Julian and Margaret sit down with Midsommer Flight’s Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Beth Wolf. They chat about Beth’s journey in the Chicago theatre scene, the genesis of Midsommer Flight, and New Year’s resolutions. They also show off their best audition monologues and talk about the Dos and Don’ts of auditioning for Shakespeare.
Julian and Margaret talk about how they fill their well when they are in between acting projects, and then take a field trip to Gross Park to interview the cast and director of Hamlet.
Julian interviews Elizabeth Rentfro, Midsommer Flight ensemble member and Resident Music Director. Their lively conversation hits upon everything from music in Shakespeare’s plays, to Elizabeth’s experiences creating music from classical text for Midsommer Flight, to Paul Rudd.
Listen to our newest venture!
Midsommer Flight invites you to join Chicago actors Julian Stroop and Margaret Kellas on an audio tour of Shakespeare in Chicago. They cover everything from text work and history to modern day practice and current trends for Shakespeare nerds and newbies alike. Enjoy performances and interviews from guest artists, and some new perspectives on some very old plays. Also stay up to date with information about Midsommer Flight’s performance and events to catch some free public Shakespeare in Chicago.
Episodes are released monthly and will be available through this blog and on iTunes.
Midsommer Flight to return for sixth season of bringing free Shakespeare to Chicago’s parks
2017 productions to include an eight-week summer run of Hamlet and holiday season perennial Twelfth Night
Midsommer Flight, a professional not-for-profit theatre company that was recently named one of five Finalists for the League of Chicago Theatres Emerging Theatre Award, has announced its sixth season of bringing Shakespeare to Chicagoans for free in selected Chicago parks. The 2017 season includes an eight-week summer schedule of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in four city parks for runs of two weekends per park, and the company’s annual tradition of performing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night during the holiday season. The comedy will also be performed for free in a park, albeit indoors – in the Lincoln Park Conservatory – for three weekends, from November 30 – December 17, 2017. This is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Night Out in the Parks initiative that provides world-class performances in Chicago’s neighborhood parks throughout the year.
Kick-off picnic – Saturday, June 17
The company will begin its 2017 season with a free “Season Kick-Off Picnic” in Lincoln Park on Saturday, June 17, 2017 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM. This free event will give Midsommer Flight patrons and community members the opportunity to mingle with ensemble and summer cast, enjoy a BYO picnic in the park, and enjoy a short program including a stage combat demonstration and a Q&A with cast and crew of HAMLET. The picnic will be held in the park on Stockton Avenue between the Lincoln Park Cultural Center and the Zoo (official address is the Lincoln Park Cultural Center at 2045 N Lincoln Park West).
This summer’s production – the tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark – will be performed in an abridged 100-minute version that will capture the murderous intrigues of the royal family – complete enough for those familiar with the play and accessible for newcomers to it. The play’s most famous lines – including some of Shakespeare’s most frequently quoted, such as “To be or not to be,” “the play’s the thing” and “To thine own self be true” – will be delightfully present for those who know the lines are coming and for those who will be surprised to hear them in this context. The play will be presented on the ground, with natural lighting (curtain times are early enough to complete performances before sunset) and without amplification, just as in Shakespeare’s day.
Hamlet will be directed by Beth Wolf, the company’s founder and producing artistic director, who has directed all the company’s productions since its founding in 2012. Wolf says “We’re delighted to be presenting Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, and making it available and affordable for all to see. While our performances are played in daylight and without amplification, just as they were at the Globe Theatre, our sets and costumes will give the piece contemporary parallels and relevance.”
Her cast includes Samual Cheeseman (Hamlet), Jared Dennis (Claudius), Stephen Fedo (Polonius), Morayo Orija (Gertrude), Bianca Phipps (Ophelia), Joe Sergio (Laertes), Ian Michael Minh (Horatio), Mark Huddle (Ghost/Player King), Adam Habben (Marcellus/Osric/Lucianus/ Gravedigger 2), Jesse Montoya (Rosencrantz), Adam Rice (Guildenstern), Emily Renee Shimskey (Barnardo/Sailor/Ambassador/ Player Queen/Gravedigger1) and Erick Rivera (Musician/Composer). Elizabeth Rentfro will be music director and vocal coach.
The design team includes Chris Smith and Maureen Yasko (fight directors) and Jeremiah Barr (scenic designer). Robin Waisanen will be stage manager and Meredith Ernst will be assistant director.
