Just got off the phone with Terry O’Brien (inset), who has set two of the three shows that will make up the Hudson Valley Shakespeare’s 24th season at the Boscobel Restoration in Garrison.
The festival’s artistic director is still after the rights to a too-soon-to-tell contemporary play, but he did announce that the company will present “Troilus and Cressida” and “The Taming of the Shrew” under the tent on a bluff overlooking the Hudson Highlands.
“Shrew,” the comedy of battling lovers Kate and Petruchio, is up for renewal in the HVSF repertoire, O’Brien says.
“We’ve sort of cycled the comedies,” he says. “We have a 10-year cycle and ‘Taming of the Shrew’ was the next one to come up.”
“Shrew” treads much the same ground as last season’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” with proud lead characters who trade barb for barb, and sometimes flower pot for flower pot.
“I don’t have casting definitively picked yet, but I think there are some people who would really suit those parts very well.”
Audiences are accustomed to seeing HVSF “regulars” under the tent in Garrison: Wesley Mann, Richard Ercole, Gabra Zackman, Katie Hartke and Michael Borrelli and long-time featured players Nance Williamson and Kurt Rhoads. But, actors’ schedules being what they are, there’s no guarantee who’ll show up to audition for O’Brien and his other to-be-named directors.
“I like the people I’ve ended up working with the most,” he says. “I enjoy them as actors and people, so that makes that part of the process nice for me. I can be surrounded by and work with people that I really like.”
Still, O’Brien says he wishes he could afford to cast his net wider to draw in others. “Of the list of people I want to work with, I can’t afford to hire them all, so it’s a mixed blessing. but knowing that there’s a skill set out there that I can count on is helpful.”
The second Shakespearean offering is “Troilus & Cressida,” a play HVSF has never attempted. Set in the Trojan War, it isn’t a pure tragedy, O’Brien explains, because “the lovers don’t die.”
“It suits our company and our environment and it’s a challenge, the same way (2008’s) ‘Cymbeline’ and (2009’s) ‘Pericles’ were challenges,” he says. “It’s the Trojan War and it has huge scope.”
Tickets for the 2010 season don’t go on sale until April, but gift certificates are on sale at the company’s Web site: www.hvshakespeare.org.
O’Brien says the recent trend of the past couple of years, of presenting three rotating works a summer, will continue. Last summer, it was “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Pericles” and the crowd-pleasing romp, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
“We do six nights a week now, so two shows isn’t really enough,” he says. “Doing three shows in rotation is great for our audience because people come there, they stay in a bed and breakfast and see a couple of shows. And it also keeps the actors on their toes; they like the variety as well.
“The way it worked last year was that each play would play two nights a week, so everybody had two nights off because everybody was only in two out of the three shows. It keeps actors fresh, but it also keeps them interested.”
He’ll know about the third play, and his directors, in a few weeks, he says.
(File photo of Terrence O’Brien by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)