Shakespeare's 437th birthday and the 22nd year of the Simon Studio were commemorated in a unique setting - the rec. room at a historic Columbia University-area bar. Famous and almost-famous alumni and current students of the Simon Studio presented an impressive group of scenes, using every inch of the expansive room, as well as audience members, as part of the ambience. Actors appeared in street clothes using the simplest of props, creating a '60s -style street theatre environment, while audience members wandered in and out and photographers documented the performance. Strict homage was paid to the Bard's language, with vivid, highly physicalized portrayals by all. Seasoned pros generously shared the stage with less experienced students in a mutually beneficial situation. Actors of all shapes, sizes, and ages were encouraged to share their talents, eschewing the youth-oriented look of many recent Shakespearean productions. Director Roger Hendricks Simon is to be congratulated for his dedication to the inclusion of all types of talented actors, and the large, enthusiastic crowd obviously agreed.
Highlights of the first part of the program included Daniel H. Simon's electrifying Hamlet, J.J. Reap's powerful Ghost, and Charles Turner's inciteful Gravedigger in Hamlet, and an ethereal, sensual Midsummer Night's Dream, with exceptional work from Richard Tayloe as Demetrius, Stephanie Foster as Titania, and Roy Del Toro as Bottom, with Lora Lee Ecobelli and Roger Hendricks Simon playing Titania and Bottom with equal success in a different scene. The second half of the program exploded with the famous chorus from Henry the Fifth ("O, for a muse of fire!') by DuVall O'Steen, who incorporated elegant and passionate modern dance movements into the piece. Roger Hendricks Simon's Prospero, Emily Metz's Ariel, Ron Rogers's Caliban, Dawn McEwan's Miranda, and Jeff Roches's Ferdinand were all top-notch in the Tempest scene. Alexandra Dorival as Emilia and Stephanie Foster as Desdemona were compelling in a scene from Othello. Daniel H. Simon's Mercutio was beautifully realized in the Romeo and Juliet segment, and May Adrales's Lady Hotspur was a knockout in a scene from Henry the Fourth, Part II.
With Denise Rogers, Deborah Paultier, Nancy Sirianni, Jack Cornwell, Ken Ewing, Amy Jo Mikiel, Sharrie Rose, Gustavo Heredia, Frederic Mardis, Gloria Harper, Robert Carabello, Matthew Ticknor, Didi Avant, Christi Spain-Savage, Joe Hickey, Keith Malek, Frank De Pasquale, Austin Drill, Rob Gonzalez, and David Coburn.
(In rotating repertory throughout the summer at this location and various
parks TBA. Call for locations and times.)
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Copyright 2001 Julie Halpern