Audiences have grown in two years, a week has been added to this summer's schedule and there is now talk of a permanent home for the Equity troupe, which began in 2004 after discussions between three Midwest theatre colleagues — Paul Barnes, Alec Wild and Mark Hauck.
The 2006 season offers Romeo and Juliet (opening June 30) and Twelfth Night (opening July 1) in repertory. The acting company is made up of Midwest actors, New Yorkers and artists from around the country.
Performances are at the Performing Arts Center, Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, on the lip of the Mississippi River.
Paul Barnes directs Romeo and Juliet, Alec Wild directs Twelfth Night.
What's new for the young company? "Subscribership is up," GRSF's Julie Johnson told Playbill.com. "Season two ticket sales were 7,300, up from 6,200 in season one. We hope to reach at least 8,300 this season. We increased the run length of the festival from five to six weeks for season three. We still have a strong core of local, community support."
The support is not only local, but statewide.
"On May 21, the Minnesota House and Senate passed a bonding bill that includes a $250,000 grant to the city of Winona to help initiate a pre-design of a permanent home for the Great River Shakespeare Festival near the Mississippi River in downtown Winona," Johnson said.
On May 11, GRSF announced the resignation of producing director Mark Hauck, one of the three co-founders. Hauck will pursue other endeavors in the Twin Cities. Paul Barnes and Alec Wild remain as founding producers and directors. The Festival Board of Directors appointed Jeff Stevenson from La Crosse, WI, as Interim General Manager.
The 2006 acting company includes Marcus Truschinski (Romeo/Sir Andrew Agucheek), Laura Coover (Juliet), Christopher Gerson (Mercutio/Orsino), Jonathan Gillard Daly (Friar Laurence/Malvolio), Carla Noack (Nurse/Maria), Michael Fitzpatrick (Capulet/Sir Tony Belch), Kim Martin-Cotton (Olivia/Wife to Capulet), Jason Michael Spelbring (Benvolio/Sebastian), Jacques Roy (Tybalt/Antonio), Doug Scholz-Carlson (Escalus/Friar John/Feste), Rob Eigenbrod (Paris/Fabian), Brian Frederick (Capulet Servant/Curio/Officer), Jack Sanderson (Monatgue/Sea Captain) and Shanara Gabrielle (Viola/Lady Montague).
For more information, visit www.grsf.org.