Peter D. Kramer

The smartest guys (and gals) in the room

In People You Should Know on June 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

There’s so much to love about Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

There’s the setting: a state-of-the-art tent next to the magnificent Boscobel historic home in Garrison with commanding views of the Hudson Highlands.

There’s the timing: On successive Saturdays from mid June to early July, Terry O’Brien (inset) and his merry company of players unveil pyrotechnic retellings of Shakespeare.

And it’s all right here. (I drive 40 miles to get there, but would drive 40 more if that’s where O’Brien & Co. pitched their tent.)

If you’ll allow, I’ll follow the fireworks metaphor a bit.

Each of those opening Saturdays, theatergoers fill with anticipation, not unlike those awaiting a fireworks display. And then comes the boom of “The Comedy of Errors,” which opened last Saturday. (That’s Michael Borrelli and his heavily padded Dromio, Gabra Zackman, in a William Marsh photo.)

Oooooh.

This Saturday, the early summer darkness will be shaken off by the madcap “Around the World in 80 Days.” (Below, Ryan Quinn, Jason O’Connell and Richard Ercole, in a William Marsh photo.)

Ahhhhh.

Next Saturday, it’s the festival’s first take on that unhappy Dane, with the opening of “Hamlet.” (Matthew Amendt, below, in another fine William Marsh photo.)

Oooooh! Ahhhhhh!

O’Brien and his company have been delivering the goods for 24 seasons now and the 25th promises more jaw-dropping performances, more oooh’s and aaaahhh’s, with the same stable of talent to which festivalgoers have become accustomed.

There are the clowns O’Connell and Wesley Mann who will hold forth in the zany “80 Days,” and then turn around and play Claudius and the gravedigger in “Hamlet.”

And Larchmont’s Zackman, hilarious as one of the ill-used Dromios in “Comedy of Errors,” will change gears and play Hamlet’s put-upon mother, Gertrude. Talk about range.

Time doesn’t stand still at Boscobel. These first boom-filled weekends see the Rose Garden in full bloom. By the time the last shells explode on Labor Day, the fruit trees will be laden.

Artists who are newer to the fold, including Borrelli and Cortlandt’s Christian Jacobs, are stepping up to claim their share of the spotlight. (It’ll be a long time before I forget their indelible performances in last summer’s “Bomb-itty,” the hip-hop take on “The Comedy of Errors.”)

This summer, Cold Spring’s Lucky Gretzinger steps up into a larger role, a welcome addition to the troupe.

In their capable hands (under the direction of O’Brien, Christopher V. Edwards and Kurt Rhoads), the poetry of Shakespeare — and Jules Verne, in the case of “80 Days” — comes to life on a well-worn bit of lawn.

Ooooh.

Tickets, directions and details at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival website.

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