Power and Passion Collide in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Antony and Cleopatra

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      Contact: Tina.slak@pashakespeare.org


In a world of great nations and greater longing, the quest for transcendence yields both tragedy and triumph in William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, one of history’s greatest love stories opens at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Antony and Cleopatra previews July 10 and 11, opens July 12 and runs in repertory with Noël Coward’s Private Lives through August 4 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

One fateful meeting reshapes the ancient world when Roman triumvir Marc Antony falls like Caesar before him for Cleopatra, the powerful Queen of the Nile. As civil unrest plagues Rome, this exotic and intriguing tale illuminates the collision of power and passion as empires hang in the balance. Shakespeare’s dark and intimate portrait of this storied affair features some of the most transcendent poetry on love and loss in the cannon.

Director Eleanor Holdridge notes, “With Shakespeare’s timeless insight into the political machinations of world leaders, I’d love for this production to explore our present politics and society through the lens of Shakespeare’s text. I am struck by the make-up of our current Congress versus the current Senate and the parallel to ancient Rome and Egypt.

Against this landscape of past and present, we see the mature love story of two great political leaders, striving and yearning for connection on a world stage that wants to tear them apart.”

Antony and Cleopatra will be directed by Holdridge, acclaimed director and playwright, whose Off-Broadway and regional directing credits include 24 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays, many of them multiple times, and numerous world premieres including David Grimm’s adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac at Cincinnati Playhouse and the Roundhouse Theatre’s production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Holdridge holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and is a professor at Catholic University of America, where she is head of directing, a producer, and chair of the Department of Drama.

Neal Bledsoe will play Marc Antony opposite Nondumiso Tembe as Cleopatra. Both Bledsoe and Tembe, who have extensive theatre, film, and television credits, will make their Festival debuts.

Neal Bledsoe is an award-winning actor whose television credits include Shameless, The Man in the High CastleThe Last Tycoon, The Mysteries of Laura, Smash, Ironside, Timeless, Ugly Betty, and many more. Bledsoe will be featured alongside Val Kilmer in the upcoming feature film Soldier’s Heart. On stage he starred in Michael Arden’s production of The Pride at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award Nominee), he originated the role of The Count in Stephen Wadsworth’s The Figaro Plays at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, and worked with Jeremy Irons, Joan Allen, Andre De Shields, Marsha Mason, and Jack O’Brien on Broadway in Impressionism.

Born in Durban, South Africa and raised in New York City, Nondumiso Tembe, a multi award-winning artist, is the first South African actress to obtain a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from the famed Yale School of Drama. Tembe’s regional theatre credits include the McCarter Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, and the Boston Court Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Additionally, she has performed at prestigious international festivals and venues including The Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and The Playhouse Company, Fugard Theatre, Joburg Theatre and ‪State Theatre in South Africa. Some of her television credits include recurring roles on Six, the role of Mavis in HBO’s Award-winning True Blood, and she was a series regular on Africa’s, Generations. Recent film and television credits include Lifetime’s Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the 6-part international mini-series Book of Negroes, and the upcoming romantic comedy feature film Zulu Wedding. Additionally, she has had guest starring roles on television’s NCIS, NCIS: LA and Castle.

Joining Bledsoe and Tembe in the cast is Justin Mark as the “scarce-bearded” Octavius Caesar, a shrewd and manipulative politician who stands in the way of Antony and Cleopatra’s happiness. Mark is a graduate of the Juilliard School, whose television credits include Law and Order: SVUMadame Secretary, and the recurring role of Charles Van Dahl on Gotham.

Other supporting roles include Liam Craig as Enobarbus, a trusted follower of Marc Antony. Craig’s credits include Broadway’s Boeing-Boeing and television’s Boston LegalAs the World Turns, and Law and Order: SVUTalley Gale plays Octavia, sister of Caesar, who Antony marries as part of a political scheme. Gale’s regional theatre credits include performances at The Old Globe, Steppenwolf and Oldcastle theatres; and Matthew Floyd Miller will play one of Antony’s loyal men, Eros. Miller has performed in New York at Broadway’s Lincoln Center and Circle in the Square. His TV credits include Hand of GodCriminal Minds, and Law and Order. Miller and Gale will also join the cast of Private Lives as Elyot Chase and Sybil, respectively.

