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March 13, 2006

Shakespeare Santa Cruz announces 25th anniversary season lineup

By Scott Rappaport

Shakespeare Santa Cruz has announced the lineup for its 25th anniversary summer season amid the redwood groves.

Photo: Tartuffe
Shakespeare Santa Cruz artistic director Paul Whitworth and Ursula Meyer, who have played opposite one another in past productions including Tartuffe, will be featured in Dear Liar.
Photo: David Alexander

UCSC’s award-winning theater company will present King Lear and As You Like It in the outdoor Festival Glen, plus George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Theater Arts Mainstage. The plays will be performed in repertory from July 22 to September 3.

Both of the Shakespeare plays featured in the 2006 season portray societies ripped apart by greed and the lust for power. In King Lear—one of the bard’s grandest and most moving tragedies—politics and personal enlightenment are intimately intertwined in a riveting struggle between greed and loyalty. Lear’s abuse of power ultimately leads to the disintegration of his whole kingdom.

As You Like It features a comic mix of familial discord, lost love, and hidden identities. Banished from the royal court by her uncle, Rosalind and her cousin Celia flee to the Forest of Arden where they encounter some of Shakespeare’s most eccentric characters. It’s a place where love and enchantment offer alternative perspectives on life and the opportunity for forgiveness and rejuvenation.

In George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, phonetics professor Henry Higgins wagers that he can make a lady out of an uneducated flower girl and pass her off in high society as a duchess. A theatrical sensation of the 20th century, it succeeded as a play and as the stage musical and feature film My Fair Lady

Combining the serious and the comic, it probes issues of social class as well as the complex relationships between men and women.

As a special prelude to its 25th anniversary season, Shakespeare Santa Cruz will also present a one-night-only performance of Jerome Kilty’s Dear Liar, on March 25 at 8 p.m. at the Theater Arts Mainstage. Dear Liar is based upon letters written during a 40-year love affair between playwright Shaw and actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell—who inspired the character of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. Throughout their lengthy correspondence, Shaw and Campbell flirted, fought, and reconciled with extraordinary wit, passion, and vitality. 

Shakespeare Santa Cruz artistic director Paul Whitworth and Ursula Meyer will be featured in the roles of Shaw and Campbell. They have played opposite one another in past Shakespeare Santa Cruz productions such as The Dresser, Tartuffe, Richard III, Othello, and Kean.

Dear Liar is an ideal introduction to our 25th anniversary season,” noted Marcus Cato, managing director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz. “Not only does it have a direct link with Pygmalion, but it is also an apt fit thematically for a season which explores how the lives of men in powerful roles are transformed by their encounters with extraordinary women.”

Tickets are now on sale for the March 25 performance of Dear Liar. Subscriptions for the 25th anniversary summer season will go on sale in mid-April, with single tickets becoming available in mid-May. For more festival and ticket information, go to the SSC web site at: or call the UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159.

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