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A very merry “Wives”

The Merry Wives of Windsor Review by Jen Bush

The American Theatre of Actors has been in operation for 46 years.  This supportive institution provides a creative playground for new playwrights, directors, and actors to nurture their work.  Edie Flaco, Dennis Quaid and Chazz Palminteri are just a few of the many notable artists who have worked with this theatre.  They present this version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Merry Wives of Windsor centers around the characters of John Falstaff, Mistress Ford, Mistress Page and Anne Page, daughter of Mistress Page.  The unscrupulous John Falstaff is after the fortunes of the mistresses’ husbands.  He endeavors to seduce the two unwitting housewives to flee with the fortunes.  Anne Page is courted by three suitors but she only desires one of the three.  Mistress Ford and Mistress Page get wind of Falstaff’s scheme and come up with a scheme of their own to humiliate him.

Undertaking a Shakespearean play is a challenging endeavor, and this company was certainly up for the challenge.  Every pun, metaphor and simile in this play was delivered diligence.  The Bard’s beloved boisterous comedy was in excellent hands with this international, multi-ethnic talented cast.  Each and every one of them deserves a shout out and that’s exactly what they’re going to get. 

Michael Bordwell is no fool, but he pulled off playing one.  His comedic command of John Falstaff was a pure joy to watch.  Amanda Cannon, Amber Brooks and Jake McMichael all took a page out of the Shakespeare book of fine acting with their portrayals of members of the Page family.  Amy Losi was a worthy adversary for Falstaff with her cunning portrayal of Mistress Ford.  Tom Kane gave a fine performance as Shallow.  As a self-professed late bloomer in acting, what he lacks in time, he makes up for in talent.  Alan Hasnas was so good, I didn’t even realize he was playing two characters until further into the play.  Gabe Girson played Slender with Slender loving care.  Having seen Manny Rey in a previous production, it’s evident that he’s got range and a strong command of the characters he portrays.  Ken Dillon gave a solid performance as Sir Hugh Evans.  Well done, accent and all.   Dustin Pazar was a winner as the winning suitor, Fenton.  The third time was a charm for Sky Spallone (great name!) as this was her third production with A.T.A.  Vicky Gitre handled their three roles with keen expertise.  Having studied biochemistry, Riyadh Rollins definitely had a lot of chemistry in his roles of Pistol and Second Servant.  Nicole Arcieri was simply the best in her role of simple.  The multilingual Marc Martin wowed the crown with his French Doctor Caius.  Jake Minter’s double duty playing two characters was doubly good.

The actors utilized two levels of the stage.  Shakespeare plays do love a good balcony scene.  The fact that there were minimal set pieces was of no detriment.  It made it easier to concentrate on the fine acting.  The costumes were clever and inventive.  The finale was illuminating.  The production was directed and co-directed by a pair of A.T.A. veterans.  Award winning director Ken Coughlin knows how to direct an actor because he is an actor and a good one at that.  He gave a memorable performance in Banned in Bisbee as a military man also at A.T.A.  Laurie Rae Waugh, also an award-winning director, handled assistant directing duties expertly.  You have until July 3rd to make merry with this production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.  I would suggest you make haste and see it.

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