Veteran Actors Go to the “Extreme” in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s All’s Well That Ends Well

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tina Slak • 610.282.WILL, ext. 4
tina.slak@pashakespeare.org

July 18, 2018

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents William Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well, with previews on July 25 and 26, and opening on Friday, July 27 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

All’s Well That Ends Well will continue the Festival’s tradition of concluding the season with “Extreme Shakespeare.” These productions are rehearsed akin to the way we believe Shakespeare’s company would have: the actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse and stage the play on their own, wear what they can find, and without a director or designers, the cast collaborates over four fast-paced days and opens for an audience later that week.

In the Extreme Shakespeare production, or colloquially “hit and run,” the cast will present their own take on some of Shakespeare’s most compelling work while running on pure adrenaline, spontaneity, and their own creativity.

PSF veteran actor Greg Wood returns to the “extreme” stage as the King of France, following his recent role as Malvolio in PSF’s Twelfth Night. “I love the ‘Extreme Shakespeare’ process. You can’t fall back on default acting tricks,” says, Wood. “You have to depend on the people on stage with you. Anything could happen at any time. And it does! It’s incredibly exciting as an actor. And the audience feels that as well. There’s a real electricity in the theatre.”

The plot of All’s Well That Ends Well follows the lovely Helena, played by Emiley Kiser, who having restored the King’s health, asks for nothing in return but to wed her heart’s love, Count Bertram, played by Spencer Plachy. The Count arrogantly refuses to marry beneath his class and flees both king and bride for the nearest war. Among the palaces of France and Florence, Shakespeare’s charming heroine must use her wits and courage to win Bertram’s admiration and love in this spirited comedy.

All’s Well blends the comedy and drama of love affairs and class conflicts with nuanced humanity touched by a fairy tale flair,” says, Megan Diehl, dramaturg and the Festival’s advancement and communications manager. “Shakespeare abandons the promise of neatly classified heroes and villains, and rather attempts to reconcile those traits twisted within us of both good and evil as he writes, ‘The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together’.

With a heartfelt and nuanced story accompanied by some of Shakespeare’s classic clowns, the story ends “well” as the old adage insists, but with a bit of a question mark. All’s Well inhabits an exciting corner of Shakespeare’s canon by mixing poignancy and passion, and allowing us to examine the tangled natures that exist in all of us.”

In addition to PSF veterans Wood, Kiser, and Plachy , other Festival veterans in the cast include Steven Dennis in multiple roles, Jim Helsinger as Parolles, Eric Hissom as Lavatch, Anthony Lawton as Lafew and Susan Riley Stevens as the Countess of Rossillion.

Rounding out the cast are Anelise Diaz, Andrew Goebel, Stephanie Hodge, Amy Rose Johnson, Ethan Larsen, Jahzeer Terrell and Jhalil Younger.

Maggie Davis is the production stage manager and Esti Bertstein is the assistant stage manager. The Production Sponsor is Amy Miller Cohen, Ph.D.

All’s Well That Ends Well single tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th season also features the stage adaptation of Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s highly acclaimed Academy Award-winning screenplay Shakespeare in Love playing in repertory with William Shakespeare’s epic King Richard II.

Now through August 4, children’s programming continues in the Schubert Theatre with Alice in Wonderland and, celebrating its ten-year anniversary, PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids: a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. Presented on the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

For one night only, Dan Domenech returns to PSF after a successful run in last summer’s hit Evita. Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond is a showcase of songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theater fame on Monday, July 30 at 7:30pm.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, The Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

The season will run to August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Single tickets and subscription packages can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 15,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.

ACTOR BIOS:

STEVEN DENNIS* (Rynaldo, Duke of Florence, Gentleman) New York: The Girl of The Golden West (Soho Rep) and A Most Secret War (Harold Clurman Theatre); Regional: Hartford Stage Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, and Philadelphia Theatre Company. He was named Best Dramatic Actor by The NJ Daily Record for Underneath The Lintel at Centenary Stage Company. He’s performed with PSF in Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and As You Like It. An LA Weekly Award winner, his television and film work includes guest-star roles on Star Trek: Enterprise, The Young & the Restless, Profiler, Miracles, and a recurring role on Star Trek: Voyager; he also appears in the Blu-ray edition of Split, M. Night Shyamalan’s 2017 film. Steven holds an MFA in Theater from Rutgers University, and currently serves as associate professor at DeSales University and artistic associate with PSF.

ANELISE DIAZ (Mariana, Ensemble, u/s Countess) Her previous credits at the festival include: The Little Mermaid and The Taming of the Shrew. She will be finishing her degree here at DeSales University this fall and is excited to pursue a career in acting/ teaching.

JIM HELSINGER* (Parolles) PSF Acting: Lady Bracknell, Master Ford, Don Armado, Bassanio, Malvolio, Arnolphe, Dogberry, Bottom. Other regional: title roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, Dracula, and Henry V.TV/Film: From the Earth to the Moon, Mortal Kombat, Noah Knows Best, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle. Directing at PSF: The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Foreigner, Lend Me a Tenor, The Tempest, Sleuth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more.Playwright at PSF: Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker. Artistic Director at Orlando Shakespeare Theater in partnership with UCF. 

