NCShakes, a professional theater company designated as North Carolina’s official Shakespeare company, opens its 34th season this weekend with an interpretation of Shakespeare’s final play, “The Tempest.”
The play runs Sept. 18 through Oct. 3 at High Point Theatre located at 220 E. Commerce Ave. in downtown High Point.
Taking theater-goers on a magical journey to Prospero’s isle, “The Tempest” features a love story between Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, who has never seen a man other than her father, and the noble Ferdinand, who has just shipwrecked on the island. “The Tempest” is more than a play about magic — it is a theater experience that traffics in magic to search the timeless issues of the heart… forgiveness, justice, mercy and, of course, love.
Jim and Debbie Millis make their debut as producers, providing additional resources to invest in costumes, sets and sound. By offering enhanced compensation, they have also made it possible for NCShakes to bring in top-quality professional Equity actors to take on the play’s demanding roles.
“The Millis’ generous support of this production offers us the opportunity to pursue the artistic goals we otherwise could not,” says Pedro Silva, NCShakes’ managing director. “The aim, of course, is to have a distinctive production that will captivate and inspire our audiences.”
Headlining the cast will be Jack Wetherall as Prospero. He will be remembered by some for his recurring role as Uncle Vic in the Showtime hit series, “Queer As Folk.” On stage, his career has spanned more than three decades during which he has played major Shakespeare roles such as Henry V at The Stratford Festival in Canada, Chorus in “Henry V” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Orsino in “As You Like It” at the Old Globe Theatre, Macbeth at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” at the Long Wharf Theatre.
Joining Wetherall will be a company of Equity actors that includes Nikki Coble as Miranda, Christopher Hirsh as Ferdinand, Trip Plymale as Trinculo, Graham Smith as Stephano, Kevin Bergen as Antonio, Harold Surratt as Gonzalo, David Heron as Sebastian, David Sitler as Caliban, Warren Jackson as Ariel and Kim Sullivan as Alonso. The acting ensemble will include Shu-nan Chu as the Boatswain and student interns Savada J. Gilmore, Emily Kester, Katie Vohwinkel, Kimberly Weinkle, Rebecca Bruder, Matt Palmer and Stephen Spencer.
Steve Umberger, NCShakes’ resident director, will direct “The Tempest” for the second time in his distinguished career. The company previously produced “The Tempest” in 1986, 1994 and 2002.
ForeWords will be offered at 7:15 p.m. immediately preceding the Saturday evening performances on Sept. 18, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2. Michael Huie, NCShakes actor and outreach education director, will lead these preview discussions upstairs in the High Point Theatre Art Galleries. Admission is free to anyone with a ticket for the evening performance.
AfterWords will be offered immediately following the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee performances on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. Audience members are invited to gather in the theater’s back rows for a talk-back discussion with members of the acting company. Audience members often ask questions about the play, the particular production and theater/acting in general; comment on their favorite – or least favorite – aspects of the show; and ask questions about parts of the play they didn’t understand.
The Nancy Lyles Classics in Context will be offered on Sept. 26 when two English professors make presentations about the play during a brunch before the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. The professors are Dr. Bethany Sinnott of Catawba College and Dr. David J. Bradshaw of Warren Wilson College. The brunch begins at noon at NCShakes’ new Spirit Center operations facility, 807 W. Ward Ave. in High Point. There is a $30 fee for the brunch that does not include play tickets. To register, call NCShakes at 336-841-2273 x226.
NCShakes is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. This production of “The Tempest” is also made possible by sponsorship from New Breed and co-sponsorship from Wright of Thomasville, The High Point Enterprise and 88.5 WFDD.
Tickets for most shows are $31, $23 for students and seniors. Discounts are available Sept. 18-19 at the 88.5 WFDD Preview Performances and on Sept. 23 at The High Point Enterprise Community Performance and Pay What You Can. To purchase tickets, visit www.highpointtheatre.com or call 336-887-3001, Monday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m. For all ticket orders of 10 or more and all school groups, including home-school groups of two or more, wishing to attend public performances or 10 a.m. SchoolFest matinees, contact the NCShakes administrative office at 336-841-2273 x226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for discounts.
For more information about the play or the professional theater company, visit www.ncshakes.org.