Shakespeare In Delaware Parks (SDP) RICHARD III hit the stage last Thursday to a packed hill. Be a part of the excitement this summer as we celebrate 37 years of FREE theatre in Buffalo’s own, beautiful Olmsted Park. RICHARD III will run Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 until July 14th. Then the ever popular A MID SUMMER NIGHTS DREAM will begin on Thursday July 26th and run until August 19th.
SDP is also proud to announce many special events happening at the park this season…..
* Join Artistic Director Saul Elkin, along with special guests from this season’s productions for MONDAY IN THE PARK WITH SAUL. These informal conversations about our current plays, past productions and the future of SDP, will take place on our “off” nights –Monday July 2nd, and Monday August 6th from 7:00-8:00 PM. Bring a chair and join us on-stage.
* On Special Tuesdays local musical groups including The Freudig Singers, The Royall Consort and City Honors String Orchestra will perform pre-show music on the SDP stage at 7pm.
* The SPCA and the Whiska Wag’n will join us at the hill July 15th and August 12th.
*SHAKESPERIENCE interns will perform their special preshow production on Friday July 13th and Friday August 17th at 6pm on the main stage.
Follow us on facebook for information on many more upcoming events!
SDP performances are held every evening (except Mondays) at 7:30 p.m. Shows take place on Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, next to Hoyt Lake behind the Rose Garden, off Lincoln Parkwaynear the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Further information may be obtained atwww.shakespeareindelawarepark.
2012 Season Sponsors Provide Generous Support
M&T Bank, Erie County, NYSCA, WGRZ Channel 2, The Buffalo News, Brodo, CP & I and Wynn Creative Group Additional funding comes from members, donors and audience donations.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s production of Richard III takes a weighty historical play and makes it delightfully accessible for a modern American audience in Buffalo, NY.
Through some choice bits of stage craft, from an introductory pantomime explaining Richard’s character to a battle riddled with marching ghosts, founding director Saul Elkin’s touch welcomes even the most casual of Shakespearean audiences into a part of British history plagued with royal rogues.
Elkin’s choice to stage the play circa the late 1950s, complete with fedoras, busy street sounds and strands of pearls, is inspired. Richard’s followers come off as so many “made men” or “wise guys,” always ready to betray a former ally for survival. Now that’s a bad guy American audiences can understand.
And as for the chief bad guy, he’s played with great depth by Timothy Newell, who has been acting on Buffalo stages for 17 years. Newell brings Richard’s evil lust for the throne to life, presenting a charismatic leader one minute, an unctuous suitor another and a sarcastic plotter above all.
When he plants an unwanted kiss on his brother’s widow, Queen Elizabeth (regally played by Eileen Dugan), after demanding that she make her young daughter available for him to marry, the audience can’t help but recoil.
Yet Newell never makes Richard into an over-the-top caricature of a villain. The prologue pantomime helps illuminate the twisted body of his twisted character. Richard’s two aides (Andrew Kittler and Todd Fuller, who also play murderer one and two) assist him in removing his dressing robe, thus unveiling his hump, and then into military uniform, reminiscent of Gestapo garb. In this extended scene, Kottler massages Richard’s twisted limb and carefully straightens each coiled finger, eliciting a gasp of pain from Richard.
Then, instead of a spoken prologue or – as they do it in the movies – a scrolling synopsis of the historical moment, Richard clicks on a radio and hears a broadcast about recent “wars of the roses” that bring him and the audience up to speed.
Newell is clearly the standout here. His slight build seems perfect for the role, and Mary McMahon’s makeup adds darkness to one side of his face, suggesting both dark scars on his character and a two-faced nature. Despite depicting Richard’s infirmities so clearly, Newell also demonstrates Richard’s unswerving passion. He woos the widow Anne with a kiss, and then meticulously wipes his mouth as soon as she leaves.
He is well-matched by his bloodless best cheerleader, Buckingham, played by character actor Robert Rutland. Buckingham seems to take great glee in Richard’s mayhem until the moment that Richard asks him to join in his beyond-the-pale plot to murder his two young nephews and heirs to the throne, Edward and York. Then Rutland’s swagger turns stammering and careful.
