Michael Semanic of Streamwood, a seventh-grader at Canton Middle School, is featured in the cast of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It plays on the Courtyard Stage at Navy Pier from now to Jan. 19.
The high-spirited comedy is directed by CST Artistic Director Barbara Gaines. Michael performs the role of young Robin Page, Falstaff’s mischievous page.
In his free time, Michael also enjoys singing in the Elgin Children’s Chorus, and writing stories on his blog at michaelsnews.wordpress.com.
Michael is making his Chicago Shakespeare Theater debut. Other Chicago credits include the role of Oliver Twist in "Oliver!" with Light Opera Works. In addition to numerous community productions, he recently performed the roles of Gherardino and the child in Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica" with Main Street Opera, and was a featured soloist with the Wheaton Symphony.
Commercial credits include the Museum of Science and Industry. He plays violin in his middle school orchestra and enjoys writing original stories.
Often called the first "situation comedy,” according to CST, "The Merry Wives of Windsor" is an energetic romp with the lovable rogue Sir John Falstaff. Sir John finds himself hard up for money and seeks to repair his depleted fortunes by wooing the two most prominent women in Windsor. He sets his sights on Mistress Page and Mistress Ford; but his plans go awry as the Windsor wives see through his intrigues and dupe him repeatedly.
Chicago Shakespeare’s production will transport audiences to post-war England in the late 1940s with a soundtrack of spirited dance music. Michael will sing and dance to some classic swing tunes during the performance.
The director has set the production during the holiday season of the period.
“I love the music and the dancing of the '40s," Gaines said. "There is something so undeniably hopeful about the songs of this period, as England worked to shake off the impact of the war. The music reflects the heart and soul of our merry Windsor.”
Known for roles in theater, film and television, Scott Jaeck portrays the irascible rascal and seducer Falstaff, a dramatic departure from his last appearance on CST’s Courtyard Stage as the ruthless Cardinal Wolsey in "Henry VIII."
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford are portrayed by Kelli Fox and Heidi Kettenring.
For more on the show, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/merrywives.
Tickets are on sale for $48 to $78 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more, as well as "CST for $20" tickets available for patrons younger than 35. All patrons receive a 40 percent discount on guaranteed parking in Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets or a season subscription, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s box office at 312-595-5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com.
Open Door Programs
Pre•Ambles: Half-hour introductory lectures on the play presented by scholars will take place Friday, Dec. 20, at 6:45 p.m.; on Saturdays at 2 p.m. from Dec. 21 to Jan. 18; and on Sundays at 1 p.m. from Dec. 22 to Jan. 19. Admission is free and no reservations are required.
Talk-Backs: Post-show discussions for the audience facilitated by a member of CST’s Education Department follow each Wednesday and Thursday 1 p.m. performance. Admission is free and no reservations are required.
Pub Cast Call: Patrons are invited to join several members of the cast on Friday, Jan. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in CST’s English-style Pub to informally discuss the production that evening. Admission is free and no reservations are required.
Audio-Described Performance and Touch Tour: Sunday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. (tour at 12:15 p.m.)
Open-Captioned Performance: Friday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m.
Duo-interpreted American Sign Language Performance: Friday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m.