Colorado Shakes is about to go all ‘Midsummer glam-punk’ in 2020

Larry Hecht played Puck in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2013 production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ He’s back playing Sir Toby Belch in the DCPA Theatre Company’s upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night.’ Photo by Jennifer Koskinen.

From ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to ‘The Odyssey,’ Tim Orr promising ‘a fresh, wild, crazy’ 2020

Whenever the Colorado Shakespeare Festival announces its annual summer season, it’s not so much “What are they going to do?” as, “How are they going to do it?”

First, the what: For its 63rd season in 2020, the nation’s second-oldest Shakespeare festival will be staging A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus and Pericles by The Bard, as well as Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

Now, the how: Carolyn Howarth’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be the 10th in Colorado Shakes history. When last presented in 2013, the story was told with a distinctly Jazz Age flair. Next summer, Howarth will incorporate elements of glam-punk rock.

“For Midsummer, it’s really important that we take a new, fresh, wild, crazy, funky approach — and make it a party as well,” Producing Artistic Director Tim Orr said. “Carolyn understands that and understands that the value and beauty of the story is the lovers.”

Indoors, Managing Director Wendy Franz will set a stylized All’s Well That Ends Well in 1950s France; in 2007, the fest set the tale of a woman who woos the arrogant husband who abandoned her in 1660 London. Meanwhile, Stories on Stage Artistic Director Anthony Powell will direct Shakespeare’s rarely performed Roman war play Coriolanus. And while Powell will adhere to the time and place of the story as written, he said, “I want to make it as sexy and rough-and-tumble as it can be, and a pure Roman aesthetic doesn’t do that.”

The other outdoor offering is in itself a theatrical twist: Mary Zimmerman’s urgent adaptation of Homer’s ancient Greek poem The Odyssey. Zimmerman, best known for her transcending Broadway production of Metamorphoses, first adapted The Odyssey for the stage 20 years ago, but was coaxed into revisiting the story of Odysseus’ long way home in 2017 by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. That inventive production was called “a profound and dazzling masterpiece” by one Oregon critic.

“I am enthralled by this adaption by Mary Zimmerman,” said Orr, who will direct. “It is so theatrical, so moving and funny.”

Colorado Shakes’ annual one-night-only “Original Practices” production will be Pericles on August 2. These minimally rehearsed presentations demonstrate how plays might have been performed in Shakespeare’s time, with the actors receiving only scrolls that include their own lines and cues in advance.

Colorado Shakespeare Festival: The 2020 season at a glance

Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Zachary Andrews

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Mary Rippon Theatre. Photo by Zachary Andrews.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • June 5-Aug. 9, 2020
  • Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
  • Shakespeare’s most beguiling comedy centers on four young lovers who find themselves lost in a world where the moon is full, love is in the air – and just around the bend, a man has been transformed into an ass.
  • Directed by Carolyn Howarth
  • Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 2013 (10th overall)
All's Well that Ends Well 2007 Colorado Shakespeare Festival(1)

Geoffrey Kent in Colorado Shakes’ 2007 production of ‘All’s Well That Ends Well.’ Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado.

All’s Well That Ends Well

  • June 19-Aug. 8, 2020
  • University Theatre (indoors)
  • This smart coming-of-age romp introduces Helen and Bertram — one, a brilliant but poor physician’s daughter; the other a wealthy, roguish soldier — as they grow up and grow into themselves to find love.
  • Says Director Wendy Franz: “I think it’s really about both of them finding their way — and finding their way to each other as they find themselves. “It’s about that journey from grief and the ignorance of youth to maturity and the joy that it brings.”
  • Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 2007 (fifth overall)

Christopher Donahue and Colorado Shakes alum Benjamin Bonenfant (as Telemachus) in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2017 staging of ‘The Odyssey.’ Photo by Jenny Graham.

Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey

  • By Homer, adapted by Mary Zimmerman from the translation by Robert Fitzgerald
  • July 3-August 8, 2020
  • Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
  • The Trojan War is over, but Odysseus has not returned. Back home, his wife Penelope, plagued by suitors, promises to remarry as soon as she has finished her husband’s shroud — which she unravels every night. Meanwhile, Odysseus is stranded on islands, caught in storms, trapped by a Cyclops and a sorceress, and impeded by other monsters and gods. Will he ever make it home to his wife and fatherless son?
  • Says Director Tim Orr: “This adaptation shows us this ancient adventure that is still exciting, and how live theatre can be so powerful bringing it to life.”

Coriolanus

  • July 17-Aug. 9, 2020, University Theatre (indoors)
  • Follow the tumultuous career of one of ancient Rome’s super soldiers in Shakespeare’s white-hot war play. Coriolanus raises questions about the power of common people, the efficacy of leaders who always speak their mind and the strength of a democracy run by polarizing political schemes.
  • Says Director Anthony Powell: “It’s a wild script. It is a portrait of a man so deeply broken and conflicted that he can no longer navigate his way through normal society. The play is a political satire that morphs into genuine tragedy.”
  • Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 1995 (third overall)

Pericles

  • August 2, 2020
  • Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
  • Directed by Kevin Rich
  • Featuring a shipwrecked prince on the run after discovering a king’s terrible secret, this annual one-night-only event showcases a play as it might have been originally performed in the Bard’s time.
  • Last staged by Colorado Shakes: 1993 (third overall)

Ticket information

Season tickets are available beginning October 28 by calling 303-492-8008 or at coloradoshakes.org. Single tickets will be available beginning December 2.