Costume designer Donna Massimo dresses the witch-like Queen Margaret (Lisa Vitrano) in anachronistic and ragged Victorian mourning garb, deftly setting her apart from Richard’s court and putting the ancientness of her grudge on exhibit. Vitrano shoulders the mantle of grief and anger well, her voice reaching glass-etching sharpness when she delivers the curse that foreshadows Richard’s murders and his eventual failure.
Sadly, when this moment is echoed later in the play by the Duchess of York (Colleen Neuman) cursing her surviving son, Richard, Neuman does not match the intensity. In the performance we saw, she lost her way in the dialogue, repeating a section.
Christopher Cavanaugh’s set, evoking industrial buildings of the Lancaster & Sons and YRK Inc. companies, is not especially well used. A second story is all but ignored for the first half of the play and then used almost as an afterthought a few times after the intermission.
But these faults are upstaged by excellent choices in editing the dialogue, direction, and even the sound design, which includes original music by Tom Maker as well as sound effects of rain.
The final battle scene is especially well crafted. Ghosts of all of Richard’s victims march relentlessly across the battlefield, looking like so many white-faced and macabre ducks in a shooting gallery as Richard and Richmond (an appropriately earnest and beatific Tom Wrath) fight with swords. The appearance of each ghost seems to take an emotional potshot at the flagging Richard before Richmond strikes the final blow.
Fittingly, Elkin trimmed the play to end at the moment Richmond pronounces Richard dead. It’s a moment of triumph for an experienced director and for the audience he whips into disgust over the evil king.
Tim Newell plays. Richard,Duke of Gloucester, along with Kay Kerimian, playing Lady Anne,in the first Shakespeare in Delaware Park production of the year, “Richard III.” on, Friday, June 22, 2012.
By Ted Hadley
NEWS CONTRIBUTING REVIEWER
Summer Shakespeare is back.
For the 37th time, Shakespeare in Delaware Park has returned with the first of two plays by the Bard of Avon along the shores of Hoyt Lake, where canoes glide and gulls swoop; a great blue heron visited on opening night. Peaceful. Serene. Idyllic.
Well, at least until actor Tim Newell begins to recite the famous first lines of “Richard III,” a history tale from Shakespeare’s dark side: “Now is the winter of our discontent,” he sardonically tells his audience confidants, an ominous start to his bloody narration of his trail to the British throne. His villainy begins at once. The body count rises rapidly.
In Shakespeare’s version of the story, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was born in 1452 — “unfinished,” he admits—with several physical handicaps: a withered arm, a gimpy leg, a hunchback. “Sent into this world half-made up,” he laments. Dogs bark at him. When his evil plans are gradually discovered, Richard is called “a bottled spider,” “an elfish, marked, abortive, rooting hog” and “a foul lump of deformity.” And those insults were from kin.
As Newell’s malignant Richard lopes about, he discloses to everyone what he’s going to do next. His favorite word is “dispatch.” His brothers, his nephews — princes, heirs, they could be a problem — his allies Hastings and Buckingham, are dispatched in rapid fashion. Richard, off-center funny, self-deprecating, can be strangely appealing. His sister-in-law, Lady Anne, widowed now thanks to him, is wooed over her dead husband’s coffin. “I’ll have her,” says the cackling one, “but not for long.” Next?
Richard finds that it’s good to be the king but uneasy lies the crown, so the saying goes. A challenger, the Earl of Richmond (later Henry VII), defeats Richard’s forces on Bosworth Field. He slays the “poisonous toad” after a fierce battle brilliantly staged, aided by Chris Cavanagh’s superb lighting design. “A horse!A horse!My kingdom for a horse!” Richard famously utters at the last. Peace is restored.
Director Saul Elkin has assembled a cast of 25, some familiar summer Shakespearians mixing with new faces, returnees and a surprise or two. All are able. Newell is a splendid Richard, emphasizing a warped mind rather than his twisted body (Elizabethans thought the two were inseparable). He’s very fine early on as the organizer of his awful deeds and later as a participant. He’s almost likable. Newell seems to have a knack for villainy: Years back, he brought plenty of menace to the role of Iago in SDP’s summer “Othello.”
