The two mainstage Shakespeare plays run in rotating repertory on campus in the Performing Arts Center theatre at Winona State University through July 26. The mainstage Equity season will be augmented by the 2009 Intern/Apprentice Acting Company project, Hamlet, which will play five performances during the Festival's closing week, July 21-25.
Paul Barnes, GRSF founding company member and producing director, directs the comedy Love's Labours Lost; Alec Wild, GRSF founding company member and associate director, directs the romance The Tempest. Frederic Barbour, also a founding company member, directs Hamlet.
Returning to the festival are set designer Scott C. Neale; costume designer Margaret E. Weedon; lighting designer Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz; sound designer Katharine Horowitz; and Ruth George, properties director.
Daniel Kallman returns for his third season as a composer and is creating music performed live by the actors in The Tempest.
Gregg Coffin, who composed music for GRSF's 2005 season production of Much Ado About Nothing, has composed and arranged music for Love's Labours Lost. Daniel Munson is the festival's production manager; Erik Paulson is technical director; Jeff Stevenson is general manager. The festival's 17-member acting company features several returning members, including Jonathan Gillard Daly (Prospero, Holofernes); Michael Fitzpatrick (Stephano, Boyet); Tarah Flanagan (Ariel, Princess of France); Shanara Gabrielle (Ceres, Rosaline); Christopher Gerson (Caliban, Don Adriano de Armado); Chris Mixon (Gonzalo, Berowne); Doug Scholz-Carlson (Trinculo, King of Navarre), Andrew Carlson (Sebastian, Longaville); Brian David Frederick (Master/Francisco, Dumain); Evan Fuller (Adrian, Mote); Nicole Rodenburg (Miranda, Maria); David Rudi Utter (Boatswain/Spirit, Costard); Eva Balistrieri (Iris, Jacquenetta); and Nick Demeris (Ferdinand, Marcade/Forester). Daly, Gerson and Scholz-Carlson are six-season veterans of the Festival.
Joining GRSF for their first seasons are Jeremy Van Meter (Alonso, Sir Nathaniel); David Coral (Antonio, Constable Dull); and Kate Mazzola (Juno, Catherine).
Carlson, Frederick, Fuller, Rodenberg, Utter, Balistrieri and Demeris began at the festival as members of its Apprentice Acting Company, members of which audition and are selected from undergraduate and graduate actor training programs from around the country to study and perform with the festival each summer.
In addition to the professional members of the company, the 2009 GRSF features eight young performers from the area: Ceci Bernard, Chris Bernard, Katie Bowler, Mitchell Essar, Duncan Halleck, Moira Marek and Theo Morgan in Love's Labours Lost and Tessa Wild in The Tempest.
For more information about Great River Shakespeare Festival and its many programs, including a guest speaker series, visit www.grsf.org or call (507) 474-7900.
The Festival is posting ticket sales 19 percent in advance last season. "We attribute that 'surge' to many things, including the implementation of a new website and online ticket ordering system, which has made it much easier for people to reserve and purchase tickets to the plays," stated Jeff Stevenson, GRSF general manager. "The lowest level of our individual donor base has increased by 120 percent since last season, and we've also received word recently of a $10,000 grant from the NEA, in addition to other local and regional foundation support. The news is encouraging, in spite of the economic downturn, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that these current trends will continue through the season and into the next."
"We've got plenty of work to do," stated Barnes, GRSF producing director. We're experiencing exactly what other companies are finding with their higher-end donors and traditional corporate, business, and foundation support: uncertainty and a reluctance to commit until the economic picture clarifies. But the community remains proud and enthusiastic about what we've managed to create here in a very short few years, and our audience's appetite for Shakespeare's plays along with their confidence in themselves and their trust in the festival itself increases steadily from one year to the next. We even survived what many colleagues told me was the suicidal pairing of The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew as our fifth anniversary season productions. But we established ourselves from the get-go as a company willing to take risks, and we don't want to give up that part of our mission just when we're gaining a toe-hold in the Upper Midwest. With the opening of a new Museum of Maritime Art, the explosive popularity of the annual Frozen River Film Festival, the advent of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival (with the Minnesota Orchestra in residence in Winona for a series of concerts in July), and the number of already-established arts organizations here, Winona is fast becoming a destination for theatre, music and art lovers from across the Midwest. We're very proud of the role we’ve played in helping establish that identity."