Shows and Events
Milwaukee’s Boulevard Theatre continues its’ 31st season with John Murrell’s Taking Shakespeare.
Fresh off the theatre’s smash October hit of Where the Streetcar Bends the Corner, which wowed hundreds of patrons at Milwaukee’s Plymouth Church, Boulevard stages this Wisconsin premiere in the cozy confines of Plymouth Church’s second-floor Graham Chapel Hall. For further information, call the Boulevard’s 24-hour voice mail at 414-744-5757.
Canadian playwright John Murrell’s comic tutorialTaking Shakespeare debuts on Thursday, February 23 and plays through Sunday, March 26. This Wisconsin premiere relays a tale of soured academia and scores high grades for amusing banter and affecting characters.
TAKING SHAKESPEARE is a shrewdly written theatrical tutorial that revolves around the unlikely pairing of a disillusioned literary professor (“Prof”) and a slacker student (“Murph”), who is obsessed with video games. Murph is the son of the dean of humanities at a small unnamed university. Despite being highly intelligent and having his own set of fresh ideas, the young man is barely passing his courses and shows little interest in his studies. In an attempt to motivate him, his mother sends him to be tutored by her former mentor, the “Prof,” at the burned-out instructor’s apartment. However, “Prof” has come to her own dramatic crossroads. Depressed and disillusioned with her life, she barely functions and has little interest in teaching the cocky young man — or any other student.
But when Murph reveals that in order to pass his English Lit class, he must demonstrate a thorough understanding of Shakespeare’s classic Othello, his reluctant tutor appears strangely thunderstruck by the assignment of this literary portrait of jealousy and regret. The cause for her intellectual paralysis only becomes apparent later in Murrell’s affecting narrative. “Prof” is Murph’s last chance at passing the course and staying in school and he is her last opportunity to retain her position, and her tenure. This unlikely pair begin an uneasy emotional journey together as–together–they work through the famous tragedy of Othello. Along the way, they timorously begin to understand the tragedies in their own lives as they deal with university politics, parental manipulation, regrets from the past, and the uncertainty of the future. The playwright dovetails Shakespeare’s tale of treachery, ambition, and betrayal alongside our modern issues of anti-intellectualism, academic oppression, and cultural malaise with an adroit humor and piercing wit. The artistic result is emotionally affecting, socially troubling and very entertaining.
Milwaukee artists Amy Callahan and Jake Konrath appear as “Prof” and Murph respectively. Ms. Callahan has appeared previously with the Boulevard in Edward Albee’s thorny matrimonial delight, Counting the Ways. She has also appeared with other local companies in such varied pieces as Conor McPherson’s The Weir and John Murphy’s The Country Boy. Mr. Konrath has appeared with Voices Found Repertory Theatre (Coriolanus) and the Sunset Theatre (How to Succeed in Business, Without Really Trying).
Noted local actor, director, and playwright David Flores co-directs Taking Shakespeare. Flores, a powerhouse of talent, lends his classical finesse to staging Murrell’s “classy comedy.” Mr. Flores is well-known to both Milwaukee audiences and local theatrical media, having performed with a majority of Milwaukee’s cornucopia of theatre companies (Skylight Music Theatre, Off The Wall, Windfall Theatre, etc.) as well as portraying leading and key roles in Shakespeare (“Shylock” in The Merchant of Venice, the title role in Richard III, “Parolles” in All’s Well That Ends Well, etc.). Boulevard Theatre’s Artistic Director and founder Mark Bucher contributes his directing skill set. Boulevard stalwart Jaime Jastrab provides technical support. Boulevard Social Media Director Troy Freund and graphic designer Jason Krukowski contribute to the success of both productions.
The comedy showcases new and returning actors and is staged in a clean, simple style that illuminates the play’s luxurious language and concentrates on the author’s delicious dialogue.
If still available, tickets may be purchased at the door (cash only). Call 414-744-5757 for our 24-hour voice mail. Seating is limited.
Patrons are invited to join Boulevard for opening-night receptions for Taking Shakespeare on 2/23.