Richard III kicks off Shakespeare Festival

Guest artist Brian Webb Russell as Richard III
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Guest artist Brian Webb Russell as Richard III
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Grand Valley State University opens the theater season, and kicks off Michigan’s oldest and largest Shakespeare Festival, with a production of Richard III.

Performances in the Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, are September 28-29, and October 4-6, 7:30 p.m., and matinees September 30 and October 6-7, 2 p.m. Tickets, $12 adults, $10 alumni/faculty/staff/seniors, and $6 all students, are available at www.gvsu.edu/theatre, or by calling (616) 331-2300.

Energy, revenge and intrigue mark this Shakespeare tragedy depicting Britain’s history at the end of the War of the Roses, culminating in Richard’s defeat, which ushers in a new age and renaissance for England. Pre-show discussions will be held September 28 and October 6, 6:45 p.m., Sherman Van Solkema Hall, PAC.

The production features professional, regional and student performers, including guest artist Brian Webb Russell performing the villainous title role. Russel has previously performed for the festival as Oberon/Theseus in the 2008 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and in Comedy of Errors in 2000, playing both Antipholus twins.

Lauren Masud, a senior from Frankenmuth, performs the role of Lady Anne. She has previously performed in Grand Valley productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like it, among others.

Chad Mitchell Rodgers, a sophomore from Shelby Township, plays the character Richmond. He has performed in many previous productions, including Grand Valley’s Antona Garcia.

Richard III is directed by Karen Libman, professor of theater. Her work has been seen locally at Heritage Theatre, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and Grand Rapids Jewish Theatre. Libman’s Grand Valley stage productions include five previous Shakespeare Festival mainstage shows, and international tours of Bard to Go in 2005 and 2007, among many others.

The Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, has operated annually since 1993. More than 6,000 patrons attend the festival activities each season. The 2012 events, beginning September 28 and concluding November 3, include an academic conference, public presentations and discussions, performances of Richard III, Bard to Go and a family friendly Renaissance Faire.

For more information on all festival events, visit www.gvsu.edu/shakes.