An original twist on Shakespeare awaits in "Cymbeline: A Folk Tale with Music," presented outdoors by First Folio Theatre at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook. The world premiere production offers performances at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through July 21.
The folk tale has been moved to Civil War Appalachia and includes 10 original songs featuring bluegrass melodies. A strong heroine powers this story of love, romance and adventure. Falsely accused of betraying her lover, Imogen must flee to the hills to escape her death. She disguises herself as a man, and, with the help of the shepherd Belarius and his two sons, must prove her honesty and chastity, restore her good name, and defeat her evil stepmother.
"Cymbeline: A Folk Tale with Music" is adapted by First Folio Theatre’s Executive Director and Jeff Award-nominee David Rice, with music and lyrics by Rice and Michael Keefe, First Folio’s resident composer. Michael Goldberg directs the “Shakespeare Under the Stars” production, which caps the 2013 season. The main stage is on the scenic slopes of the historic estate.
Kate McDermott appears as Imogen; Andrew Behling as Cloten; Victoria Blade as Cornelia; Ryan Czerwonko as Cadmus; Jeff Award-nominee James Earl Jones II as Iachimo; Jeff Award-nominee Ron Keaton as Morgan; Michael Keffer as Posthumus; John Milewski as Cymbeline; Lia Mortensen as Queen; Tyler Rich as Polydore; Skyler Schrempp as Pisania; Robert Tobin as General Lucius; and Kate LoConti as Valeria the Soothsayer. The ensemble features Tyler Merle Thompson, Kelly Baskin, Andrew Coil, Royen Kent and Michael Ferrarro.
Scenic design by Angela Weber Miller and lighting design by Jeff Award-winner Michael McNamara will transport audiences to the lush, haunting scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. Civil War-era clothing is replicated by costume designer Rachel Lambert. Sound design is by Jeff Award-winner Christopher Kriz. Jason Martin serves as dialect coach. Kate Danziger is stage manager, and assistant stage managers are Katie Fecht and Jamie Fuller.
David Rice is co-founder – with wife Alison C. Vesely – of First Folio Theatre, where he has produced more than 40 shows. Also an actor, he is a playwright specializing in literary adaptations, including the acclaimed "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe."
Michael Keefe has provided music for First Folio for 17 seasons. Most recently, he conducted and played for the WTTW "Soundstage" concert with Raoul Malo of The Mavericks, performed with Dennis DeYong, formerly of Styx, and played keyboards for the Chicago engagements of "Wicked," "Hairspray" and many other Broadway touring shows.
First Folio Theatre is in its 17th season of bringing performances of Shakespeare and other classics to the stage. During that time, the theater has expanded from an annual summer production to a year-round operation with three stages.
The theater is on 31st Street, near Route 83, and offers free parking on the grounds. Tickets cost $30 to $37. For reservations, contact 630-986-8067 or www.firstfolio.org.