Press Release: Casting Announcement for Richard III

For Immediate release: June 6, 2018
Contact: Kati Mitchell, kmitchell@commshakes.org

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
presents
“Free Shakespeare On the Common:”
William Shakespeare’s
Richard III
Directed by Steven Maler
Starring Faran Tahir

 July 18 – August 5
Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common

Wellesley, MA — Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler, is pleased to present its 23rd season of “Free Shakespeare on the Common:” William Shakespeare’s dramaRichard III, directed by Steven Maler and starring Faran Tahir. Performances are free of charge, and will take place on the Boston Common, near the Parkman Bandstand.

Performance dates: July 18 – August 5Tuesday – Saturday performances at 8pm; Sundays at 7pm (Off Mondays). There will be one 3pm matinee performance on Saturday, August 4.

Press opening: Wednesday, July 25 at 8:00pm

 Tickets: Performances are free and open to the public. A limited number of “Friends’ Section” reserved chairs are available for $60-75 donation per chair. For more information and to reserve chairs visit commshakes.org or call 617-426-0863. For Weather updates on performance nights, call the CSC weather hotline, (781) 239-5972.

One of Greater Boston’s most beloved traditions, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s “Free Shakespeare on the Common” takes up residence once again with Shakespeare’s drama Richard III. This searing drama chronicles the ruthless ascension of a king and the devastation he leaves in his wake as he gains power over the realm.

The Company includes Faran Tahir* as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Deb Martin* as Queen Elizabeth, Brandon Whitehead* as Stanley, Fred Sullivan, Jr.* as the Duke of Buckingham, Bobbie Steinbach* as Queen Margaret, Remo Airaldi* as George, Duke of Clarence, Brendan O’Brien as Richard, Duke of York, Michael Sáenz as the Bishop of Ely/Cardinal Bourchier, Sarah Sinclair as the Duchess of York, Libby McKnight* as Lady Anne, Mark Torres* as Hastings, Richard Noble as King Edward IV, and Seamus Doyle as Prince Edward. The Ensemble playing multiple roles is composed of CSC2 actors Claire Alexander, Ross Barron, Tyshon Boone, Marge Buckley, Bailie de Lacey, Kody Grasset, Stephanie Resnick, Billy Saunders, Jr., Felix Teich. Michael Underhill, Susannah Wilson, and Jaine Ye. The design team includes set and lighting designer Eric Southern, costume designer Jessica Pabst, sound designer Nathan Leigh, and fight director Angie Jepson.

About the Company:

Remo Airaldi* has appeared with CSC in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentleman of Verona, Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Comedy of Errorsand The Taming of the Shrew. He has appeared in over sixty productions at the A.R.T., including Night of the IguanaThe MiserOliver Twist (also at Theatre for a New Audience and Berkeley Repertory Theatre), and Island of Slaves(IRNE Award—Outstanding Actor). Other credits: Shakespeare in Love (Speakeasy Stage), My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd and Gypsy (Lyric Stage),  Exposed (Boston Playwrights’ Theater), The Hound of the Baskervilles (Central Square Theater), The King of Second Avenue (New Repertory Theatre) and productions at Hartford Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Cirque du Soleil, American Conservatory Theater, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville. He teaches acting and public speaking at Harvard University.

Seamus Doyle (Prince Edward) previously appeared in CSC’s staged reading of Fear and Misery in the Third Reich. Other theater credits include Fiddler on the Roof with New Repertory Theatre (IRNE and Elliot Norton Award nominations), and he appeared in over ten productions with Watertown Children’s Theatre including Seussical (JoJo), The Music Man (Marcellus), Grease (Vince Fontaine), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Nick Bottom), and Les Miserables (Fauchelevent).

