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August 19, 2008

TT: Shakespeare on the tube

hv13Runthrough08.jpgMark your calendar: PBS will be telecasting the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's production of Twelfth Night, together with a backstage documentary called Shakespeare on the Hudson that (according to the press release) "gives viewers an intimate look at the backstory and theatrical process of preparing for and performing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to a sell-out crowd. Shakespeare on the Hudson follows the troupe's core actors through all the real off-stage drama as they prepare for opening night, from the high-pressure auditions and call backs to the final moments backstage before the performance begins."

I raved about Hudson Valley's Twelfth Night in The Wall Street Journal when it opened last month:

The company's productions are models of uncondescending theatrical populism, reaching out to contemporary audiences without watering down Shakespeare beyond recognition. In John Christian Plummer's staging of "Twelfth Night," for instance, the actors all wear dresses of riotously varied kinds, not in order to make a ham-fisted statement about gender politics but to create an atmosphere in which Viola (played by Katie Hartke, who is adorably earnest) can impersonate a handsome boy without stretching credulity until it snaps. While Mr. Plummer and his youthful cast never let you forget that "Twelfth Night" is drop-dead funny--Paul Bates, Richard Ercole, Maia Guest and Wesley Mann are superb clowns all--they are just as careful to give full value to the fresh-faced ardor of Shakespeare's lovers.

In New York City, Shakespeare on the Hudson and Twelfth Night will air back to back on WNET on September 18 at eight p.m. and on WLIW on September 26 at nine p.m. I don't know whether or when the two shows will be telecast nationally, so check your local listings--this one is a must.

To watch a video of scenes from Hudson Valley's Twelfth Night, go here.

Posted August 19, 2008 12:00 AM

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