Returning to the Festival in the repertory cast of Antony and Cleopatra and Private Lives, are Eleanor Handley (Agrippa/Amanda Prynne), whose PSF credits include Twelfth NightBlithe SpiritThe Taming of the Shrew and many more, and Luigi Sottile (Pompey & Thidias/Victor Prynne), who played the title role in last season’s highly lauded Shakespeare in Love. Handley has performed at Broadway’s Lincoln Center and regionally at Hudson Valley Shakespeare and Bristol Riverside Theatre. Sottile’s credits include PSF’s Troilus and Cressida (2017) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014); and performances at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Folger Theatre, Utah Shakespeare, and Walnut Street Theatre.

Joining them is Ilia Paulino (Charmian), an alumna of the DeSales University theatre program and a former member of PSF’s Young Company. Paulino is a third-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where her credits include Twelfth Night with the Yale Repertory Theater, Seven Spots On The SunThe SeagullThe Girl Is Chained, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

The repertoryfeatures scenic design by Roman Tatarowicz, costume design by Sarah Cubbage lighting design by Eric T. Haugen, and sound design by William NealJ. Alex Cardero is the fight director, Shelby North is the production stage manager, and Sean Ravitz is the assistant stage manager.

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

The Production Sponsor for Antony and Cleopatra is Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects, and the Production Co-sponsor is The Rider-Pool Foundation.

The 2019 Festival Season Sponsor is Valerie Moritz Smith. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul WirthKathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolanthe Szarko family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

The professional theatre company at DeSales University, PSF features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and other major theatre awards, from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and around the country.

Summer 2019 Season:
Main Stage: Crazy for You (June 12 to June 30), Antony and Cleopatra (July 10 to Aug 4), Private Lives (July 18 to Aug 4)Shakespeare for Kids (July 24 to Aug 3).

Schubert Theatre: The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian (May 31 to Aug 3), The Mystery of Irma Vep (June 20 to July 14), Henry IV, Part 1 (July 24 to Aug 4).

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 was 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 PostNPRAmerican Theatre Magazine, Playbill.com, 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 27 years, PSF has offered 168 total productions (72 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 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.

PATRICK MULCAHY (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 doubling of 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 TimesThe 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 TaleHenry IV, Part 1The TempestAntony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

Eleanor Holdridge (Director, Antony & Cleopatra) Off-Broadway productions include world premieres of Selma ’65 (LaMaMa), Steve & Idi (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), and Cycling Past The Matterhorn (Clurman Theatre). Regional credits include world premieres of David Grimm’s adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Meg Miroshnik’s FiCKLE: A Fancy French Farce, Lauren Gunderson’s The Revolutionists (Cincinnati Playhouse), Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Roundhouse Theatre) and I and You (Olney and Geva Theaters); Also, Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ Queens Girl in the World (Theatre J) and Darius & Twig (Kennedy Center TYA); and Zorro (Constellaton Stage), which she co-wrote. She has directed twenty-four of Shakespeare’s plays, some of them multiple times. Recent credits include The Crucible at Olney Theatre Center and Lauren Gunderson’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Cincinnati Playhouse. Upcoming projects include Audrey Cefaly’s Maytag Virgin at Merrimack Repertory Theatre and Pippin at Olney Theatre. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and currently Chairs the Drama Department at The Catholic University of America.

Actor Bios:

Neal Bledsoe (Marc Antony) is an actor and writer. Stage Credits: Michael Arden’s The Pride at The Wallis Annenberg (Ovation nom.), he originated the role of The Count in Stephen Wadsworth’s The Figaro Plays at McCarter Theater, and worked with Jeremy Irons, Joan Allen, Andre De Shields, Marsha Mason and Jack O’Brien on Broadway’s Impressionism. TV: Shameless, The Man in the High CastleThe Last Tycoon, The Mysteries of Laura, Smash, Ironside, Timeless, Ugly Betty, and many more. Film: Revolutionary RoadSex and the City 2 and upcoming Soldier’s Heart alongside Val Kilmer. His has won several awards for independent features Junction, West Endand After The Sun Fell. Since 2014, he has been a sports journalist contributor to Sports Illustrated’s MMQB. His series The Delicate Moron chronicles his attempt to play for the LA KISS, the now defunct Arena League pro football team owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. As an artist he has collaborated with Jon Kessler on his work The Web in New York City and Basel, Switzerland; and with Contemporary American artist Mark Flood in Austin, TX. He is also a filmmaker, author, poet and was once even an Old Spice man. He is a graduate of UNCSA’s school of drama, (BFA ’05) making his Festival debut with Antony and Cleopatra.

