By Diana Saenger
The Old Globe Theatre’s Artistic Director Barry Edelstein will achieve an innovative first this month when he makes his Old Globe directorial debut with Shakespeare’s mesmerizing “The Winter’s Tale.” The show will also be the first time in more than a decade that a Shakespearean production will take the Globe’s indoor stage.
Edelstein, a stage director, producer, author, educator and recognized leading authority on the works of Shakespeare in the United States, is very fond of this particular Shakespeare play. “I love being around ‘The Winter’s Tale’ because it’s so magical and moving,” Edelstein said. “And being here for a while now, I get a sense the community is really interested in getting a look at Shakespeare under artificial light.”
Due to its mix of humor and drama, “The Winter’s Tale” is labeled one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays.” It centers on the King of Sicily, Leontes, suspected affair between his wife, Hermione, and his best friend, Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. Could Leontes be so cruel as to imprison his pregnant wife and order the baby killed? Luckily, there’s much comic relief in the acts that follow this dramatic cliffhanger.
“ ‘The Winter’s Tale’ has been my favorite Shakespeare play for a long time,” Edelstein said. “It’s redemptive and a magical ending is a big reason. Also, it has so many things I love about Shakespeare — there’s the tragic serious drama, then the second act is a light, beguiling and funny comedy as things come together and bring us to a third place that’s different than anything else he wrote.”
This production of “The Winter’s Tale” has a new musical score by Michael Torke, who’s scored everything from plays to operas and even music for the Olympics.
“I directed this play before in New York and commissioned Michael to write the piano score for it then,” Edelstein said. “I asked him to come back and develop it, and he made some changes. He’s a big deal in the world of classical music. It’s fun to welcome him to the Globe and deal with Shakespeare music from such an unusual perspective because it’s not conventional, theatrical, incidental music; it’s much more complex and rich.”
The cast for the play includes a mix of seasoned Globe resident artists, some new actors to the Globe and actors from the Old Globe/USD M.F.A program. Noted stage and screen actor Billy Campbell (the TV movie “Killing Lincoln” and SyFy Channel’s “Helix”) was excited to return to the Globe following his previous appearances in “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Comedy of Errors.”
Taking a production usually presented in an outdoor venue to an indoor stage could have been a problem for some companies, but not the Globe, Edelstein said.
“As a director, I’ve always been deeply involved and a collaborator with my design team,” he said. “The Globe stage is not quite as big as the outdoor festival stage, but it’s enormous enough to do all those big musicals we do indoors. Wilson Chin’s design is going to look very handsome. He’s done an imaginative job creating a sparse and very clever design.”
Edelstein said he looks forward to bringing Globe Shakespeare patrons from the outdoors inside for several reasons. “This is a rarely produced play, so it’s wonderful opportunity to see a production that’s not offered as often as ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream’ or ‘Macbeth.’
“Those who have an interest in exploring all parts of the Shakespeare cannon should see it. Also, this is my first show as artistic director and I know people want to get to know me. The production really presents my taste and sense of theater and humor as an artist in a comprehensive way. I’m hoping those who are curious about the new guy will come check me out.”
If you go: “
The Winter’s Tale,” runs matinees, evenings Feb. 8-March 16 in the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. Tickets: From $29. (619) 23-GLOBE. TheOldGlobe.org