Worthy in soliloquy and among the throng are Robert Rutland, oily and precise as Buckingham; Lisa Vitrano as mad Lady Margaret; David Lundy as Lord Hastings; Jacob Mirer as Clarence; Eileen Dugan as Queen Elizabeth; Kay Kerimian as Lady Anne; Jay Desiderio, long absent from local stages, as the Archbishop of York; Nicholas Lama as good guy Lord Rivers; and Adam Roth as a shouting Richmond. There is competent work by an ensemble playing multiple roles.
Director Elkin has found parallels in “Richard III” with corporate greed and power grabs—Wall Street, Madison Avenue, the halls of government — so backstabbing, disloyal guys in suits, a la television’s “Mad Men” series, are numerous. Costumes have been designed by Donna Massimo. The modern-day garb doesn’t add to the overall production; neither does it hurt. Just a little Shakespearian tweaking.
“Richard III” is long and involved. Director Elkin, after some innovative but sleepwalking opening moments, speeds the many comings and goings along the best he can on a drab monolithic set by Nathan Elsener. Steve Vaughn’s fight choreography is again stellar, and there is admirable work by a huge technical crew.
The SDP short season is dedicated this year to the late Western New York theater community icon Neil Garvey. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will follow “Richard III” from July 26 to Aug. 19.
3 1/2 stars
Presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays through July 15 by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Shakespeare Hill, behind the Rose Garden and Marcy Casino. Free. Call 856-4533 or visitwww.shakespeareindelawarepark.org .
June 7, 2012 Buffalo, NY … Shakespeare in Delaware Park is pleased to announce its 37th season of free professional outdoor theater will begin in 2 weeks. This summer’s highly anticipated season will begin June 21st when Shakespeare’s political thriller RICHARD III hits the stage; it is an exciting story of greed, intrigue and family betrayal and will be performed with a modern flare. Tim Newell will play the title role of Shakespeare’s most famous villain and will be directed by SDP founder Saul Elkin. A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM will be up next, opening July 26th. Director Kyle Loconti promises to give audiences a magical evening under the stars with this audience favorite. This production offers something for everyone, from mischievous fairies to loveable clowns, from high-brow intrigue to low-brow shenanigans.
Also join us for Monday In The Park With Saul on July 2 and August 6 from 7 to 8pm, as founder and Artistic Director Saul Elkin, production directors and some of our actors host an informal chat about our current season, past history and the future of SDP. Bring a lawn chair and join us on stage.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park reaches over 40,000 audience members each season and is pleased to be celebrating 37 amazing years of high-quality professional theatre. SDP is proud to remain as one of the largest FREE outdoor Shakespeare festivals in the county. RICHARD III runs June 21st – July 15th with A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM on stage July 26th –August 19th. Performances are held every evening (except Mondays) at 7:30 p.m. Shows take place on Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, next to Hoyt Lake behind the Rose Garden, off Lincoln Parkwaynear the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Further information may be obtained at www.shakespeareindelawarepark.
Season Sponsors Provide Generous Support
2012 Season Sponsors include M&T Bank, Erie County, New York State Council on the Arts, The Buffalo News, WGRZ Channel 2, CP&I and Wynn Creative Group. Additional funding comes from members, donors and audience donations.
By MIKE DESMOND
In five weeks Shakespeare in Delaware Park will open with Richard III, the playwright’s legendary look at power corruption and violence in medieval England.
In the lead role, Tim Newell will travel the stage at the bottom of Shakespeare Hill, at least once the stage is built.
Right now, it’s a fenced-off area and the pieces of the stage are being readied for assembly.
Founder and Artistic Director Saul Elkin says his company is putting to good use the $87,000 provided by Erie County when the County Legislature amended the budget to put nearly a $1 million into cultural agencies.
When the Collins Administration cut the culturals last year, Elkin says the community quickly showed its support of the free summer festival.
“Terrific outpouring of generosity from the public,” Elkin said.
“In the hat that we pass at intermission, in the annual letter we send out asking for help, people went a step further. Almost everybody who previously donated went a step further.”
Elkin says the entire budget for Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the festival operations is $300,000.