It was first produced at SSC in 1983, as part of the first multi-play season in the company's history. After that, it returned in 1993, in
Fast forward to 2014 and the traumatic shake-out that transformed Shakespeare Santa Cruz into Santa Cruz Shakespeare. The new company's inaugural season features a spanking new production of "Merry Wives," with a subtle nod to its past incarnation.
"Merry Wives," of course, features one of Shakespeare's most endearing characters, the bawdy and boozy Sir
The thread between the closing curtain of SSC and the rising curtain at Santa Cruz Shakespeare is made all the more strong by the fact that Falstaff is played by the same actor who took on the role in 2011 and 2012 in "Henry IV" in the Glen:
"It's the middle-class play," said Brandt of "Merry Wives." "There's no princes, no royalty, just regular people. I also like it because of the strong statement it makes about women who are very savvy in the play in showing how the men had underestimated them."
Falstaff is at the center of the action in "Merry Wives." The play makes a single reference to his life at the side of
Brandt sets her production in the 1920s. Given that Falstaff is essentially a furloughed soldier, she decided to set her play in the aftermath of
"It's a great satire on the middle class and the strivings of the middle class to make a buck," she said. "
This is Brandt's first turn at directing a Shakespearean comedy, though her professional life has leaned more towards the tragic in recent months. The demise of SSC prefigured the closing of
Brandt, who has also worked as a playwright and has adapted several works for the stage, said that she remains optimistic that live theater will continue to find an audience, despite the constant ups and downs of the industry.
"They're very different," she said of the shuttering of SSC and San Jose Rep. "The thing at San Jose Rep is still very fresh to me. It's in one of the richest communities in the country and, even with all that wealth, it couldn't support local theater. I'm still grappling with what that means."
(c)2014 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
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