say the least, present an audience with challenges. Without appropriate preparation (e.g., some understanding of the separation of Taiwan from the Chinese state in 1948), one can leave the theater scratching one’s head, pondering what the hidden metaphors might be and, in general, wondering what the whole damn thing was about. Although well-acted by a strong cast of OSF’s finest mixed with some new, exciting talent, this production falls short in that most of the audience may just not be able to fully relate to (or understand) the underlying message this play is offering (...and, although this writer might not be the brightest bulb on the block, could someone please tell me what the Mysterious Woman is all about!).

 

Antony and Cleopatra

June 2 - October 9, 2015
Allen Elizabethan Theatre
By William Shakespeare 
 
Directed by Bill Rauch
 
Look for review of this play shortly after the opening performance.

 

 
Look for review of this play shortly after the opening performance.

 

 
Look for review of this play shortly after the opening performance.

 

 

 
Look for review of this play shortly after the opening performance.

 

 
Look for review of this play shortly after the opening performance.