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Beth Wolf
July 8 – August 27, 2017
Saturdays at 6 PM and Sundays at 2 PM
Venues vary by week:
- July 8-9 @ Lincoln Park (2045 N Lincoln Park West, 60614)
- July 15-16 and 22-23 @ Touhy Park (7348 N Paulina, 60626)
- July 29-30 and August 5-6 @ Schreiber Park (1552 W Schreiber, 60626)
- August 12-13 and 19-20 @ Gross Park (2708 W Lawrence, 60625)
- August 26-27 @ Lincoln Park (2045 N Lincoln Park West, 60614)
All performances are free.
Live music will be presented a half hour prior to each performance. Audiences are encouraged to come early and bring a picnic to enjoy this free programming. Advance reservations are not offered – seating is first come, first served, and audience members can bring their own blankets or chairs. Show information on website at www.midsommerflight.com, including detailed schedule and info about directions and parking at each park.
This coming winter, Midsommer Flight will stage Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for the third consecutive holiday season, complete with its acclaimed musical score. As it was the previous two years, Twelfth Night will be presented in the Show House room at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 Stockton Dr. The 2017 dates are November 30 – December 17, 2017. Curtain times are Thursdays – Sundays @ 7:30 PM. The cast and crew of Twelfth Night will be announced at a later date. Tickets are FREE but reservations are recommended due to limited seating – reservations will be available through the Midsommer Flight website beginning October 1.
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Beth Wolf
Original Music by Elizabeth Rentfro and Alex Mauney
November 30 – December 17, 2017
Show House room at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 Stockton Dr., Chicago
Thursdays – Sundays @ 7:30 PM
Tickets are FREE but reservations are recommended due to limited seating – reservations will be available through the Midsommer Flight website (www.midsommerflight.com) beginning October 1.
Midsommer Flight is thrilled to announce the cast of AS YOU LIKE IT. These fifteen talented actors will spend the summer touring to four Chicago parks, bringing free Shakespeare into Chicago communities.
The cast features Midsommer Flight ensemble members Adam Habben (Touchstone) and Elizabeth Rentfro (Jaques), along with returning guest artists Margaret Kellas (Audrey), Ian Michael Minh (Oliver, Lord, Musician), and Erick Rivera (Amiens). Newcomers to Midsommer Flight include Emily Demko (Rosalind), Charlee Cotton (Celia), Eric Duhon (Orlando), and more. The full cast list is below.
With rehearsals starting next week, Midsommer Flight is excited to jump into another summer in the parks. We hope to see you at the show!
in alphabetical order:
Charlee Cotton (Celia)
Emily Demko (Rosalind)
Eric Duhon (Orlando)
Richard Eisloeffel (Silvius, Second Lord)
Adam Gianforte (Le Beau, Lord/Musician, Jaques de Boys)
Sonia Goldberg (Corin, First Lord)
Adam Habben (Touchstone)
Margaret Kellas (Audrey, Lady at Court)
Maggie Miller (Adam, Oliver Mar-text)
Ian Michael Minh (Oliver, Lord/Musician)
Alexis Randolph (Phebe, Lady at Court)
Elizabeth Rentfro (Jaques)
Erick Rivera (Amiens)
Shane Roberie (Charles, Lord/Musician)
James Sparling (Duke Frederick, Duke Senior)
What an incredible year we’ve had at Midsommer Flight! Upon seeing Twelfth Night, the NewCity Stage critic made a thrilling observation: “With this production, Midsommer Flight marks its arrival as an artistic force.” I am so proud of everything the company has accomplished this year, and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who was a part of our major growth and exciting programming in 2015 — from artists to audiences, park personnel to consultants, social media followers to donors, and anyone else in between.
As many of you already know, this was a year of “firsts” for Midsommer Flight. Our summer tour of Macbeth expanded to Lincoln Park for the first time, bringing our performance venue total up to four parks and reaching a record audience of over 1,200 people. The Fourth Walsh called it “a fresh, vivid look at a Shakespeare classic,” and audiences cheered at the thrilling sword fights and intense drama.
We also brought Shakespeare in the Conservatory to Chicago for the first time ever this holiday season. Our “bright and joyful” Twelfth Night delighted audiences in the gorgeous Show House Room of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and was highly recommended by every critic who attended, including Chicago Reader, NewCity Stage, and The Fourth Walsh. Another first for the company was recording a Cast Album of the show’s original music, which many audience members were excited to buy after seeing the show (and which is still available online!).
We aim to continue raising the bar in 2016, and your financial support at any level can make a big difference — individual contributions comprise almost 75% of our income. With just a few days left before year-end, I’d like to invite you to make a tax-deductible donation by Thursday, December 31. Make your secure donation here.
Thank you for being a part of Midsommer Flight’s family in 2015, and I hope you’ll consider a gift to help Chicago’s newest “artistic force” grow in 2016 and beyond. Thanks and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!
Producing Artistic Director