Macbeth, a First for Philly's Wilma, Begins Sept. 29; CJ Wilson Grabs at Power

News   Macbeth, a First for Philly's Wilma, Begins Sept. 29; CJ Wilson Grabs at Power Wilma Theatre, the resident Philadelphia company known for its stagings of contemporary plays, presents its first Shakespeare production, Macbeth — with CJ Wilson and Jacqueline Antaramian as Macbeth and his Lady — starting Sept. 29.

Jacqueline Antaramian and CJ Wilson
Jacqueline Antaramian and CJ Wilson Photo by Christopher Gabello

Co-artistic director Blanka Zizka directs the season-opener, which officially opens Oct. 6 and closes on Nov. 7.

"I was very much inspired by an anonymous diary, 'A Woman in Berlin,'" Zizka said in production notes. "The author captures in the most unsentimental fashion the destruction of Berlin in the last weeks of World War II. For that reason, our production starts in the moment of history when a modern civilization is crumbling, the time is moving backwards, tribal impulses come to surface, raw ambitions and desires roam free, and disorder and chaos give rise to renewed beliefs, superstitions and witchcraft."

According to Wilma notes, "Tempted by the prophecies of three mysterious witches, Macbeth's ambition to be King of Scotland leads him into a nightmarish world of evil, deceit and murder. Monstrous actions run rampant as he and Lady Macbeth lose themselves to unstoppable drives of savagery and political atrocity. Featuring spectacular choreography, original music, and stunning visuals, this classic tale of power and madness promises to be like nothing audiences have ever seen on the Wilma's stage."

This is Wilson's debut on the Wilma stage. He recently appeared in Off-Broadway's Happy Now?, plus Broadway's A Steady Rain, Festen, Henry IV, Long Day's Journey into Night and The Best Man. Antaramian returns to the Wilma stage, where she was seen in 9 Parts of Desire, for which she won a Barrymore Award for Best Actress (2006). She was also nominated for Best Supporting Role for her portrayal of Jihane and Nawal (age 40-45) in the Wilma's 2009 production of Scorched. She also appeared in Off-Broadway's The Immigrant, the musical.

Macbeth's 20-member cast includes Ames Adamson as Ross/Porter, Nako Adodoadji as Weird Sister, Krista Apple as Weird Sister and Lady Macduff, Robert DaPonte as Donalbain, John Jarboe as Bloody Sergeant, Rachael Joffred as Weird Sister, Albert Jones as Macduff, Kevin Meehan as Lennox, Michael Rudko as Duncan, Lindsay Smiling as Banquo, Luigi Sottile as Malcolm and Ed Swidey as Angus. The ensemble includes Mark Cairns, John Greenbaum, Ian Sullivan, Joshua Dingle and young actors Antonio J. Dandridge and Avery Garlic.

The creative team also includes scenic designer Mimi Lien, Czech percussionist and composer Pavel Fajt (a leading figure in Czech rock and alternative music for nearly 20 years) and costume designer Oana Botez-Ban. Choreographer Brian Sanders "will help develop and define the elusive characters of Shakespeare's Weird Sisters."

Wilma Theatre is at 265 South Broad St., in Philadelphia. For information, call (215) 546-7824 or visit wilmatheater.org.

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