CEDAR CITY, UT — The Utah Shakespeare Festival recently announced the casting of the first ten actors for the 2012 season. All are familiar faces, having appeared at the Festival in the past. Actors slated to appear thus far are Jacqueline Antaramian, Monica Bell, Danforth Comins, David Ivers, Martin Kildare, Dan Kremer, Kymberly Mellen, Roderick Peeples, Melinda Pfundstein, and Brian Vaughn. A complete casting list will be available soon at www.bard.org.
“These ten actors, which come from all over the country, are representative of the strongest talent in our field,” said David Ivers, artistic director. “Collectively, they bring a vitality and accomplishment that deepens our ability to produce world class theatre.”
“Please watch for more exciting news regarding casting coming soon,” added Brian Vaughn, artistic director. “You are certain to see many familiar faces, and we are eager to introduce you to several new members of our acting company in 2012.”
Jacqueline Antaramian is appearing this year as Mary, the much-maligned Queen of Scots, in Mary Stuart, Tamora in Titus Andronicus, and Mistress Ford, one of the merry wives, in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
She last appeared at the Festival in 2006 as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and Mistress Quickly in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Monica Bell has not appeared at the Festival in over two decades, but audiences will quickly remember her as she fills the 2012 roles of Elizabeth in Mary Stuart and the adult Jean Louise Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
In 1989, she appeared as Perdita in The Winter’s Tale, the hilarious Toinette in The Imaginary Invalid, and the scheming Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. In previous years, she played roles as diverse as Desdemona in Othello, Imogen in Cymbeline, Celia in As You Like It, Adriana in The Comedy of Errors, Elizabeth in Richard III, Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, and Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Bell may have been speaking for many of the actors, when she said: “ In a way, it feels like coming home again. I remember the Utah audiences’ beautiful sense of connection and proud ownership of the theatre. I really felt their energy when I was in performance. The excitement was always palpable. This season is a lovely opportunity for me to come home again.”
Danforth Comins will be at the Festival this year in the monumental title role of Hamlet, which is scheduled as one of two later openings on September 22, along with Stones in His Pockets.
He appeared here in 2004 as Sheriff Joe Sutter in The Spitfire Grill and the Porter in Macbeth. In 2001 he played the roles of Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Trebonius and Pindarus in Julius Caesar.
David Ivers, a long-time actor at the Festival and now artistic director, will put on his acting hat this year in the hilarious title role of Scapin, as well as Jake in the popular return engagement of Stones in His Pockets.
In the previous twenty years he has played nearly forty roles at the Festival, including Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale and Tony Wendice in Dial M for Murder last year, Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing and Clown #1 in The 39 Steps in 2010, and such varied roles as Jaques in As You Like It, Homer Bolton in Morning’s at Seven, Truffaldino in The Servant of Two Masters, Caliban in The Tempest, and Garry Lejeune in Noises Off! He has also directed three shows at the Festival: Romeo and Juliet in 2012, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) in 2009, and Cyrano de Bergerac in 2008.
Martin Kildare is returning to the Festival this year to play the wise and loving father, Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Leicester in Mary Stuart.
In previous years at the Festival he has played such roles as Iago in Othello and Lynn Sanderson in Harvey (2002), Hamlet in Hamlet (1997), and Cleante in The Imaginary Invalid and Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie (1989).
“I never think that I have ‘dream roles,’” said Martin in discussing the upcoming season. “But when David [Ivers] and Brian [Vaughn] called to talk to me about playing Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird, I realized I do have dream roles, I’m just too superstitious to admit it. To get to come back to the Festival and work on both stages, on great roles, in relevant plays, for great audiences, with great actors, directors, and designers—what more could you ask for?
Dan Kremer will take on the monumental title role of Titus Andronicus this summer, as well as Burleigh in Mary Stuart.
In three previous years at the Festival, he has played Morrie Schwartz in Tuesdays with Morrie (2009), Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker and Lear in King Lear (2007), and Doctor Caius in The Merry Wives of Windsor and a Clown and the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father in Hamlet (2006).
Kymberly Mellen is returning to the Festival this year to play Gertrude in Hamlet, Mistress Quickly in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Madame Thenardier in Les Misérables.
She is probably most remembered for her memorable portrayals of Hippolyta/Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011 and Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth in 2010. She also played Queen Elizabeth in Richard III (2011).
Mellen is particularly excited to be playing such varied roles this year, including Madame Thenardier. “What actress doesn’t want to black out some teeth, get a disgusting hairdo, act drunk and disorderly, abuse small children, and be paid to sing swear words,” she said. “This will be the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”
Roderick Peeples will appear on the Festival stages this year as the hilarious and beloved character, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Paulet in Mary Stuart.
Past roles at the Festival include Friar Lawence in Romeo and Juliet, The Duke of Buckingham in Richard III, and Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011 and Fluellen in Henry V and Duke Senior in As You Like It in 2009.
Melinda Pfundstein, who has appeared in numerous roles at the Festival, will perform this year as Fantine in Les Misérables and Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Many Festival-goers will remember her for her acclaimed portrayals last year of Hermione in The Winter’s Tale and Margot Wendice in Dial M for Murder. She has also appeared in such roles as Miss Jane Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (2010), Biddy in Great Expectations (2010), Claire Holmes in The Secret Garden (2009), Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof (2008), Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac (2008), Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (2004), Martha Jefferson in 1776 (2003), Gloria Thorpe in Damn Yankees (1999), and many others.
Brian Vaughn, actor and Festival artistic director, has appeared in many roles at the Festival since 1991. This year, he has been tapped to perform as Javert in Les Misérables and Charlie in Stones in His Pockets.
In past years, he has played such roles as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale and Harold Hill in The Music Man (2011); Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps (2010); King Henry V in Henry V (2009); Victor Fleming in Moonlight and Magnolias and Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac (2008); Gordon Miller in Room Service and Hamlet in Hamlet (2006); Arthur in Camelot (2005); Hotspur in Henry IV Part One and Smudge in Forever Plaid (2004); Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing and Edward Rutledge in 1776 (2003); Sandy Tyrell in Hay Fever, and Cloten in Cymbeline (2002); and many more dating back to his first year at the Festival appearing in The Greenshow. He has also directed Dial M for Murder in 2011 and Greater Tuna in 2010.
“We are thrilled to have these talented actors returning to the Festival for another year,” said R. Scott Phillips, Festival executive director. “They are all consummate professionals who bring life and emotion to our stages and who our audiences recognize and appreciate for their great artistry.”
Tickets are now on sale for the 2012 season at www.bard.org and 1-800-PLAYTIX (800-752-9849). The season runs from June 21 to October 20.