The Winter’s Tale at the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare

The Winter’s Tale opens Great Lakes Theater’s 51st Season and this year’s Fall Repertory.  I took in a viewing of Friday evening’s preview performance, and it was nothing less than magical.  The Winter’s Tale is Great Lakes Theater at its very best and William Shakespeare at his most ingenious.

The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s romance plays, also called tragicomedies.  It is considered, by many, to be one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” because despite the intense psychological drama in the first act, the second act is quite comedic and offers a happy ending.  And The Winter’s Tale is also unique in that it is the only Shakespeare play to skip sixteen years between acts.

For the most part,  is a story of insane jealousy and vengeance.  Leontes, King of Sicilia, and Polixenes, King of Bohemia, are childhood friends.  But when Leontes suspects his pregnant wife, Queen Hermione, of having an affair with Polixenes, he takes dire steps to exact his revenge.  He orders that Polixenes be poisoned, Hermione imprisoned, and the baby exiled.  The second act continues with the story of what becomes of that baby, a daughter named Perdita.

The Winter’s Tale is a neat play.  It starts out with a dark, intense mood, continues with some bizarre, yet humorous, scenarios, and ends on a much happier note with hope for a brighter future.  Shakespeare tends to be known most for his tragedies and his comedies, but in The Winter’s Tale, we get a good mix of both.

In typical GLT fashion, the set is absolutely magnificent.  It’s like a beautiful, giant time piece that seems to come to life, in its own way.  The costumes are beautiful and very elegant.  And the actors are as professional, mesmerizing, and convincing, as always.  You just don’t get theatre this good in many cities, but this is not just any city… this is Cleveland, home of Great Lakes Theater.  If you have never seen The Winter’s Tale, now is your chance.  If you have, come see it Great Lakes Theater style.  I highly recommend it.

The Winter’s Tale will run through November 4 in the beautiful Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.  Great Lakes Theater’s Fall Repertory will continue with Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid (October 5 – November 3).  The annual production of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol will return for the holiday season (November 30 – December 23).  And 2013 will bring Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit (February 22 – March 10), Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (March 29 – April 14) and Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls (May 1 – June 23).

Now in its 51st year, Great Lakes Theater continues to offer some of the highest quality theater in the nation.  For more information about Great Lakes Theater, The Winter’s Tale, or GLT’s exciting 2012-2013 Season, please refer to its website at www.GreatLakesTheater.org.  For more information about PlayhouseSquare, please visit www.PlayhouseSquare.org.

– Christopher S. Musselman

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