“Royals” is the theme of Actors’ Theatre of Columbus’ 39th season, which opens May 21 in Schiller Park.
The German Village-based theater company will perform two Shakespeare plays, “King Lear” (May 21 to June 14) and “Queen Margaret” (July 16 to Aug. 9), plus Simon Levy’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (June 18 to July 12). The season will close with William Congreve’s “The Way of the World” (Aug. 13 to Sept. 6).
“I think that there’s a sort of fantasy to live in that 1 percent-type of environment,” said Philip J. Hickman, artistic director of Actors’ Theatre. “And I think that these plays, something like ‘The Great Gatsby,’ sort of explores what it’s like to achieve that dream and what it might cost.”
“King Lear,” one of Shakespeare’s most noted works, tells the tale of pre-Roman legend Leir of Britain.
“The Great Gatsby,” adapted from a book written in 1925, is a tale about decadent parties and contrasting idealism and hedonism on Long Island, New York, during the “Roaring Twenties,” it also is a cautionary tale about the American dream.
Perhaps lesser known are “Queen Margaret,” to be directed by Hickman, and “The Way of the World.”
Actors’ Theatre’s performance of “Queen Margaret” is the version edited by Jeanie O’Hare that premiered in England in 2018.
“Queen Margaret of Anjou was one of the most powerful queens in English history and ran the country while her husband (King Henry VI) was ill and wasn’t a very effective king,” Hickman said.
“The Way of the World,” by William Congreve, is a “pretty classic Restoration comedy,” Hickman said, referring to the period between 1660 to 1710.
“It was very popular in its day, and it’s still very funny,” he said. “It’s a story of young love between a young man who’s trying to move up in the work and a young woman who is going to come into some money. But there’s a very modern sensibility to the comedy.”
Jodi Marmion, new president of the Actors’ Theatre’s board of trustees, said she is looking forward to this year’s lineup because it has “something for everybody.”
“We want to bring classical theater to the 21st century,” she said. “Actors’ Theatre has been working hard in the past few years to bring more content and doing more throughout the entire year, not just the summer, but obviously, our main focus is the summer. That’s the meat of our work.
“We’re very excited to bring contemporary new works adapted from the classics,” Marmion said.