Deb Martin* (Queen Elizabeth) returns to CSC after appearing as Goneril in King Lear. Recent credits include Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Croom in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at The Gamm Theatre, Barbara inBarbecue at Lyric Stage, Sam in Mud Blue Sky at Bridge Repertory Theater (IRNE Award, Best Supporting Actress), Eleanor in Casa Valentina at SpeakEasy Stage, and Corrine in Gidion’s Knot at Bridge Rep.  Other roles include Victoria Grant in the 2nd National Tour of Victor/Victoria, Holly in Next Fall at SpeakEasy Stage, Anna in Ivanov, Irma in The Balcony, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Kristín in Miss Julie. FilmSpartan with Val Kilmer and William H. Macy, written and directed by David Mamet.

Libby McKnight* (Lady Anne) returns to CSC where she performed the role of Cordelia in King Lear after being a member of the apprentice company in 2011. She just graduated from Juilliard Drama’s MFA program. Recent credits include Andromache in Trojan Women, Everybody in Everybody (Juilliard), and Judith Bliss in Hay Fever (Panther Creek Arts).

Richard Noble (King Edward) lives and works by day as a rare book librarian in Providence, where he has also appeared at the Gamm Theatre (going back to its days as Alias Stage), Perishable Theatre, the Brown Playwrights’ Festival, and most recently in the title role of Burbage Theatre’s production of Brecht’s Galileo. In earlier days he acted in a couple of dozen productions at Wesleyan University, was a member of the Dartmouth Summer Rep, and frequently appeared at the Parish Players in Thetford, Vermont.

Brendan O’Brien (Richard, Duke of York)’s Boston credits include Merrily We Roll Along (IRNE Nomination, Huntington Theatre), appropriate (SpeakEasy Stage Company), Show Boat (Fiddlehead Theatre Company) and State of Siege (Theatre de la Ville/ArtsEmerson. He also appeared with the Junior Show Choir with Boston Children’s Theatre. He is 11 years old, lives in Boston and this fall will be in the sixth grade at the Condon School.

 Michael Sáenz (Bishop of Ely/Cardinal Bourchier) has returned to the Boston theater community after having spent nine years in New York, where he acted, directed and produced off-Broadway and worked as a teaching artist at Lincoln Center and The New Victory Theatre. His play Möbius was part of the New York International Fringe Festival. Local credits include Sweeney Todd, The Winter’s Tale and Lady in the Dark. He teaches high school drama in Lynn and his play The Thousand Natural Shocks (based on his book) is in development with the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

Sarah Sinclair (Duchess of York) is a Rhode Island actress, Richard III is her first production with CSC. She took a long hiatus from the theatre to raise her family, and has been extremely active in the Gamm Studio in recent years, working on classical roles. She was seen in Romeo and Juliet, Barbecue, Blithe Spirit, A Streetcar Named Desire and Gabriel in RI theatres. She studied and performed in New York City, and toured 40 cities as Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

 Bobbie Steinbach* (Queen Margaret) previously appeared as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, and Maria in 12th Night. She is a Founding Member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project and a Resident Actor with the company, having performed in multiple ASP’s productions, including Cassius in Julius Caesar (Elliot Norton nomination), Henry VIII, The School for Scandal, Phedre, Richard III, Twelfth Night, and All’s Well That Ends Well, among others. She has performed in most Boston area theaters, most recently in the title role of Golda’s Balcony (IRNE Award), Fiddler on the Roof, Tongue of a Bird, andCollected Stories (IRNE Award, Best Actress, Eliot Norton Award Nomination, Outstanding Actress), at New Repertory Theater; and has received multiple IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards.

Fred Sullivan, Jr.* (Duke of Buckingham) is celebrating 12 seasons with Shakespeare on the Common. He has played Capulet, Malvolio, Bottom, Gloucester, and Parolles, the First Gangster in Kiss Me, Kate at the Hatch Shell, and received a Norton Award for Outstanding Actor for his Jaques in As You Like It. He is a 35-season resident actor at Trinity Repertory Company where he has appeared in 130 plays and received Norton and IRNE awards for Outstanding lead actor in Blithe Spirit and His Girl Friday. His Trinity Rep roles include Falstaff, Bottom, Oscar Madison, James Tyrone, Jr, Joe Pitt, Captain Hook, Scrooge and Harold Hill, and he directed Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol, Shooting Star, and Boeing Boeing. Fred is resident director for the Gamm Theatre since 1996 where he has directed 28 productions includingHamlet and Much Ado about Nothing (each twice), and Awake at Sing (Norton Award for Outstanding Production). As an actor at Gamm, he played Donny in American Buffalo, Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale and Mark Rothko in Red. Fred has also performed at NJ Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theatre Center, Berkeley Rep, and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. He teaches acting at Gamm and RISD.

