Kansas City ESU members and guests attended the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's production of The Winter's Tale on Monday, June 30, 2014. This annual ESU Group Night gives ESU members and guests a special group price for reserved seating close to the stage.
This year's Shakespeare tragi-comedy, The Winter's Tale was written toward the end of Shakespeare's theatrical career, The Winter's Tale (1609-1611) is a story of loss and redemption. In a fit of wild and unfounded jealousy, Leontes, the King of Sicily, convinces himself that his pregnant wife is carrying his best friend's love child. Leontes's jealousy turns to tyranny as the King proceeds to destroy his entire family and a lifelong friendship. Sixteen long years pass, and we witness one of the most astonishing endings in English literature.
It was an exceptional production with lavish stage sets, colorful costuming, a musical quartet playing off to the side giving during scene transitions and some of the best Shakespearean actors in Kansas City. Sidonie Garrett directed the this rarely produced play.
Robert Trussell, Kansas City Star, theatre critic, commented on the professional actors in the production, "(Bruce) Roach and many of his fellow players represent the best Shakespearean actors in Kansas City. John Rensenhouse as King Polixenes, Leontes' boyhood friend, brings effortless authority to the stage. Cinnamon Schultz is a marvelous model of economy as the virtuous Hermione, queen to Leontes."
Kansas City ESU's First Place 2014 Shakespeare Competition winner, Makenna Lockhart, was in this production of The Winter's Tale as one of the Bohemian Peasants and was her fourth production with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate with outdoor stage productions and the night our ESU group attended, the second act after intermission, had to be cancelled due to the major storm approaching the KC area. Fortunately, the cancellation was timed just right because the audience left the park about 15 minutes before the storm arrived. ESU members and guests who attended the performance were offered a return visit see the entire play. Subsequent nights had perfect weather in the low 70s.
Every year, before each performance, two Shakespeare enthusiasts, Felicia Hardison Londré and Philip blue owl Hooser give audiences an entertaining and educational preview of the play. This 30 minute overview of the plot and historical background on the play gives theatre-goers a good opportunity to learn more about the play. Several ESU members and guests attended Felicia's "Show Talk."