Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew: The legendary “Battle of the Sexes” takes the stage at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Lisa Higgins • 610.282.WILL, ext. 4
Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

June 29, 2016

Center Valley, PA – Both a popular comedy and the iconic dramatization of the battle of the sexes, The Taming of the Shrew continues the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 25th anniversary season on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.  

Directed by Matt Pfeiffer, The Taming of the Shrew previews July 13 and 14, opens July 15 and continues through August 7 in repertory with the high-spirited comedy by Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit. The production is sponsored by DeSales University, in memory of Fr. Gerard J. Schubert, OSFS, and the co-sponsors are David B. and Patrina L. Rothrock.
The Taming of the Shrew opened PSF’s inaugural 1992 season and was directed by Festival founder Fr. Gerard J. Schubert, OSFS. “Including Shrew in our 25th anniversary season is a way to honor our founder and the first production of the first season,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director.

            Baptista Minola, a wealthy merchant played by award-winning stage, screen and television actress Linda Thorson, hopes to marry off her two daughters, Katherina and Bianca. Katherina, played by PSF veteran Eleanor Handley, has a temper and is loathe to curb her witty tongue so that any man could court her. Bianca, played by Ally Borgstrom, on the other hand, appears to be a sweet and submissive lady with many admirers. Baptista declares that Bianca’s dreams of love cannot be fulfilled until her elder sister is wed.

The bold and adventurous Petruchio leaps at the challenge—and the two struggle for supremacy.

            Petruchio is played by Ian Merrill Peakes who returns to the PSF stage for his 10th season since his debut in 1996.  He has been awarded three Barrymores, four Helen Hayes Awards, and is the winner of the 2003 F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artist. Mr. Peakes can also be seen in the leading role of Charles Condomine in PSF’s Blithe Spirit.

            The cast includes Brandon Pierce as Lucentio, Bianca’s suitor who disguises himself as a poetry tutor, and Dan Hodge as his friend and manservant Tranio. PSF Veteran Carl N. Wallnau and Alex J. Bechtel join the party as the wild duo Gremio and Hortensio, respectively, who urge Petruchio to pursue Katherina so that they can have a chance at the lovely Bianca. Rounding out the cast is Eric Hissom as Grumio, Karen Peakes as the Widow, and Joyce Cohen as the Pedant.

            Gina Lamparella serves as associate director for the production. David P. Gordon returns as the Set Designer. Costume design is by Olivera Gajic, who also designed this season’s production of The Little Mermaid. Lighting design is by Thom Weaver and Alex J. Bechtel serves as composer, sound designer and music director. Dale Anthony Girard is fight director and choreographer. Alison Hassman and Carolyn Reich serve as production stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively.

Prior to every performance of every Shakespeare play, PSF offers a free “prologue” for audiences to learn about the play in an informal setting led by a PSF staff member. Each prologue begins 45 minutes before curtain in the theatre.

The Taming of the Shrew previews July 13 and 14, opens July 15, and continues through August 7 in repertory with Blithe Spirit. Performances are:

Wednesday, July 13, preview, 8pm
Thursday, July 14, preview, 8pm
Friday, July 15, opening, 8pm
Tuesday, July 19 & Aug. 2, 7pm
Wednesday, July 20 & 27, 8pm
Sunday, July 24 & 31, 2pm
Friday, July 29, 8pm
Saturday, July 30, 2pm
Thursday, Aug. 4, 8pm
Saturday, Aug. 6, 8pm
Sunday, Aug. 7, 7:30pm

Single ticket prices ranges from $25 to $75, depending on date; youth prices are available.

 “Savoring Shakespeare,” specialty dinners themed to the play with behind-the-scenes insights, are available: Friday, July 29; Saturday, August 6th, and Sunday, August 7th. All dinners begin at 5:00pm.

The Festival’s 25th season also includes: The Little Mermaid (June 3- August 6); West Side Story (June 15-July 3), Julius Caesar (June 22-Juy 17); Blithe Spirit (July 21-Aug 7); Love’s Labor’s Lost (July 27-August 7); and Shakespeare for Kids (July 27-Aug 6).

One night events include the return of actor and world-renowned tenor Mike Eldred, who played Valjean in last season’s Les Misérables, with pianist Jeff Steinberg for Songs of Life and Love, amedley of Broadway’s best songs on Monday, August 1st at 7:30pm on the Main Stage.

Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan are serving as season sponsors for the third time in the Festival’s 25-year history. Associate season sponsors are the Harry C. Trexler Trust, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Dr. James and Penny Pantano and the Szarko Family. The season media sponsor is The Morning Call.

PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

For ticket information, contact PSF at 610-282-WILL [9455], ext. 1, or online at www.pashakespeare.org.

