Mythic characters expose the follies of love and war— William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida opens at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            Contact: Tina Slak, 610.282.WILL [9455]
July 19, 2017                                                  Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org

Center Valley, PA—Heroes, kings, lovers, and clowns expose the follies of war with sardonic insight and cynical wit in William Shakespeare’s Troilus & Cressida. The satirical, farcical, and sometimes tragic comedy previews at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival July 26 and 27, opens on July 28 and runs through August 6 in the Schubert Theatre located in the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

The approach to the production is the Festival’s highly anticipated and popular “Extreme Shakespeare”— rehearsed and performed akin to the way Shakespeare’s actors would have: actors arrive with their lines learned, wear what they can find, stage the play, and open in a matter of days, bringing the audience one step closer to the excitement and spontaneity experienced in an Elizabethan playhouse.  No director, no designers, as these positions didn’t exist in Shakespeare’s time.
The lovers Troilus and Cressida (Brandon J. Pierce and Mairin Lee, respectively) come face to face with stark realities after a years-too-long military conflict.

Troy has been under siege for seven years, incited when Paris of Troy (Jacob Dresch) abducts Helen (Ally Borgstrom). The war rages on when the Trojans reject the Greek’s peace offering: return Helen and the war will end. Important decisions loom as Greek leaders Agamemnon (Lindsay Smiling), Ulysses (Greg Wood), and Nestor (Eric Hissom) attempt to coerce Achilles (Justin Adams) to fight the valiant Trojan, Hector (Luigi Sottile) after receiving a challenge from the Trojan leader Aeneas (Anthony Lawton). Tempers run high in both camps as the war continues with no foreseeable end.

The infrequently produced play also stars Susan Riley Stevens in several roles including the acid-tongued comedic fool Thersites, and the Trojan Calchas who defects to the Greeks. Additional humor is generated as Carl Wallnau plays Pandarus, Cressida’s kindly meddling uncle who persuades the lovers to vow their undying love for each other.
Maggie Davis is the production stage manager.

Performances are in the intimate Schubert Theatre:

Wednesday, July 26, preview          8PM
Thursday, July 27, preview              8PM
Friday, July 28, opening                  8PM
Saturday, July 29 & August 5          2PM and 8PM
Sunday, July 30 & August 6            2PM and 7:30PM
Tuesday, August 1                           7PM
Wednesday, August 2                      8PM
Thursday, August 3                          8PM
Friday, August 4                               8PM

Single tickets start at $25; youth, senior citizen, military, and group discounts are available.

David B. Rothrock and Patrina L. Rothrock are the 2017 season sponsors. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.  The production sponsor is Amaranth Foundation.
Beginning 45 minutes before each performance, PSF artist Dan Hodge will host pre-show “Prologues,” to summarize and discuss Troilus & Cressida for those interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s work.

Savoring Shakespeare: specialty dining themed to the play with behind-the-scenes insights on Sunday, July 30, 11:00am brunch (in combination with As You Like It); and Friday, August 4, 5pm dinner. Tickets are $38 and include full bar.

Immediately following the 2PM performance on Sunday, July 30 there will be a roundtable discussion, Contemporary Context, which will allow patrons the chance to examine the social undercurrents of the Bard’s Trojan War tale through different generations, connecting Shakespeare’s time to today. 

The Festival’s 26th season also includes: The Ice Princess (Now thru August 5); The Three Musketeers and As You Like It in repertory (Now thru August 6); and Shakespeare for Kids (July 26-August 5).

There will also be a one-night only concert with Broadway star Dee Roscioli, who starred as Eva Perón in the Festival’s lauded and completely sold-out production of Evita, on Monday, July 31 at 7:30PM. Join us for an eclectic evening of Broadway, pop hits, and new original work, on the Main Stage. Tickets are $38.

PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for 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 tickets, contact PSF at 610-282-WILL[9445], ext. 1, or www.pashakespeare.org.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director) 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 St. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for OffBroadway 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 Julius Caesar (2016), 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

Principal Artist Bios

JUSTIN ADAMS* (Achilles) New York: Don Juan (title role), The Pearl Theatre; The Little Shubert; The Acting Company; Drama League's DirectorFest; HERE Studios; 13th Street Rep; Storm Theatre.  Regional:  Nicholas Nickleby, Parts 1 and 2 (title role), PlayMakers Rep; Amadeus (title role), Northern Stage; Hamlet (title role), PSF; Westport Country Playhouse; Cincinnati Playhouse; Alliance Theatre; Denver Center; Folger Theatre; Portland Stage; Clarence Brown Theatre; Florida Studio Theatre; Alabama and Texas Shakespeare Festivals; Vineyard Arts Project.  Film/TV: Elementary; Unforgettable; Blue Bloods; The Cask; Independence: Beyond What She Expects; Radio Cape Cod. Training:  The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  

ALLY BORGSTROM (Helen) is a recent graduate of DeSales University. ACT I credits: Little Women (Jo), Me and My Girl (Jacqueline) and Young Frankenstein (Inga).

