Author: Jill Kimball

Shakespeare Festival announces summer 2018 cast

The festival’s 61st company is one of its most diverse to date.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2018 season boasts a lineup of plays with heady romance, clever wordplay and thrilling swordplay. And now, the festival has a stellar cast to do it all justice.

CSF has assembled two casts of longtime festival favorites and exciting newcomers to bring its indoor and outdoor plays to life this summer. The 2018 company will be one of CSF’s most diverse to date, with one third of the roles going to actors of color.

The festival’s move to diversify its acting company is part of a larger goal to make Shakespeare’s rich, timeless works accessible to as many people as possible. The organization’s Shakespeare & Violence Prevention school tour is also in on the effort; for the past three years, one of its touring actors has spoken exclusively in Spanish to engage Colorado’s more than 600,000 native Spanish speakers.

“Historically, there haven’t been many opportunities for minority actors in classical theatre, and we’re committed to changing that,” says CSF Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr. “Our aim is for the CSF stage to reflect the strengths and talents of the diverse communities in which we live.”

Among this summer’s diverse cast will be Latino actor and CSF crowd favorite Rodney Lizcano, who will play the Bard’s most murderous, malicious and mesmerizing king in “Richard III.” Audiences have seen Lizcano before in “Hamlet” (Polonius/Gravedigger), “Equivocation” (Robert Cecil), “Othello” (Roderigo) and “Much Ado About Nothing” (Dogberry).

“Rodney is the quintessential character actor,” says Orr. “He can slip chameleon-like in and out of different roles with such skill and charisma. He is thrilling to watch on stage, and we can’t wait for him to sink his teeth into ‘Richard III.’”

He’s not the only one taking on one of classical theatre’s most demanding roles this summer. Playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Edmond Rostand’s 1897 magnum opus is Scott Coopwood, who made his CSF debut last season as Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew” and Brutus in “Julius Caesar.”

“As a role, Cyrano demands both physical and intellectual prowess, and Scott has both in spades,” Orr says. “He’s passionate and 100 percent committed to putting on a great show. Having Scott in the rehearsal room is like giving the whole company a shot of adrenaline.”

Orr has also assembled lively and seasoned ensemble casts to wow audiences in “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “You Can’t Take it With You.” Playing the king of Navarre and princess of France, who in “Love’s Labour’s” fall in love with each other but vehemently deny their feelings, are two festival first-timers: Colorado actor Marco Robinson and Los Angeles-based Desiree Mee Jung. Also coming to CSF for the first time are Seth Dhonau and Brynn Tucker, who play the quick-witted couple Berowne and Rosaline. (Tucker, who has been seen at the Denver Center, Curious Theatre and Shakespearean stages all over the country, will also play Roxanne in “Cyrano de Bergerac.”)

Also joining the “Love’s Labour’s” cast are festival newcomers Rafael Untalan (Don Armado) and Anthony Adu (Moth). A few CSF returnees, including Matthew Schneck (“The Taming of the Shrew”), Michael Bouchard (“Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead”) and Benaiah Anderson (“Troilus and Cressida”), will also appear on the outdoor stage.

Colorado audience favorites lead the ensemble cast in “You Can’t Take it With You,” a 1930s screwball comedy about a young couple whose two very different families meet at a disastrous dinner. Sam Gregory, seen last year in “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead,” returns to play Grandpa Vanderhof; Leslie O’Carroll, who has appeared in CSF’s “Noises Off” and “Twelfth Night,” plays Gregory’s daughter Penelope Sycamore. Making their CSF debuts are Lindsay Ryan and Christian Ray, who play the engaged young couple at the center of the play.

As always, a handful of talented CU Boulder student actors will join the company as interns. Among them are Aziza Gharib, who played Nora in CU’s “A Doll House;” Grant Bowman, who appeared in two CU theatre productions and three Eklund Opera performances this season;  Elena Sayeedi, who has appeared in “The Adding Machine” and “Fefu and her Friends;” and  Alex Rosenthal, who nearly a decade ago made his CSF debut as the boy Dill in “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

For complete cast information, browse the play pages below.

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