Liam Craig (Enobarbus) Broadway: Boeing Boeing (u/s, appeared). Off-Broadway: Julius Caesar, The Killer (TFANA), Later Life (Keen Company), The Internationalist (Vineyard Theatre), Aunt Dan and Lemon (New Group), and The Two Noble Kinsmen (Public Theater). Regional: Henry V, Seder (Hartford Stage), Book of Will (Denver Center, World Premiere), Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Uncle Vanya (Weston Playhouse), The Tempest (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Accidental Death of An Anarchist, and Servant of Two Masters (Yale Rep). TV: Mozart in the Jungle, and Law and Order: SVU. Film: The Royal Tenenbaums.

Talley Gale (Octavia) is delighted to join this summer’s company. Credits include: Hamlet, Love’s Labors Lost, Macbeth, and Red Velvet (The Old Globe); Proof (Oldcastle Theatre Company), and This is Our Youth (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). She can be seen in the web series Queen’s English. BFA Acting, Ball State University; MFA, The Old Globe/University of San Diego.

Eleanor Handley (Agrippa) Returns for her 6th summer at PSF. PSF credits: Twelfth Night (Olivia), The Taming of the Shrew (Katherina), Blithe Spirit (Elvira), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Maggie), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Lend Me a Tenor (Diana), Macbeth (Witch), Comedy of Errors (Adriana), and The Two Noble Kinsmen (Emilia); NYC: Most recently she made her Lincoln Center debut in the New York premiere of The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard. Also 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), Witness for the Prosecution (Barrymore Nomination), and Time Stands Still; TV: Royal Pains, As the World Turns, and Unforgettable.

Justin Mark (Octavius Caesar) Theatre: In A Word (Cherry Lane), The Forgotten Woman (Bay Street). TV: Charles Van Dahl on Gotham (Fox), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), Madam Secretary (CBS). Film: Netflix’s Coin Heist, and the indie Frat Star. Newt in the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. Education: Juilliard.

Matthew Floyd Miller (Eros) has acted all across the U.S. for twenty-three years. Broadway: Not About Nightingales (Directed by Trevor Nunn), and The Invention of Love. Off-Broadway: Another Part of the Forest (Pecadillo) and Letters From Cuba (Signature). Regional includes: Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare, co-directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, of Penn and Teller), Stupid Fucking Bird (Theatre @ Boston Court, L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award). Some other theatres: Geffen Playhouse, ACT- Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Wilma, Dallas Theatre Center, Arena Stage, The Old Globe.

Ilia Isorelýs Paulino (Charmian) is a third-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where her credits include Twelfth Night (Yale Repertory Theater) Seven Spots On The SunThe SeagullThe Girl Is Chained, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Other credits include Agreste (Drylands)(Yale Cabaret); As You Like ItEvitaThe Taming of the ShrewJulius CaesarThe Little MermaidRapunzelPericlesLes MisérablesTwelfth NightMuch Ado About Nothing (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); and Thrive (Page 73). She attended DeSales University, where she earned a BA in musical theater.

Luigi Sottile (Pompey, and Thidias)PSF: Shakespeare in Love, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Chicago: Familiar and Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); Hundreds and Hundreds of Stars (Goodman); Book of Will (Northlight); and Shakespeare in Love, Othello, The Tempest (CST). Regional: The Way Of The World (Folger Theatre); Zombie The American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex With Strangers (Signature Theatre DC); Much Ado About Nothing, Three Musketeers (Utah Shakespeare Fest.); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street); Angels In America, The Vibrator Play (Wilma Theater); and The Cherry Orchard, Nathan The Wise (People’s Light). TV: Chicago PD (NBC); and It’s A Man’s World (YouTube Red).

Nondumiso Tembe (Cleopatra) born in Durban, South Africa, and raised in NYC, she is the daughter of two of Africa’s most successful opera singers. She has studied theatre at world-renowned institutions and classical ballet (20 years). She is the first South African actress to earn an MFA from Yale School of Drama. Regional: McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, Miller Theatre, and Boston Court; South Africa, award-winning performances: the musical, King Kong (Joyce),title role, Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; and David Mamet’s, Race (Susan); TV: SixTrue Blood, NCIS, NCIS: LA, Book of NegroesGenerations and Castle; Film: Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, Avengers II, and upcoming Zulu Wedding. Debut album: IZWI LAMI; My Voice (MetroFM Music Award). Tribute Concerts: Nelson Mandela’s birthday (Qunu, South Africa) and United Nations UNESCO, Paris.

