The cast of Universes' "Party People" at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012. (Photo by Jenny Graham)

OSF’s 2017 Season to Feature Disney-Affiliated Shows, New August Wilson

Universes, Jiehae Park, Randy Reinholz, and Luis Alfaro join the Bard for a wide-ranging slate.

ASHLAND, ORE.: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) artistic director Bill Rauch announced the festival’s 2017, season today, including a diverse array of classics, new work, and musicals.

“It brings me such joy to share these 11 amazing, powerful stories with our audiences,” said Rauch in a statement. “The sense of adventure, discovery, and revelation is palpable in every play. The 2017 season represents our ever-growing passion and dedication to represent voices and stories that reflect the cultural richness, and at times the painful legacy, of our country. The season also takes us deeper into our commitment to our namesake playwright and the exciting Canon-in-a-Decade project, with a particularly enticing opportunity in our most intimate theatre space: Patrons will have the rare opportunity to see both parts of Henry IV in the Thomas Theatre, perhaps as part of a same-day marathon.”

The season begins with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Feb. 17–Oct. 29), directed by Shana Cooper. It will be OSF’s eighth production of the play.

Next is Shakespeare in Love (Feb. 18–Oct. 29), adapted from Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s popular Oscar-winning film screenplay by Lee Hall. Christopher Liam Moore will direct what is billed as the show’s West Coast premiere; it opened on the West End in 2014 and will play in the Stratford Festival’s 2016 season starting in April, but no New York dates have been announced. It is presented by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.

Following is Mojada (Feb. 19–July 6), a contemporary retelling of Euripides’ tragedy of Medea by OSF resident playwright Luis Alfaro. Juliette Carrillo will direct.

Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One will open next (Feb. 23–Oct. 28), directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, to be joined in the summer by Henry IV, Part Two (July 4–Oct. 28) directed by Carl Cofield.

Next is the world premiere of Jiehae Park’s Hannah and the Dread Gazebo (March 29–Oct. 28). The play, about a young neurologist who embarks on a surreal adventure to find out the truth about her Korean grandmother, will be directed by Chay Yew.

Robert O’Hara will direct the next offering, UniSon (April 19–Oct. 28), a music- and movement-filled exploration of August Wilson’s poetry by OSF’s resident ensemble, Universes (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, William Ruiz–a.k.a. Ninja, and Gamal Chasten). The world premiere work is presented in association with Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero.

The festival’s outdoor season kicks off with The Merry Wives of Windsor (June 6–Oct. 13), directed by Dawn Monique Williams, and continues with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (June 7–Oct. 14), directed by Eric Tucker, and The Odyssey (June 8–Oct. 15), directed and adapted by Mary Zimmerman from Robert Fitzgerald’s translation.

The last opening of the season will be OSF’s first play by a Native American author, Randy Reinholz’s Off the Rails (July 27–Oct. 28). Bill Rauch will direct this free adaptation of Measure for Measure set in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, which Reinnholz has described as “Blazing Saddles meets Shakespeare—with Native Americans taking the reins.”

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