Shakin' It Up at Cincy Shakes: Year 17

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips, says, "Secrets can be good and bad." But there's one less secret today, now that he's announced the company's 17th season, eight productions, kicking off in July.—-

The theme is secrets, summarized in the line, "What lies beneath."

Works by William Shakespeare include Much Ado About Nothing (featuring Bruce Cromer and Sherman Fracher, CSC regulars who starred in The Lion in Winter last September); The Merry Wives of Windsor (a great comedy for the holidays, featuring CSC's comic star Matt Johnson as the irrepressible Sir John Falstaff); the great tragedy Julius Caesar (in a "cross-gender" staging featuring many of CSC's female performers in roles traditionally played by men); and the "twins" comedy, Two Gentlemen of Verona.

In addition, CSC is on its final march to present the entire canon of Shakespeare's plays by its 20th season in 2013-14: They'll do one per year to cover the four that have yet to reach their stage. This year it will be King John. (The remaining works are Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Richard II.)

In addition to the works by Shakespeare, CSC will offer Noel Coward's witty 1941 comedy Blithe Spirit as a summer "fling." The season also features two excellent adaptations, one of Dracula by Steven Dietz (whose Becky's New Car is currently running at Ensemble Theatre) and another of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Jon Jory (the former artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville). As an added Halloween bonus, Dracula will star former CSC regular Giles Davies in the title role; he excels as creepy characters, so he'll be in his element for this production. Finally, CSC promises an interesting "bonus" at the end of the season, a new adaptation of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, created and performed by the acting company.

Here's the rundown of shows with dates and in chronological order:

Blithe Spirit (July 16-Aug. 8)

Much Ado About Nothing (Sept. 3-26)

Dracula (Oct. 14-Nov. 7)

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Nov. 27-Jan. 3, 2011)

King John (Jan. 14-30, 2011)

Pride and Prejudice (Feb. 18-March 13, 2011)

Julius Caesar (March 24-April 23, 2011)

The Two Gentlemen of Verona (May 6-29, 2011)

The Canterbury Tales (June 2011)

Subscriptions are now on sale: 513-381-2273. Single tickets for shows will be available starting June 1. For more info, go to

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