November 18, 2015 (Memphis, TN) – – Embracing the joy and mystery of the season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s fairy tale staging of William Shakespeare’s heroic comedy All’s Well That Ends Well continues its eighth performance season: Celebration 400.
All’s Well That Ends Well will run December 10-20 in Dixon Gallery & Gardens’ Winegardner Auditorium and will honor the company’s founding Board member and namesake of its Education Fund, Mrs. Barbara B. Apperson.
The production is sponsored by Virginia Apperson and Pete Williams III, Chip and Brooke Apperson, John and Lacy Apperson, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Rose M. Johnston, John and Katherine Dobbs, and Independent Bank.
Directed by TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary (most recently at the Dixon: Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, and Hamlet), All’s Well That Ends Well is a seasonal fairy tale of faith, forgiveness, and love in this production that will gravitate toward toward the play’s mysticism. Young Helena goes on a hero’s quest in search of love; and, armed with the healing power of her deceased father, she conceives of an astonishing plan that breathes life into all around her and wins the heart of the boy.
All’s Well That Ends Well features a professional, Equity ensemble from around the country and Memphis.
Returning to TSC are Isaac Anderson* (Romeo and Juliet) as Parolles, Brian Sheppard* (Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew) as Lavatch, Stuart Heyman (As You Like It, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew) as LaFew, Joey Shaw* (Romeo and Juliet) as the King, Stephanie Shine* as Countess, and Michael Khanlarian (As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Twelfth Night) as Dumaine I.
New to the company this season are Lydia Barnett-Mulligan* as Helena, Bradley Karel as Bertram, Jeanna Juleson as the Widow, Caitlin McWethy as Diana, and Heather Roberts as Dumaine II.
The design team includes Memphians Rebecca Bailey Klepko (costumes), Brian Ruggaber (scenic and properties), Jeremy Allen Fisher (lighting), and Barry Gilmore (music arranger/live hammered dulcimer and strings). The stage manager is Melissa A. Nathan*, with assistant Ashley J. Nickas.
Inspired by the artwork of Maxfield Parrish, the production features a neo-classical design found only in the imagination, including flowing costumes of era-less antiquity that combine to create a time of both structured and earthly beauty.
The story launches itself from the recent deaths of two fathers, prompting the King of France to take the only son (Bertram) of one of the fathers as royal ward in his Parisian court. Six months earlier, the only daughter (Helena) of a famous physician is made ward to Bertram’s mother (the Countess) when her father dies. The two teenagers, Bertram and Helena, have grown up and lived together, prompting both, though Helena with far greater articulation, to fall in love with each other.
The King is dying of a fistula, and he has recently waived off all doctors in accepting his death. Helena, with the Countess’ admittance, flies to the Court to heal the King with her father’s mystical powers. In so doing, she receives whatever she wishes from the King. She chooses for a husband Bertram, who is made to marry Helena against his spoken wish. Angered at being made to marry while a minor and also forced to stay home from the Florentine wars, Bertram and his strutting braggart of a friend Parolles escape to the battlefields and Italian women, leaving behind what would seem on the surface to be an unbreakable riddle for Helena to solve if she ever hopes of gaining him as a husband.
Journeying to Italy by herself and in disguise, employing newfound confederates Diana and her mother there, manipulating a bed trick with Bertram and announcing her own false death, Helena sets the stage for a final act before a confused King that blossoms with rebirth and presages the redemption of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale.
The nucleus of the story is taken from a nearly 300-year-old Italian book of novellas titled The Decameron by Boccaccio. He creates a book that treats on multiple aspects of love as written by seven young women and three young men over ten days while in seclusion outside Florence to escape the plague. Shakespeare, however, invents most of the supporting characters who lend both gravitas and comedy to the main theme, and, in the case of Parolles, a singular sub-plot of shame and redemption.