By Kenneth Jones
Cymbeline, Shakespeare's late-career romance that is
often billed as a kind of fairy tale, begins the 21st
season of Chicago Shakespeare Theater Sept. 1.
CST artistic director Barbara Gaines directs the circa
1609 play about "love, fidelity and deception."
Performed in Chicago Shakespeare's Courtyard Theater
on Navy Pier, Cymbeline opens Sept. 9 after previews,
and will continue to Nov. 11.
In the adventure, according to CST, "Imogen, who
in defiance of her father, King Cymbeline, secretly
marries the poor, but worthy, Posthumus. When Cymbeline
discovers her marriage and banishes her husband, Imogen
— disguised as a boy — sets off into the
Welsh countryside in search of him. The adventuresome
journey to the couple's reunion is populated with colorful
characters, a wicked stepmother, sword fights and sleeping
potions — all the elements of a wondrous tale
of love lost and found."
The play — at turns bloody and comic — has
popped up on the slates of theatres around the U.S.
recently. Lincoln Center Theater is staging it this
fall with Mark Lamos at the helm; Shakespeare Theater
of New Jersey recently produced it; Declan Donnellan's
production for Cheek By Jowl has been seen internationally,
including in May at Brooklyn Academy of Music; and Alabama
Shakespeare Theater will stage it in 2008.
King Cymbeline will be played by Chicago actor Larry
Yando, who spent three years performing the role of
Scar in the national touring production of Broadway's
The Lion King.
The villainous Iachimo is played by Juan Chioran, who
appeared in the national tour of Broadway's Kiss of
the Spider Woman and CST's The Three Musketeers and
Chaon Cross also returns to the CST stage — where
she was last seen as Cressida in Barbara Gaines' production
of Troilus and Cressida — to play Imogen (a role
considered by some scholars to be the greatest female
character Shakespeare wrote, according to CST).
The cast of Cymbeline also includes Brad Armacost as
Caius Lucius; Shanesia Davis as the Queen; William Dick
as Cloten's First Lord and Philario; Lisa Dodson as
Soothsayer; Stephen Louis Grush as Guiderius; Joel Hatch
as Pisanio; Dennis Kelly as Belarius; John McFarland
as Storyteller and Jupiter; Jeff Parker as Cloten's
Second Lord and Frenchman; Ernest Perry, Jr. as Cornelius
and Jailer; John Sanders as Sicillius; Joe Sikora as
Posthumus; Brian Sills as Cloten; and Derrick Trumbly
as Arviragus. Scott Butler, Katy Carolina Collins, Rian
Jairell, Abigail Misko, Nick Pilarski, Sarah Taylor,
Jeff Trainor, and Douglas S. Tyler complete the ensemble.
Original music is composed by Rokko Jans and Lindsay
Jones, who also provides the sound design. The creative
team also includes scenic designer Michael Philippi,
costume designer Susan E. Mickey, lighting designer
Philip S. Rosenberg, fight choreographer Robin McFarquhar
and wig and make-up designer Melissa Veal.
Criss Henderson is executive director of CST.