Shakespeare’s THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR is now performing at one of the most beautiful theaters in Los Angeles – Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR is a story that The Bard wrote at Queen Elizabeth’s request. She loved the scoundrel Falstaff, who’s always starting trouble one way or another. In this play, Shakespeare has him trying to woo two wealthy ladies at once. The “merry wives” are, of course, too smart for him, devising instead a plan to humiliate him. The play has always been witty, but at Theatricum, set in the 1950s in the State of Connecticut and full of music from that decade, it’s not only funny, but fun. Think of tunes like “The Great Pretender” and “When I Fall in Love” adding a whole new ambiance into the play. Mind you, it’s not a musical, nor are the singers all from Broadway, but the songs liven up the mood and the changed lyrics add to the amusement.
On the night I attended, Gerald C. Rivers performed as Falstaff. He’s listed as the understudy for the part, which belongs to Jeff Wiesen. Rivers, however, is a seasoned performer that never disappoints and much less when he’s carrying a fake belly under his shirt. I enjoyed every minute of his performance.
This is a large and diverse cast of over 25 actors, out of which Emily Bridges (as Mrs. Ford) and Willow Geer (as Mrs. Page) stand out for their entertaining performances. They are funny in all the right places and their voices on point. Other humorous moments come thanks to Ethan Haslam (as Slender), Jonathan Blandino (as Ford), and of course, Melora Marshall, who always adds in her craft, this time performing as Quickly.
Part of the magic of seeing a play at Theatricum is the theater itself. This is a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater terraced into the hillside of Topanga Canyon. It cools down in the evening, even when the day is warm, so bring along a jacket or even a blanket. Dress casually, these are wooden benches and/or concrete seats. Outside the theater there’s a lovely garden. You are welcome to arrive early with a picnic and enjoy it before the performance. Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., in Topanga CA 90290 (midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway).
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR will be in repertory with three other plays- A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE WEST SIDE WALTZ, and TROUBLE THE WATER, through October 2, 2022. The specific dates for “MERRY WIVES” are listed below.
Tickets are $42 (lower tier/assigned seating); $26 (upper tier/general seating) / Seniors (65+), Students, Military Veterans, Teachers, AEA Members: $25/$15 / Children (5-15): $10 / Children 4 and under: Free / Tickets are available by calling (310) 455-3723 or at theatricum.com
“MERRY WIVES” PERFORMANCE DATES:
• Sunday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 9 at 3:30 p.m.
• Friday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.*
• Sunday, July 24 at 3:30 p.m.
• Saturday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m.**
• Saturday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m.
*Pay-What-You-Will performance on Friday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.
**Prologue (pre-show discussion):Sunday, Aug. 7 from 6:30 p.m.–7 p.m. (included in ticket price)