NORMAL — The 2019 season of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival will feature world premiere adaptations of “As You Like it,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Caesar.”
The adaptations are in line with Artistic Director John Stark's theme of “a fresh look at classic stories,” he said.
The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is the professional theater at Illinois State University's College of Fine Arts.
The festival's 42nd season will open June 28 with William Shakespeare's comedy, “As You Like It.” The play will be directed by Robert Quinlan, associate artistic director, who also did the adaptation. Set in the early 20th century, the play also will include original music composed by Jordan Coughtry.
Coughtry, the most recent actor named to the festival's “Actor Honor Role,” portrayed the king in this summer's production of “Henry V.”
“As You Like It” relates the tale of Rosalind and Orlando, two young lovers who flee from the dangers of the court to the forest of Arden were, festival organizers say, they “delight in luscious nature, love, life, companionship and song – until Fortune makes everything right again.”
Deanna Jent, who directed the festival's “Merry Wives of Windsor” this year, will return to direct her adaptation of Jane Austin's acclaimed “Pride and Prejudice.”
In the classic novel, Elizabeth Bennett's life is pleasantly drab until the haughty, but handsome Mr. Darcy barges into it. The story asks whether Elizabeth can be true to her feelings while standing up to Darcy's arrogance and whether the worst first impressions can be overcome.
The third production, “Caesar,” is being adapted by and will be directed by Quetta Carpenter, who performed in festival productions in 2018 and 2015.
The classic tragedy will be set in the modern era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, with Julius Caesar's assassins and the inheritors of his authority engaging in political battles in media-saturated Rome.
“As You Like It' and “Pride and Prejudice” will be performed at the Ewing Theatre, on the grounds of the Ewing Cultural Center in Bloomington. “Caesar” will be performed on the ISU campus in the Center for the Performing Arts.
Season tickets are on sale now at the early bird price of $40 to $110 until Feb. 28, the rising to $50 to $130.
Individual tickets, which go on sale in March, range from $20 to $55.
For more information, check the festival website, https://illinoisshakes.com, or call the Center for the Performing Arts box office at 309-438-2535 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This year's festival saw solid attendance with an increase in season ticket sales, event officials reported earlier this fall. Among the season's highlights was obtaining a scale model of Shakespeare's second Globe Theatre that remains on display in the lobby of the CPA.
The festival will run through Aug. 10.