Taking a closer look at Madison theater
Jan 7, 2014
09:10 AM
Stage Write

Die for Me, Won't You?


APT will stage the translation of Euripides Alcestis by Ted Hughes, the British Poet Laureate.

We could get used to this shoulder-season thing.

After announcing last month a twenty-fifth anniversary season that had us wishing for June—and not just because temperatures are currently cold enough to turn boiling water into snow—American Players Theatre gilded its own lily yesterday by announcing that they’ll stage Ted Hughes’s translation of Euripides’s Alcestis from October 10–-November 9 in the Touchstone Theatre, in the window that opens as APT’s outdoor season comes to a close.

For those whose World Lit knowledge has become a little rusty, Alcestis tells the tale of a Greek King who’s granted a shot at extended life by the Fates—but only after his wife, the woman for whom the play’s named, ends up agreeing to die in his place. (Now that’s dedication.) The play’s actually more concerned with the aftermath of this momentous decision, especially when the hero Heracles arrives and nobody’s willing to tell him what’s happened.

With a core-company heavy cast that includes David Daniel, Colleen Madden, James Ridge and Marcus Truschinski, it could be another powerhouse. Cristina Panfilio, who held her own as Ophelia against Matthew Schwader’s Hamlet last summer, is also in the show, perhaps suggesting she’ll be doing some outdoor work for APT next summer as well.   

The announcement of Alcestis seems to suggest that APT’s shoulder-season strategy could become an annual thing. In 2012, the December run of the musical “Gift of the Magi” sold 3,925 tickets. Last fall’s well-reviewed production of Les Liaisons Dangereus topped it, selling 4,236 tickets and (re)proving that APT audiences don’t mind braving a cold drive to Spring Green.    

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About This Blog

Once upon a time—okay, it was the mid-'80s—a boy saw a performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona at the annual summer Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, and a spark was ignited. Decades later, that spark’s only grown stronger, burning brightly every time the lights go up and the actors begin to tread the stage.

I’ve spent a long time—okay, more than 15 years—watching and writing about Madison’s theater scene. Now, more than ever, it’s clear our bustling burgh is packed with vibrant theater companies doing important, cutting-edge work, whether it’s original and daring content, stunning musicals or thought-provoking stagings of modern and classic plays. Stage Write is a place where we’ll talk about those plays and the people who make them happen, maybe look behind the curtain a little and gain some new perspective on how and why it all comes together. Theater has the power to transform, to educate, to show us who we are and where we’re going in a way no other medium can. Hey, look: The curtain’s rising.

– Aaron R. Conklin
Follow Aaron on Twitter @arconklin

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