Creative Team:
J. Alex Cordaro (Fight Director) PSF credits: Richard II, Ragtime, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Henry V, Fiddler, As You Like It, Othello, and Shrew. Regional credits include the McCarter, The Wilma, The Actors Theater, The Arden, Philadelphia Theater Company, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theater Exile, Inis Nua, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Alex runs the Stage Combat progression at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors.

Sarah Cubbage (Costume Designer) Favorite designs include: The Triumph of Love and Hippolyte et Aricie (director, Stephen Wadsworth); The Juilliard School; Crazy for You, David Geffen Hall (director, Susan Stroman); Beauty & The Beast, Disney Creative Entertainment/Disney Cruise Lines; The Lily’s Revenge, American Repertory Theatre; Dark Lark, BAM (Kate Weare Company); The Radio Show (Bessie Award,Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion). Off-Broadway: Soho Rep, Theatre for the New City, Aquila Theatre Company, Urban Stages, Ohio Theatre, Atlantic Stage 2.Member of USA 829.

Eric T. Haugen (Lighting Designer) In recent seasons, Eric has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: RagtimeEvitaWest Side StoryLes MisérablesFiddler on the RoofOklahoma!Sweeney ToddSouth PacificDracula: The Journal of Jonathan HarkerKing LearAmadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others.  His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country.  Through his company, Luminous Design Studios, Eric provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide. In August of 2018, Eric joined the faculty of DeSales University and is thrilled to be teaching the next generation of designers. www.LD-Studios.com

William Neal (Sound Supervisor and Designer) is the Resident Sound Designer and Sound Supervisor for PSF and for DeSales University. He has designed sound and/or composed original music for over 65 productions, including the original Off-Broadway productions of After, Daniel’s Husband, Small World, Drop Dead Perfect, and The Little Prince, as well as dozens of regional productions, including last summer’s PSF production of Richard II. William is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association.

Shelby North (Production Stage Manager) Shelby is delighted to be making her PSF debut! She is a Philadelphia based Stage Manager whose previous credits include Bridges of Madison County (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Oliver! (Quintessence Theatre Group), AssassinsFather Comes Home from the Wars (Yale Repertory Theatre), The Petrified ForestChurch and State, Fiorello!Constellations, and Million Dollar Quartet (Berkshire Theatre Group). Shelby is a graduate of Yale School of Drama with an MFA in Stage Management.

Sean Ravitz (Assistant Stage Manager) PSF debut. Broadway: Lincoln Center. Regional: Bristol Riverside Theatre, Walnut Street, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pig Iron Theatre Co, FringeArts Philadelphia, Berkshire Theatre Group, CENTERSTAGE Baltimore, REV Theatre Company, and New City Stage Company. Film/Events: McElhinney Productions (Key PA), Philadelphia Gay Pride Festival (SM), FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony (Calling SM), U2 Rock Band (Substitute Calling SM).

Roman Tatarowicz (Set Designer) Recent: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Humans (Walnut Street Theatre); and Sweat (People’s Light). Selected Off-Broadway credits: The Banana Monologues (Acorn Theatre); Honky, Apostasy, Roses in December, The Sweepers, Comfort Women, Mother Lolita, The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion, and 27 Rue de Fleurus (Urban Stages); Mother Courage, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Triumph of Love, Dona Rosita The Spinster, The Threepenny Opera, Dames At Sea, and The Maids (Jean Cocteau Rep). Selected Off Off-B’way: Bee-Luther-Hatchee (Audelco Award nom.), Sacred Journey, Medal of Honor Rag, and Ionesco’s Macbett as well as the 20th anniversary production of Closer Than Ever at the Queens Theatre in the Park. Designs for Regional Theaters: Capital Rep,Florida Studio Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Ensemble Theatre Company (Santa Barbara), Bristol Riverside Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company, Azuka Theatre, Act II Playhouse, and Passage Theatre Company. Proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. www.tatarowicz.com