Media representatives:  Please contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455] or Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

Principal Bios

Matt Pfeiffer (Director) is a Philly born actor and director who serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Theatre Exile. Matt has directed and/or appeared in over 30 productions in his 17 seasons at PSF. Some highlights include directing recent productions of Henry V, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The 39 Steps. Recent directing credits include the world premieres of Funnyman (Arden Theatre) and To the Moon (1812 Productions). Other credits: Two River Theatre, Walnut St. Theatre, Delaware Theatre Co, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Interact Theatre, Lantern Theatre, The Gulfshore Playhouse, UArts and DeSales University.  Matt is an eleven-time Barrymore nominee and winner, for his direction of The Whale (Theatre Exile). He's also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award.

David P. Gordon (Set Designer) designed Oklahoma! for PSF in 2013. He has designed almost 300 productions, worked extensively on and Off-Broadway and for opera companies and regional theatres in this country and abroad. Recent work includes designs for the Public Theater/NYSF, CSC, Theatre for a New Audience, Hartford Stage, Old Globe, Long Wharf, Huntington, McCarter, Goodspeed, Williamstown, Chicago Shakespeare, Arden, Wilma, Walnut St., Philadelphia Theatre Co., Kennedy Center, Westport Playhouse, Lincoln Center, L.A. Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Arizona, Berkshire and Sarasota Operas, and the State New Experimental Theatre in Volgograd, Russia. David has received five Barrymore Awards and the 2003 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Scenic Design, and has been nominated for IRNE, Carbonel and CT Critics Circle awards. He is a professor of set design at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Olivera Gajic (Costume Designer) Theater: Salzburg Festival, Austria; Vineyard Theatre; Juilliard School; Pig Iron; CSC; Lake Lucille; Talking Band, Two River; Arden; Trinity Rep and many other regional theaters. Other: US National Exhibit at the 2004; 2007 Prague Quadrennial. 2004 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers, 2010 IT Award for Outstanding Costume Design, 2011 TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, 2012 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Costume Design, and 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design. USA local 829.

Thom Weaver (Lighting Designer) 8th season with PSF. Philadelphia area design credits include: Wilma, Arden, 1812, Azuka, People’s Light, DTC, Headlong, Walnut, PTC, Theatre Exile, Curtis Opera, Kimmel Center, Lantern.  Other theatre: Public Theatre/NYSF, Chicago Shakespeare, Primary Stages, Huntington, Teller’s Play Dead, Cal Shakes, Children’s Theatre Company, Milwaukee Rep, CenterStage, Folger Theater, Hangar, Cincinnati Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Theatre J, Portland Center Stage, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Signature Theater Company, Berkshire Opera, Lincoln Center Institute, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Yale Rep. Awards: 3 Barrymores (21 nominations), 4 Helen Hayes nominations, and t2 AUDELCO Awards.  He is a member of Wingspace Design Group. Education: Carnegie Mellon and Yale.  

Alison Hassman (Production Stage Manager) PSF productions #9 and #10.  Off-Broadway: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Phoenix (w. Julia Stiles), Los Monólogos de la Vagina, Catch the Butcher, The Brightness of Heaven.  Regional: Bristol Riverside, Two River, McCarter, Premiere Stages, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Trinity Rep. New York: New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Cherry Lane, 595E59, the York, 24 Hour Play Company.  Upcoming: A New Brain at Theatre Horizon. 

Alex J. Bechtel (Hortensio/Composer/Sound Designer/Music Director) is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist. As an actor, composer, sound designer, writer, and director, Bechtel’s work has appeared on the stages of most Philadelphia theatre companies. He is a graduate of The Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training (Graduate of the Inaugural Class, 2013) and The University of the Arts (BFA 2008), where he now teaches Freshman Acting Studio. PSF credits: Thurio/Music: Two Gents (2014), and Music/Sound Design: Henry V (2015).

Ally Borgstrom (Bianca, Shrew; Edith, Blithe) joins PSF for a second season as a member of the Young Company. Last year, she was in the ensemble of Les Misérables and played the Daughter in Pericles. Act 1 credits include Little Women (Jo), Me and My Girl (Jacqueline), and Bus Stop (Cherie).

Joyce Cohen (Pedant, Shrew; Mrs. Bradman, Blithe) Broadway: Once A Catholic. Off-Broadway: Mint Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Westside Arts. Regional: Pioneer Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Salt Lake Acting Co., Peterborough Players, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Film/TV includes: Christmas Under Wraps, Granite Flats (recurring), SLC Punk, Independence Day, High School Musical, Read It and Weep, Touched by an Angel, Unabomber-The True Story. Sundance Institute Film & Theatre Labs, Cleveland Playhouse New Ground Theatre Festival, Colorado New Play Summit.