Faran Tahir*(Richard, Duke of Gloucester) returns to Boston where he was first seen as Oberon in the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s very first production of “Free Shakespeare on the Common” — A Midsummer Night’s Dream — at Copley Square.  He has recently played the title role of Othello at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC to rave reviews, and has performed in over 50 roles in major theaters across the US in classical and contemporary roles, including the A.R.T. The Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club.  He has also appeared in 20 films and over 75 television roles. Recent film credits include the President in Elysium (2013), with Matt Damon and Jodi Foster; Escape Plan (2013), starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone; Star Trek (2009); and as the vicious nemesis in Iron Man (2008), opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Tahir’s work on television spans across all genres, with recurring roles on Scandal, Prison Break, Once Upon a Time, 12 Monkeys, American Crime,  Satisfaction, Dallas and Warehouse 13, and guest lead appearances on series such as Shameless, The Magicians, Supergirl, Blacklist, Criminal Minds, Elementary, Supernatural, Lost, NYPD Blue, Grey’s Anatomy, among many others. He is a graduate of the A.R.T Institute for Advance Theatre Training at Harvard University.

Mark Torres* (Hastings) recently was seen at CSC as Roberto Torres in Death and the Maiden. Recent credits include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at Arkansas Repertory Theater. He has worked on Broadway, and at such regional theatres as Trinity Repertory Company, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Shakespeare Festival, Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Plaza Theatre in Dallas, Center Stage in Baltimore, Melody Top Theatre in Milwaukee, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Music Theatre of Connecticut, Ocean State Theatre, The Theatre at Monmouth and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre.  He has also appeared on television and in several films, most recently the thriller Shorecliff.

Brandon Whitehead*  (Lord Stanley) has been seen at CSC as Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost and the Fool in King Lear. Other recent credits include Amiens in As You Like It and Oscar Wilde et al in The Importance of Being Earnest at the GAMM Theater; Matthew Harrison Brady in Inherit the Wind and Mike Francisco in Breaking Legs at Ocean State Theater Company; and Mr. Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors with Tantrum Theatre (Ohio). Before moving to Massachusetts, he spent nearly twenty years working professionally in Seattle performing with ACT (A Christmas CarolJoe EggDr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde), Seattle Repertory Theater (Twelfth NightThe Imaginary Invalid), Intiman (Paradise Lost), Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It Repertory Theater, Village Theater, and many others. Some of his film and television credits include Castle Rock (Hulu), A Bit Of Bad Luck21 And Over, and Leverage.

(*)Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Director Steven Maler is the Founding Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC). At CSC he has been directing Free Shakespeare on the Boston Common productions since 1996, including Love’s Labour’s Lost, King Lear, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Henry V, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Romeo & Juliet. In collaboration with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, he directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the Overture and Incidental Music of Felix Mendelssohn, as well as concert stagings of The Boys from Syracuse and Kiss Me, Kate at Boston’s Hatch Shell. Other CSC works include his critically acclaimed production of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, the world premiere of Jake Broder’s Our American Hamlet, and the world premiere of Robert Brustein’s The Last Will. He directed Peter Eötvös’s operatic treatment of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (U.S. Premiere) and Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face, The Turn of the Screw at New Repertory Theatre, Santaland Diaries and Chay Yew’s Porcelain at SpeakEasy Stage Company, Top Girls and Weldon Rising at Coyote Theatre, and The L.A. Plays by Han Ong at A.R.T. His New York City credits include the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Without You, written by and starring Anthony Rapp. The production has been seen in Boston, Edinburgh, Toronto, London and Seoul. Steve received the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence as well as for Best Production, Twelfth Night; Outstanding Director, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Best Production, Suburbia; Best Solo Performance, John Kuntz’s Starf***ers (which also won Best Solo Performance Award at New York International Fringe Festival). His feature film The Autumn Heart, starring Tyne Daly and Ally Sheedy, was in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

