LAKESHORE REGIONAL NEWS: Door County, Kewaunee County, Manitowoc County, and Sheboygan County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Virtual ‘The Comedy of Errors’ set by Door County company

Critic At Large

Door Shakespeare

Production image.

BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WFRV) – Door Shakespeare professional theater company of Door County will present its second pay-to-view virtual production, “The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare.

According to a press release: The performance streams to homes from Tuesday, Oct. 27 through Monday, Nov. 16. Info: doorshakespeare.com.

Michael Stebbins is producing artistic director Michael Stebbins, and Amy Ensign is managing director.

“The Comedy of Errors” tells the story of a farcical misadventure between two sets of identical twins who unknowingly come together in the same seaside town. Mistaken identity leads to hilarious hijinks and, ultimately, a heartfelt reunion. Door Shakespeare brings together five actors to play all 16 characters in the comedy known to be one of Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Door Shakespeare’s first virtual production, “Rosalind,” brought the limitations of COVID-19 era productions into the creative concept of the play. The company is approaching “The Comedy of Errors” with a similar goal in mind, while at the same time taking the play in a completely different direction.

As before, Stebbins and company rehearsed and filmed from each artist’s home, but this time, he used the Zoom platform as a jumping off point for his “Door County Squares” concept.

“As the pandemic months marched on, I became frustrated with communicating from inside little squares on Zoom,” Stebbins says. “At the same time, it allowed us to have meetings and readings and to keep connected with the outside world. It was technology, and while not ideal – people freezing in frame, sound quality going in and out, disconnections without notice – it was and is of its time and place.”

This reminded Stebbins of the “time and place” of 1970s and 1980s and the celebrities of the “Hollywood Squares.”

“They were having a ball in those squares,” he says. “I wanted to marry the (‘Hollywood’) squares and technology of yesteryear to the [Zoom] squares and technology of today to see what would happen.”

Billing “The Comedy of Errors” as a long-lost video tape packaged in brown paper and mailed to its P.O. Box, Door Shakespeare plans to “share that episode with you.”

The cast includes Door Shakespeare company members James Carrington (“The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “Henry V,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) and Rayne Kleinofen (“Shakespeare’s Legacy,” “How Shakespeare Won the West,” “Red Velvet”). New faces to Door Shakespeare are Duane Boutté, Charles Fraser and Linda Stein.

Past company member Neil Brookshire (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night”), takes on a new role this time as the film’s editor.

Stebbins says, “Bringing together five actors who had not worked with one another before was exciting, and they worked together beautifully. They were smart, prepared, funny, disciplined, and open to playing in a virtual world, which brings with it a very interesting set of challenges. They embraced and incorporated those challenges into the process and put their talents and energy into the storytelling.”

Playing Antipholus of Ephesus, Antipholus of Syracuse and Duke Solinus is Duane Boutté, a New York-based actor known for his roles in the films “Stonewall” (1996) and “Brother to Brother.” He was in the original Broadway companies of “Carousel” (1994 revival), and “Parade,” and has originated roles in works by Terrence McNally, Robert O’Hara, Matthew Lopez, Kirsten Childs, Charles Randolph Wright, John Logan and others. His regional appearances include Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage, McCarter, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Alliance, Long Wharf, Dallas and Denver theater centers and Penumbra Theatre. Additional film and television credits include “All is Bright,” “You Belong to Me,” “Sex and the City” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Boutté recently directed the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s “Appomattox for Summer Shorts” (NY, 2019). As a musical-theatre composer, Boutté’s produced works include “Lyin’ Up a Breeze,” “Caravaggio Chiaroscuro” and “Thanks to the Lighthouse.”

James Carrington returns for his fourth appearance with Door Shakespeare, playing Aegeon, Courtesan and Second Merchant.He is an actor and singer based in Milwaukee, and a graduate of UW-Madison’s Acting Specialist B.F.A. Program. Some favorite roles include Matt in “Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play,” Man 3 in “The Ballad Of Emmett Till,” The Lion in “The Wiz” at First Stage and William Barfèe in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Skylight Music Theatre. Carrington has also worked with Children’s Theatre of Madison, Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Renaissance Theaterworks, Forward Theater and Milwaukee Rep Theatre. He recently appeared in Forward Theater’s first virtual production of “Lifespan of a Fact.”

Charles Fraser, who plays Dromio of Ephesus, Dromio of Syracuse and Gaoler, has been an actor in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minn., for more than 25 years. He has performed with the Guthrie Theater, History Theatre, Zephyr Theatre, Yellow Tree Theatre, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre, Playwrights’ Center, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Minnesota Shakespeare Project and Illusion Theatre. He is a co-recipient of an Ivey Award for ensemble acting in Jungle Theater’s “Driving Miss Daisy.” Since 2011, he has played the role of Mr. Dussel in Park Square Theatre’s annual production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Outside of Minnesota, he has performed at New Stage Theatre in Mississippi, Lincoln Amphitheatre in Indiana and aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic. He is featured in a variety of commercials and the films “Pull,” “ Jurisprejudice,” “Hinkleton” and “The Completely Remarkable, Utterly Fabulous Transformation of a Regular Joe.”

Rayne Kleinofen is “glad that during a time of uncertainty and unconventional interaction, ‘The Comedy of Errors’ brings forward laughter and fun.” She was recently in Renaissance Theaterworks’ Br!nk festival staged reading “28 Light Years From Now (Maddie/Young Josie)”. She has also participated in three Door Shakespeare staged readings. She plays Luciana, Doctor Pinch and the First Merchant in “The Comedy of Errors.”

Linda Stein is a Buffalo, N.Y., native. She has performed with Buffalo Laboratory Theatre, Irish Classical Theatre, Jewish Repertory Theatre, New Phoenix Theatre, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Torn Space and Theatre of Youth. Regionally, she has performed with Coterie Theatre, Creede Repertory Theatre, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (playing the Courtesan in “The Comedy of Errors”), The Maryland Stage Company, Missouri Repertory Theatre and in NYC performing her one woman show, “Click This! ☺” directed by Michael Stebbins at Stage Door in NYC and the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo. Linda received her BA from the University of Maryland and her MFA from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Neil Brookshire is an actor, visual artist, and filmmaker. He is also the founder of Dirt Hills Productions, which produces short films and audio theater. Brookshire has a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Boise State and an MFA in acting from Northern Illinois University.

Stebbins was seen onstage last summer as the Archbishop of Canterbury in “Henry V” at Door Shakespeare. He has appeared on professional stages across the country, from NYC’s The Public Theater/NYSF and the Mint Theatre Company, to California’s Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and many states in between. Wisconsin credits include Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Optimist Theatre (aka Milwaukee’s Shakespeare in the Park), Skylight Music Theatre, Theatre Gigante, and Peninsula Players. Recent directing credits include productions at the Rochester Civic Theatre Company, Door Shakespeare’s “Rosalind” and the Door Shakespeare Reading Series.

“It’s wonderful to be creating again,’ says Amy Ensign. “None of us knew what to expect heading into a virtual season. And although it is new territory for all of us, the creative process is just the same. And it feels great.”

Door Shakespeare was founded in 1995 under the umbrella of the then-named American Folklore Theatre. Since becoming its own nonprofit in 1999, the organization has produced 42 productions of classical theater by playwrights including Shakespeare, Moliere and Oscar Wilde.

Door Shakespeare hopes to return to the Garden of Björklunden’s 405-acre estate on Lake Michigan in Baileys Harbor for the 2021 summer season.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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