'All's Well That Ends Well' to open this weekend

Shakespeare comedy features a retro twist, set in 1960s

By Marissa LaPorte | 9/27/15 10:51pm

GVL / Archive Shakespeare festival preview (2012)

Grand Valley State University is gearing up for the premiere of an artistic, historical, literary and comedic performance. At the center of GVSU’s Shakespeare Festival this year is the theatrical performance of William Shakespeare’s own “All’s Well That Ends Well,” but there’s a twist—the performance will be set in the 1960s.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” will open Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. on the Allendale Campus. This production’s opening is also a part of ArtPrize and GVSU’s Family Weekend.

Karen Libman, the director of “All’s Well That Ends Well,” hopes that families will enjoy the show together.

“It’s a nice, funny story about being young and wanting something very much,” Libman said. “And I think everybody loves a good love story that ends well.”

Libman said the cast has been hard at work preparing for the show. The student actors moved to campus two weeks before classes at GVSU were in session to begin rehearsing.

“It’s always challenge to jump right into the year with a big project,” Libman said. “While everyone else is revving up slowly, we’ve already put in hours of work.”

Emilee Miller, a senior theater major, plays the lead role of Helena in this production. Miller said this major role has better prepared her for future theater performances.

“(This role) has prepared me for more Shakespeare (plays) because the text is more of a negotiation,” Miller said. “There is no definite meaning.”

“Alls Well That Ends Well” is featuring an Equity guest actor, Brian Russel, who is returning to act in a Shakespeare Festival performance for his fourth year.

“(This performance) is all about fun,” Russel said. “We’re not trying to change the world with this one. We hope that people will come out for a good two hours and laugh with us.”

A guest stage manager was also brought in this year. Libman said this is a great opportunity for students to work alongside professionals who make their living in theater.

“(This production) gets me back in touch with why I started, and it reminds me of why I made this career choice,” Russel said.

Libman said GVSU's Shakespeare Festival is the largest Shakespeare festival in the state of Michigan and that it continues to serve the needs of GVSU, Allendale and the community of West Michigan.

“The festival continues to not just grow, but to morph and change as it continues to grow,” Libman said.

Even though Shakespeare’s writing may not be easy to understand when seen on a page, Libman said she believes that seeing the play acted out as it was meant to be helps the audience to understand what events are happening and what they mean.

“‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ is one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays and not a lot of people do it, but it’s not as big of a problem as people think it is when you have good center actors like we do,” Russel said.

Even though Shakespeare’s work may seem foreign to most, universal beliefs can be found within the text and this performance can be relevant in today’s modern world, Libman said.

“Shakespeare was able to capture universal desires that people had and continue to have in (his) stories that continue to be evocative and can be interpreted in multiple ways,” Libman said.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is also showing Oct. 8, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. Afternoon performances will occur on Oct. 3, 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. All showings will take place at the Performing Arts Center in the Louis Armstrong Theatre located on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. On Oct. 8, the audience is encouraged to come dressed in their best 1960s garb to receive a coupon for an upcoming performance at the PAC.

For more information about “All’s Well That Ends Well,” other festival events or to purchase tickets for the show, visit www.gvsu.edu/theatre.

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