Handley (Katherina, Shrew; Elvira, Blithe) PSF: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Maggie), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Lend Me a Tenor (Diana), Macbeth (Witch), Comedy of Errors (Adriana), The Two Noble Kinsmen (Emilia). NYC: Jericho (NYT Critic's pick), Limonade tous les Jours (opposite Austin Pendleton), A Christmas Carol (with Dominic Chianese). Regional highlights: Troilus & Cressida (Cressida), King Lear (Regan), Lost in Yonkers (Bella) - Barrymore Nomination, Betrayal (Emma). TV: Royal Pains (USA), As the World Turns, Unforgettable (CBS). MFA.

Dan Hodge (Tranio) PSF credits: Henry V, Measure for Measure, King Lear and The Winter’s Tale. Regionally, Dan has worked with the Walnut Street, Arden, Wilma, InterAct, and Theatre Exile, among others.  He is a cofounder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective where he created his one-man show The Rape of Lucrece, seen here last season. Dan holds his MFA in Acting from the USD/Old Globe, San Diego.

Ian Merrill Peakes (Petruchio, Shrew; Charles, Blithe) 10th PSF production (Much Ado, Othello, Henry IV, among others). Delighted to be back where he met his wife 20 years ago. Upcoming: Charles III at ACT in San Francisco, Seattle Rep, and The Shakespeare Theatre in DC. Two Best of Denver Awards, and nominated for six Barrymores (won 3), four Helen Hayes Awards, and the winner of the 2003 F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artist. Proud to be a Philadelphia actor.

Karen Peakes (Nathaniel/Tailor/Widow, Shrew; Ruth, Blithe) is returning to PSF for the first time since 1997, when she was a member of the intern company! A graduate of DeSales (back when it was Allentown College), she has performed at many Philadelphia area theaters, including The Arden, The Walnut, Delaware Theatre Company, The Wilma,
Act II Playhouse, People’s Light, 1812 Productions, Interact, Bristol Riverside Theatre, and others. She has also frequently performed with The Peterborough Players (in New Hampshire), and The Folger (in D.C.). Karen also narrates audio books through Brilliance Audio and her books can be found on audible.com.

Brandon J. Pierce (Lucentio) Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy (Primary Stages) Regional: Exit Strategy (Philadelphia Theatre Company); Metamorphoses, Charlotte’s Web (Arden Theatre Company); Hands Up (Flashpoint Theatre Company); Dutch Masters (Azuka Theatre); Milk Like Sugar (Simpatico Theatre Project); Sunjata Kamalenya (Experiential Theatre Company); Fair Maid of the West (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective); Romeo and Juliet, Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV (Shakespeare in Clark Park); Macbeth (Revolution Shakespeare) Training: BFA University of the Arts.

Linda Thorson (Baptista Minola, Shrew; Mdme. Arcati, Blithe) Broadway: Noises Off (Drama Desk Award), Steaming (Theatre World Award), City of Angels, Zoya’s Apartment, ‘Getting Married and Exit/Entrance, August: Osage County and Other Desert Cities. National tours: Shirley Valentine and The Sisters Rosensweig. Guthrie: Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and Amy’s View. London’s West End: original cast of No Sex Please, We’re British, Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife and Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the New Shakespeare Company. TV: Tara King in the now-cult British series The Avengers. BBC: The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Oresteia and Prime Suspect. Marblehead Manor (NBC), Emily of New Moon, One Life to Live and Emmerdale. Star Trek, Law and Order, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue. Film: The Other Sister for Garry Marshall, Half Past Dead starring with Steven Seagal, The Man on the Train as Donald Sutherland’s sister, Sweet Liberty as the wife of Michael Caine and Valentino with Rudolph Nureyev. Upcoming: The Second Times Around; The Greatest Christmas Party Ever (Hallmark), the series Transporter, and Two Wrongs and Committed (Lifetime). Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. BAFTA award: The Avengers. France: Le Prix Triumph for The Avengers and the Ange D’or.

Carl N. Wallnau (Gremio, Shrew; Dr. Bradman, Blithe) PSF roles include Froggy in last season’s The Foreigner, Saunders in Lend Me A Tenor, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Andrew Wyke in Sleuth, Senex in …Forum and Sir Francis in Charlie’s Aunt.  Recent credits include the title role in the world premiere of Funnyman by Bruce Graham at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia directed by Matt Pfeiffer. Regional credits include: Paper Mill Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Second Stage in NYC, People’s Light, York Musical Theatre, 1812 Productions, The Lark Theatre, Bristol Riverside, Forum Theatre, Premiere Stages, as well as the First National Tour of Titanic. He is Artistic Director at CSC, an Equity theatre located on the campus of Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, where he is also Professor of Theatre Arts and Chairman of the Fine Arts Department. He received his MFA from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Patrick Mulcahy (Producing Artistic Director, PSF). Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the quadrupling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season.

As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University. 

Media representatives: Please contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455] or Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

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