ERIC HISSOM* (Lavatch) has appeared at PSF in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, A Man for All Seasons, The Tempest, Around the World in Eighty Days, Pericles, The Taming of the Shrew, King John, and Troilus and Cressida. Recent regional credits: The Winter’s Tale at the Folger, Born Yesterday and The Great Society at Asolo Rep, Equivocation at the Arden, Everything is Illuminated at Theater J and The Effect at Studio Theater both in Washington D.C., and the National Tour of The 39 Steps. He has an MFA from Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory.

STEPHANIE HODGE (Ensemble, u/s Helena) PSF: The Three Musketeers, The Ice Princess, Rapunzel. Her directorial debut Beauty and the Beast ran this past spring in the Schubert Theatre.

AMY ROSE JOHNSON (Ensemble, u/s Diana) Some of her favorite credits include Into the Woods (The Witch), Godspell (“Bless the Lord”), and Heathers (Veronica).

EMILEY KISER* this is her sixth season at the festival. PSF: Pericles, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry VIII, Pride and Prejudice. Recent Credits: The Winter's Tale (New York Classical Theatre), Our Town (Palm Beach Dramaworks), Romeo and Juliet (Quintessence Theatre Group), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Quintessence Theatre Group). She graduated from The People’s Improv Theater training program this year and has her B.A. from DeSales University.

ETHAN LARSEN (1st Soldier, Ensemble, u/s Bertram) is a recent grad of DeSales University whose previous Act 1 credits include the Steward (Into the Woods), William Smith (Murder on the Nile), and Judge Hathorne (The Crucible).

ANTHONY LAWTON* (Lafew) has acted in Philadelphia for twenty-six years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut), Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden), and Feste in Twelfth Night (PSF). In 2005, Lawton wrote The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play). Film: Silver Linings Playbook, Unbreakable, Invincible; TV: Hack, Cold Case. He performs solo productions of The Devil and Billy Markham, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.

SPENCER PLACHY* (Bertram) PSF: Antony in JULIUS CAESAR, Jefferson in 1776, Christian in CYRANO DE BERGERAC, Freddy in MY FAIR LADY… LOVES LABOURS LOST, PERICLES, AMADEUS, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, TWO NOBLE KINSMEN…. (I think that’s it). Broadway: ROMEO & JULIET, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD. Off-Broadway: THE COMMON PURSUIT. Tours: OKLAHOMA! (Curly), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Regional: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (Alley Theatre), PRIVATE LIVES (Riverside Theatre), NATIONAL PASTIME (Bucks County Playhouse), and THE 39 STEPS (Orlando Shakespeare Theater/Florida Rep). TV: Shades of Blue (NBC).

SUSAN RILEY STEVENS* (Countess of Rossillion, Widow) Past seasons have included: Macbeth, Hamlet, and Lend Me A Tenor; Recent credits: Noises Off (Walnut Street Theatre), This Is The Week That Is (1812 Productions), Marcus/Emma (InterAct), A New Brain (Theatre Horizon); Regional: People’s Light, Bristol Riverside, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dallas Theatre Center, Portland Stage Company, and Asolo Repertory Theatre. M.F.A.: Yale School of Drama.

JAHZEER TERRELL (1st Lord Dumaine) is a Philadelphia based actor, teaching artist, voiceover artist, and musician. He has been a part of numerous productions in and around the Philadelphia area.

GREG WOOD* (King of France) This past Fall, he was at Actors Theatre Louisville to play Van Helsing in their production of Dracula. In December he was at McCarter Theatre in Princeton for his second season as Scrooge in  A Christmas Carol. He just finished back to back productions at the Walnut St. Theatre in Philly:  Eric in The Humans, followed by Lloyd in Noises Off.

JHALIL YOUNGER (2nd Soldier, Ensemble, Lord Dumaine 2) is a junior acting and directing major staring down a summer of firsts. He couldn’t be more excited to work with PSF for the first time, taking on his first Shakespeare show while making his professional theatre debut.

CREATIVE TEAM BIOS:

PATRICK MULCAHY (Director, Shake in Love; Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a 75% increase in annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage.  He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

MAGGIE DAVIS* (Production Stage Manager) Her stage and production management credits include Julius Caesar; The Wild Duck (Quintessence Theatre Group); Yours, Anne, among many others (Half Moon Theatre); seven seasons with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Christmas Rappings (Judson Memorial Church); Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Florida/Texas Tour); Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Tribes, and Hit the Wall (Barrow Street Theatre); Emotional Creature (Signature Center); Becoming Dr. Ruth (Westside Theatre); Measure for Measure (Fiasco/New Victory Theater).

ESTI BERNSTEIN* (Assistant Stage Manager) is a NYC-based Stage Manager and Production Manager. Recent Off-Broadway credits: The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard Theatre), Party Face (MTC Stage II), The Stone Witch (Westside Theater), and Later Life (Keen Company). She is also Resident Stage Manager for Broken Box Mime Theater and was on staff at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival summers 2011—2015.

*Member of Actor’s Equity association