MAGGIE DAVIS* (Schubert Stage Manager) Second season with PSF. Stage and production management credits include: Yours, Anne, among other productions (Half Moon Theatre); Seven seasons with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, including A Midsummer Night's Dream (with The Pearl Theatre Company); 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); Measure for Measure (Fiasco/New Victory Theater).

JACOB DRESCH* (Paris) Most recently starred in PSF’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Graduate of DeSales University. Other PSF: Julius Caesar, The Foreigner, and Lend Me a Tenor. Off-Broadway:  The School for Scandal, The Way of the World (Red Bull Theater). Acting Instructor at the New York Film Academy. MFA, U.C. Irvine.

ERIC HISSOM* (Nestor, Priam) Eric 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, Taming of the Shrew, and King John. Recent credits include: Timon of Athens at the Folger, Born Yesterday and The Great Society at Asolo Rep, The Body of an American at Theater J in Washington D.C., Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Arena Stage, Equivocation at the Arden, and the National Tour of The 39 Steps. He has an MFA from Florida State University’s Asolo Conservatory.

ANTHONY LAWTON* (Aeneas) has acted in Philadelphia for twenty-five years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut St.); 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

MAIRIN LEE* (Cressida) PSF: Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and Ophelia in Hamlet. Broadway: The Heiress. Off-Broadway: She Stoops to Conquer (The Actors Company Theater), Romance Language (Ars Nova), Romeo and Juliet (Wheelhouse Theatre), The Winter's Tale and Measure for Measure (NY Classical). Regional: American Conservatory Theater, McCarter, Two River, Wilma, St. Louis Rep, Premiere Stages, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Marin Theatre Company, and Shotgun Players. TV: The Good Wife, Elementary. Film: Marcy, Mortem Di Virgo. MFA from A.C.T.

BRANDON J. PIERCE* (Troilus): Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy (Primary Stages). Regional: The Taming of the Shrew (PSF); Exit Strategy (Philadelphia Theatre Company); A Midsummer Night's Dream, Metamorphoses, Charlotte’s Web (Arden); The City of Conversation (Delaware Theater 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). Training: BFA University of the Arts.

LINDSAY SMILING* (Agamemnon)Recent credits include How to Use a Knife (Interact), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Arden), When the Rain Stops Falling (Wilma), and Red Velvet (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ). Lindsay earned his MFA from Temple University, is a member of the Wilma HotHouse, and has worked at over 20 different national theaters across the country.

Luigi Sottile (Hector) Last seen at PSF in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Other recent credits include: Shakespeare In Love, Othello, Tempest (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); Much Ado About Nothing, Three Musketeers (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Zombie: The American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex With Strangers (Signature-DC); The Cherry Orchard, Nathan The Wise (People's Light); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden); Angels in America, The Vibrator Play (Wilma); An Ideal Husband (Walnut St.); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Company); The Hothouse, The Lonesome West (Lantern).

SUSAN RILEY STEVENS* (Prologue, Calchas, Thersites) Past seasons: Macbeth, Hamlet, Henry VIII, and Othello. Recent credits: Happy Birthday (1812 Productions), The Gift (Walnut St), Marcus/Emma (InterAct), A New Brain (Theatre Horizon), God of Carnage  (Peterborough Players), White Guy On The Bus (Passage Theatre). Other 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.

CARL N WALLNAU* (Pandarus) PSF past productions: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Cyrano De Bergerac, Amadeus, The Tempest, and A Funny Thing…Forum. Selected Regional Theatre: Paper Mill Playhouse, Second Stage in NYC, York Musical Theatre in NYC, and Hartford Stage. He is currently Artistic Director of the Centenary Stage Company, an equity theatre located on the campus of Centenary College. MFA from Rutgers University. He is married to his favorite actress Colleen Smith Wallnau.

GREG WOOD* (Ulysses) A PSF veteran actor who recently starred in The Hound of the Baskervilles as Sherlock Holmes (and others). Recent credits: Happy Birthday (1812 Productions), directing The Gift (Walnut St.) , Stupid F*%king Bird (Arden), playing Scrooge in McCarter Theatre’s new production of A Christmas Carol, and Barrymore nominations for The Nether and White Guy On The Bus.

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