Now entering its 23rd season, CSC’s “Free Shakespeare on the Common” has become an annual Boston tradition, modeled along the lines of “Shakespeare in the Park” in Central Park and the many other free outdoor summer Shakespeare events throughout the country. Beginning in the summer of 1996, CSC Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler collaborated with the City of Boston, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs to present a free outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Copley Square.  This event was described by Ed Siegel of the Boston Globe as “fully engaging, with one of the most diverse audiences ever seen in Boston.” The production was chosen as one of the top ten theatrical events of 1996 by the Boston Globe, and Mr. Maler received the Eliot Norton Award for his outstanding direction.  Carolyn Clay of the Boston Phoenix wrote, “how proud it is for Boston to finally offer free Shakespeare.” Following the success of its first production, CSC presented Romeo and Juliet at the newly renovated Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common in August of 1997. Performing annually at the Parkman Bandstand — centrally located, handicapped-accessible and accessible to all by public transportation — CSC has become one of Boston’s most attended annual arts events.  Each summer CSC welcomes approximately 75,000 people to our shows on the Boston Common, and over the past 22 years CSC has performed for over 1 million audience members.

FRIENDS SECTION RESERVED CHAIRS

“Free Shakespeare on the Common” is made possible each year through a combination of grants, sponsorships, and donations collected through the Friends Section program. Individuals can reserve a chair at a performance of Richard III with a donation of $60-75 per chair, with all proceeds going directly towards the costs of the production. Chairs may be reserved through July 17 — before the season begins — with a donation of $60. Once performances begin on July 18, the minimum donation requirement increases to $75. To reserve chairs, visit our website www.commshakes.org, email info@commshakes.org, or call 617-426-0863.

The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company staff is equipped to assist patrons of all abilities. A limited number of tall chairs, accessible seating areas, assisted-listening devices, and Braille & large print programs are available at each performance. Dates for ASL-Interpreted and Audio-Described, performances will be announced closer in July. Anyone needing special accommodations is encouraged to contact CSC in advance. These requests should be emailed to our Audience Services staff at audienceservices@commshakes.org or call CSC’s main line during regular business hours at 617-426-0863.

This production of “Free Shakespeare on the Common” was made possible by Babson College (Lead Sponsor); WGBH, Xfinity and Ovation TV (Platinum Sponsors); Ricardo Rodriguez and Michael Kelley – Ricardo Rodriguez & Associates(Gold Sponsor);  Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Massachusetts Cultural Council, The Boston Globe, and the National Endowment for the Arts (Silver Sponsors); Improper Bostonian, Highland Street Foundation, Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, and Mix 104.1(Bronze Sponsors); and with support from the Boston Cultural Council and Boston Parks and Recreation.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit theater company founded in 1996, dedicated to artistic excellence, accessibility, and education. CSC’s Free Shakespeare on the Common has served over one million audience members over its 23-year history and has become a beloved summer tradition enjoyed by nearly 75,000 people annually, including last summer’s highly acclaimed production of Romeo and Juliet. In 2013, CSC became the Theatre-in-Residence at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. In addition to the annual Boston Common production, CSC now presents fully staged productions at the Sorenson Center for the Arts at Babson, including the recent Old MoneyDeath and the Maiden, the world premiere of Our American Hamlet and the Elliot Norton Award-winning production of Becket in Brief; “Theatre in the Rough,” semi- staged readings including Fear and Misery in the Third Reich, featuring Tony Shalhoub, Brooke Adams and local actors; as well as “Shakespeare & the Law,” and “Shakespeare & Leadership.” CSC fulfills its educational mission with actor-training programs for pre-professional and professional actors through the summer Apprentice program and CSC2. To learn more about these programs, visit www.commshakes.org.

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