Shakespeare festival starts with comedy

Kingsmen present 'Merry Wives' in style of '60s sitcom

Lauren Zbylski is Mistress Ford and Hannah Tamminen is Mistress Page in "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – June 13, 2019) The 23rd Annual Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival will start on a light note with a staging of the comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” 

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will present the play at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from June 28 through July 14 in Kingsmen Park on the Thousand Oaks campus of California Lutheran University.

“The Merry Wives of Windsor”centers on the exploits of Sir John Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comic characters. In a plot to create a comfortable retirement for himself, Falstaff attempts to seduce the wives of two wealthy men. The wives, two of the most dynamic women in all of Shakespeare’s comedies, hilariously foil the knight’s attempts, leading to outrageous consequences. 

There aren’t any kings, princes or other royalty among the characters, a distinctive feature that has led scholars to call it Shakespeare’s “blue collar comedy.”

“I've asked the cast and crew to think about the great old sitcoms from the late ‘60s like “Gilligan's Island,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Get Smart.” The night will feel like a return to that style — big, fun, farcical and, above all, accessible to everyone,” said director Kevin P. Kern. “From the opening theme song, through the crazy fights and chases, to the musical ending, this production will be fun for Shakespeare buffs AND sitcom fans.”

This is the sixth Kingsmen production Kern has directed. The Cal Lutheran alumnus made his directorial debut with the festival in 2008 with “As You Like It” and most recently directed “Love’s Labour’s Lost” in 2017. He is a veteran actor with Kingsmen and is the former director of the Apprentice Company and Summer Theatre Camp. He is the founding artistic director of Shakespeare at the Castle and chair of the Department of Theatre at the University of Mount Union in Ohio.

Kingsmen newcomers Hannah Tamminen and Lauren Zbylski are cast as Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. Returning Kingsmen Company members Ted Barton, Michael Faulkner and Jason Rennie play Sir John Falstaff, Master Ford and Master Fenton.

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran. 

General admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and over and active military, $15 for students 18 and over with ID, and free for children. Lawn boxes, which accommodate four to six people, are $90 to $110.

Festival grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for pre-show picnicking and entertainment. For more information and tickets, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452.

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