Doug Austin and Harriet Briant in “Will of the Woods.”
Photo courtesy Stratford Players

Stratford Players, Idyllwild’s classical company dedicated to keeping Shakespeare front and center, presents “Will in the Woods” season six, “Lovers and Scoundrels.”

On the bill are scenes from Shakespearean classics “Julius Caesar,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Othello,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Richard III,” and scenes featuring two major Shakespeare characters, Falstaff and Mistress Quickly.

Each of the featured plays boasts famous quotes, including this from “Julius Caesar”: “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights. Yond Cassius has a mean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”

Translate that into contemporary English and it could have been found in television’s “House of Cards.” Lest any think Shakespeare dull or boring, the intrigues, villainy and treachery that abound in Caesar, “Othello” and “Richard III” could darken any television criminal- or political-action series.

And with Shakespeare, not only are the characters cunning and Machiavellian, their prose is epic and thrilling.

Then there is the lyrical magic of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the lovely and comical sparring of Beatrice and Benedick In “Much Ado About Nothing,” to remind us of our foibles and foolishness and resign ourselves to our imperfect selves.

What Stratford is offering at summer’s end are some of the most finely cut Shakespearean gems, offered in the arboreal beauty of the Shakespeare stage, at First Church of Christ Scientist, at 25970 Cedar Street. Watch and listen carefully for there is magic to be seen and heard.

In the cast are Allison Fedrick, Derrik Lewis, Barbara Rayliss, Christopher Morse, Harriet Briant, Dick English, Mark Rogers, Julie Pence and Doug Austin as Falstaff.

Stage Manager is Julie Pence, and Marsha Kennedy directs and provides costume design.

Pianist Ed Hanson plays before the performance, at intermission and after. During the performance, Elizabethan music is performed by Lois Sheppard on recorder and Sam Kesler on classic banjo/lute.

Said Kennedy of her cast and crew, “As always, I have the privilege of working with talented actors who are also such good human beings. Live theater can be incredibly challenging, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to face the challenges with.

“This year, we have added a twist to ‘Will in the Woods’ with the theme Lovers and Scoundrels. We’ve given the audience lovers they can love and laugh with, and scoundrels they can love to hate.

Tickets to “Will in the Woods 6” are available for $15 online at www. Stratfordplayers.com and at the door. Performances are at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 30, and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. The performance on Sept. 29 benefits the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s Community Celebration.

This story has been updated from its original version with the correct event location. Town Crier regrets the error.

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