Along with a two-night adaptation of "Nicholas Nickleby," Orlando Shakespeare Theater's 25th-anniversary season will see the return of fan-favorite "Dracula" and classic Shakespearean comedy and drama in "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Julius Caesar."
The Shakespeare shows bookend the season's Signature Series, with "The Taming of the Shrew" running Sept. 11-Oct. 6. Fiery-tongued Kate and fortune-seeking Petruchio lead a battle of the sexes memorialized on film by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
"Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker" is a homegrown production, adapted from Bram Stoker's novel by Orlando Shakespeare Theater artistic director Jim Helsinger. It was last presented in 2003 to sell-out crowds. The one-man show, which will run Oct. 9-Nov. 10, uses Stoker's original text of journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings to get its thrills and chills.
That's followed by lighter fare: "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" will run during the holiday season, Dec. 4-29. Inspired by Frank Capra's beloved Christmas film, five actors tell the story of George Bailey as a 1940s radio broadcast complete with sound effects and studio audience.
"The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," announced in January, will be staged Jan. 22-March 9, 2014. The largest undertaking ever by the Shakespeare Theater, "Nickleby" clocks in at 6.5 hours over its two nights, and features a cast of 30 actors playing 150 parts. The Shakes is just the third troupe in the country to perform the play, adapted by David Edgar from the comic novel by Charles Dickens.
The Signature Series closes with "Julius Caesar," Shakespeare's historical drama of trust, ambition and betrayal. It will run March 19-April 20, 2014.
The theater has tweaked the name of its smaller original-play series, tying it more closely to the Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, which will return in November. Two premieres will make up what's now simply called Harriett's New Play Series.
"The Cortez Method," by Rob Keefe will run Aug. 29-Sept. 22. Fertility, home improvement and the complicated emotions of family collide in this dark comedy.
In "Pluto," by Steve Yockey, single mother Elizabeth Miller tries to jump-start her relationship with her withdrawn son, Bailey, in the wake of a local tragedy. It runs Feb. 27-March 23, 2014.
The 25th-anniversary season also features three Theater for Young Audiences productions based on popular literature: a fun spin on "Sleeping Beauty" by local playwright-actor Brandon Roberts; "A Night in New Orleans: A Magic Treehouse Adventure," a jazzy adventure set on Halloween in 1915 New Orleans; and "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs," a comic courtroom rock musical.
Celebrating 25 seasons is a milestone for any theater," said managing director PJ Albert. "We feel that this season offers something for everyone with two Shakespeare favorites bookending the Signature season, the theatrical event 'Nicholas Nickleby,' and our continued commitment to finding the next great playwright through Harriett's New Play Series."
A gala opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 8; tickets go on sale June 1.
Season tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling the Orlando Shakespeare Box Office at 407-447-1700, or by going to orlandoshakes.org. Tickets to individual shows go on sale June 4.
All productions take place at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St., in Orlando's Loch Haven Park.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun