For several seasons, Pioneer Theater Company, stopped staging Shakespeare. That was dumb. As the reigning equity house in town, PTC is almost honor-bound to include the Bard in every season’s line up. My own love of the plays of Shakespeare got started with PTC productions. This is the era when Patrick Page chewed up all the scenery in stellar renditions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I mean, that’s theater right? The 1988–89 season’s A Midsummer Night stands out in my memory particularly. The stage, which used all the bells and whistles and hydraulics the Simmons offers, grew from the Duke’s garden to the woods right before our eyes and Page’s commanding Fairy King Oberon stole the show.
Page, who is still acting, is not in the production of Twelfth Night, opening on March 30, 2018, but still, the Bard is back baby. Let’s go to the plot. After a shipwreck, grief-stricken but self-reliant Viola washes up on the shores of 1812 New Orleans. Disguising herself as a boy, she becomes the confidant of Orsino, who sends her to woo in his name the beautiful but aloof noblewoman Olivia—who promptly falls in love with the “boy” she believes Viola to be.
Oh yes, Shakespeare loved him some mistaken identities. Twelfth Night is a fun one and a great choice to return Shakespeare to the Simmons stage.
Sadly, however, it looks like the newly announced 2018–19 season at PTC will not include a Shakespeare production. However, the new season is nevertheless exciting. We’ll get to see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, followed by a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. In January, the theater will present The Lion in Winter, a fascinating look at the battle of wits between two legendary figures, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Following that will be the charming musical love story Once, which won the 2012 Tony for Best Musical and Best Book, and the 2013 Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. Sweat, the powerful and emotional 2017 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, written by Lynn Nottage, will follow, and the season will conclude with Danny and Sandra Dee in the the musical Grease.
Oh well. Maybe Bill Shakespeare doesn’t get the butts in seats like he used to. At least we have Twelfth Night. The production runs from March 30 through April 14, 2018 at the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre (300 S. 1400 East, SLC). For tickets and details go to here.