And no matter how it comes, the cast and crew of the Hudson Shakespeare Company (HSC) are not afraid of greatness.
The countywide traveling theatre company will make a few stops in Hoboken this summer, starting this Monday, June 16 at 7 p.m. They will present Twelfth Night at Shipyard Park, 13th Street and Constitution Way - with an unusual twist.
"We're putting it in a Hawaiian setting, with a beach-comber look," said Jon Ciccarelli, HSC artistic director, last week. "It definitely puts a different spin on things. It makes it more accessible [to the audience]."
He said the play has a "slacker element" to it, which lends itself to this kind of treatment.
"It's quite funny and irreverent," he said.
Ciccarelli has been with the company for 12 years and also acts and directs in HSC productions. He is one of 12 cast members in Twelfth Night, and loves the creative freedom the company provides.
"It's fun to stage sword fights," he said. "There's the always the allure of doing Shakespeare."
The company gives him the freedom to modernize the setting or tweak the play to make it more interesting for the audience.
He is responsible for, among many other things, choosing which plays the company will work on during the summer. The other two will be King John and Julius Caesar.
King John will be done in the traditional medieval setting, but Julius Caesar will use an all-female cast.
"We're putting it in a Hawaiian setting, with a beach-comber look."
- Jon Ciccarelli
Twelfth Night is a comedy that starts out with the heroine being shipwrecked, and is based on the 12th night of Christmas, when in old England servant would become master and vice-versa.
Michael Hagins, who will direct the show, said, "It's going to be a hilarious show. Everyone fits the roles perfectly."
Preparation and execution
Hagins has directed three other plays for the HSC, but he is very excited for this particular one.
"This show is a modern-day version," he said last week. "All of the characters are in modern dress, but there are no text changes."
According to Ciccarelli, the actors change from show to show, although there are some returnees.
He said they have a "break-in period" for new actors to help them deal with some unique challenges of outdoor theatre, including distractions and vocal projection.
Ciccarelli said that the company does not use microphones, and for this reason prefers actors with a singing background.
Ciccarelli explains that being outdoors invites crowd interaction, keeping "in the spirit of original Shakespeare."
Hagins said, "Every show is different. The actors need to be able to adjust to changes."
The heat is also a challenge, he said, so they try to make costumes as light-weight as possible.
"Everyone's been very cooperative," Hagins said. "It's been a lot of fun."
Starting with a comedy
Starting the season with a comedy makes it easier to get actors in the swing of things, he said.
"The characters are simple; there's the drunken uncle, the nerdy best friend. It's easy to put together."
Ciccarelli said the sets need to be minimal because of the limited amount of set-up and break-down time.
The lead actors are Catherine Leong as "Violet," Tony White as "Sir Toby Belch," Cat Johnson as "Olivia," and Ciccarelli as "Duke Orsino."
Ciccarelli is looking forward to the production of King John, since it's not done very often and because of the authentic-looking costumes. Plus, there's the sword fighting.
Tony White, one of the leads in Twelfth Night, will direct King John. Ciccarelli will direct Julius Caesar.
Dates of reruns
The HSC will be back in Hoboken after traveling the greater tri-state area on June 23 and 30 for encore presentations of Twelfth Night at Sinatra Park. They'll be back for King John on July 7 and 21 at Shipyard Park, and July 14 at Sinatra Park. Finally, they'll be in town for Julius Caesar on August 4 at Shipyard Park, and August 11 and 18 at Sinatra Park.
The Hudson Shakespeare Company was founded in 1992, and aside from the traveling outdoor theatre, they provide workshops including Shakespeare 101, Sword Combat, Acting for the Camera, and Shakespearean Dance.
For more information, visit www. hudsonshakespeare.org.
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