is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bob Singleton: Lawyer Up!

Last night, I went to the Arboretum to watch the glorious opening night of SummerFest, and what a treat it was!   The new updated version of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was so entertaining, the evening soared with sounds of laughter, despair, sadness and then thunderous applause. 
 
Under Ave Lawyer's clever direction, Merchant is a delight to watch unfold - there's a great Romeo & Juliet flashback that I won't spoil for you, but you must see it, the entire crowd oohed and ahhed at that moment. 
 
So congratulations to Carmen Geraci whose Antonio survived the penalty exacted by Adam Luckey's Shylock, who I really feared was going to get his pound of flesh, even though I knew how it would end!  Lisa Thomas is magificent as Portia -- in fact everyone's performance was so spot on, from the cast to the crew, it was truly a triumphant moment for SummerFest.

Also in the cast is my favorite go-to guy for all things quotable in local theatre, Bob Singleton. Typically honest and unselfish, when I asked him how this version differed from others of Shakespeare's tale, he politely deferred to Luckey's description below.  "I think Adam's response was quite thorough.  Modern day setting, incorporating tech gadgets (and sporting events, so to speak), style o dress....lots of A/V, live camera. But the emotions, relationships and interactions, the complicated, layered personalities of the characters...same as it ever was, to quote David Byrne. I like the way Ave has brought the production into the 21st century...it makes the conflict, the 'class system,' the prejudices, so much more immediate. As Ave said, you can't sit back and say 'these are people and events that took place any years ago and therefore I can distance myself.'"


What role does Singleton play? "Bassanio is my name, and fucking things up is my game. As far as the overall scheme of things, Bassanio basically gets the ball rolling, eventually resulting in the shit hitting the fan, for the sole purpose of feeding his means. He's a privileged, spoiled guy who has blown all his money and is in debt. To keep the kneecap breakers at bay, he hatches a scheme to woo a rich lady. To pull it off, he has to borrow money from a friend. Or to put it more accurately, borrow money from a person that Bassanio knows he can take advantage of. Bassanio is the leader of his little posse of friends, he's a bit of a charmer, but he's also selfish, spoiled, and about to learn a thing or two about consequences, about cause and effect, and what it means to take a vow/make an oath."

"Why did I want to audition? Simple. Because Ave Lawyer is the Director. One of the best.  I could go on at length, but I have to do a show tonight. :) "
I asked him how he felt about three women directing all three shows for this year's SummerFest, and he explained, "I don't think of it so much as women directing all 3 shows, I see it more as having 3 incredibly talented people at the helm of all three shows. From concept to completion, from page to stage, for combining all the elements into fully realized, powerful productions...the Summerfest folks hired the right people, and that's what I want to see."


"I've worked with Ave on a number of shows, I think the first time was in 2004 or 2005...Moon Over Buffalo at Woodford County Theatre...after that was The Story at AGL, Joe Egg at Studio, Arcadia at AGL, and Another Part of the Forest with On The Verge Productions. And now Shakespeare for Summerfest. 6 shows with 5 different companies at 5 different venues. I think that's kinda cool. Hopefully, there will be many more opportunities in the future."


As you can see, Bob Singleton's secret talent is that he's generous -- always ready to share the spotlight (plus he's married to Allie Darden, so the fellow's just naturally blessed).  Oh, and he also plays the drums...but you probably already knew that, didn't you?

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SummerFest continues a 29-year tradition of outdoor summer theatre at The Arboretum: State Botanical Garden in Lexington, KY. This year's season includes:


THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (July 7-11)

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Ave Lawyer


PRIDE & PREJUDICE (July 14-18)

adapted by Jon Jory

Directed by Sullivan Canaday White

RENT, THE MUSICAL (July 21-25)

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Directed & Choreographed by Tracey Bonner

Music Direction by Mark Calkins


**********************************


The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare will open 2010’s SummerFest on July 7 and play through July 11, 2010. Ave Lawyer (recently seen directing On The Verge’s productions of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes and Another Part of the Forest) will make her SummerFest debut directing one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing tales of love, greed and revenge. Audiences can look forward to a unique and timeless interpretation of this classic that hasn’t been produced in Lexington for over 20 years.


The Merchant of Venice Cast Includes:


Shylock - Adam Luckey

Portia - Lisa Thomas

Antonio - Carmen Geraci

Bassanio - Bob Singleton

Gratiano - Evan Bergman

Salarino - Ryan Briggs

Lorenzo - Tanner Gray

Jessica - Joe Elswick

Nerissa - Rosanna Hurt

Launcelot - Patrick Davis

Duke - Jack McIntyre

Aragon - Jeff Sherr

The Prince of Morocco/Stephano - Whit Whitaker

Salerio - Nick Swartz



*******

Sullivan Canaday White (2008’s The Lord of the Flies) returns to SummerFest to direct a critically praised adaptation of one of the most beloved novels of our time, Pride And Prejudice. The adaptation is written by Jon Jory, well known in Kentucky as the celebrated, former, longtime Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Pride And Prejudice will play July 14 through July 18, 2010.

Pride And Prejudice Cast Includes:

Mrs. Bennet - Trish Clark

Mr. Bennet - Walter Tunis
Elizabeth Bennet - Ellie Clark
Jane Bennet - Holly Brady
Mary Bennet - Annie Barbera
Kitty Bennet- Erin Cutler
Lydia Barret/Georgiana - Avery Wigglesworth
Mr. Darcy - Tom Phillips
Charlotte - Sarah Levy
William Lucas/Mr. Collins/Mr. Gardner -Tim Hull
Miss Bingley/Mrs. Gardiner - Vanessa Becker
Lady Catherine - Stephanie Peniston
George Wickham - Drew Davidson


*******


SummerFest concludes with the show that transformed the definition of musical theatre, rocked a generation and changed Broadway forever, Jonathan Larson’s blockbuster musical, RENT, playing July 21 though July 25, 2010.


Tracey Bonner, no stranger to the Lexington musical theatre scene, makes her SummerFest directing debut with this Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning musical.


RENT Cast Includes:


Mimi Márquez -Jessica Lucas

Roger Davis - John Dawson

Mark Cohen - Chip Becker

Maureen Johnson - Caroline Griffeth

Angel Dumott Schunard - Emanuel Williams

Tom Collins - Nick Vannoy

Joanne Jefferson - Sheronda Piersall

Benjamin 'Benny' Coffin III - Thomas Gibbs

Seasons Of Love Soloist - Andrea Johnson


The Ensemble Includes:

Casey Mather

Justin Norris

Sarah Matthews

Brandon Smith

Cate Poole

Beth Kovarik

Wood Van Meter

Katie Berger

Nick Covault

******


All SummerFest 2010 performances will begin nightly at 8:45 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Arboretum: State Botanical Garden of Kentucky on Alumni Drive. SummerFest tickets will go on sale in June 2010 and will once again feature very affordable single ticket prices of $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Season Passes to see all three shows will also be available at $25 for adults and $12 for kids.


For more information on SummerFest, or the Conservatory programming, please visit them the web at www.kctcsummerfest.com.

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