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Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia’s professional classic repertory theatre, continues Season XII: Breaking the Cycle with repertory productions of William Shakespeare’s genre-defying romance The Winter’s Tale and Ben Jonson’s satirical farce The Alchemist. The repertory starts previews March 16, with an Opening Weekend Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26.
The Transformation Repertory features an ensemble of eleven actors performing multiple roles across both productions. Founding Artistic Director Alexander Burns will direct The Winter’s Tale and Paul Hebron (Julius Caesar, The Wild Duck, Long Day’s Journey into Night) will direct The Alchemist.
“In 1610, William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Ben Jonson’s satiric farce The Alchemist triumphantly re-opened the theatre in London,” says Artistic Director Alexander Burns. “The two friends and great writers of their age returned to the stage to respond to each other and the ongoing recovery from an outbreak of the plague. At the heart of Quintessence’s mission is classic repertory theatre, the act of bringing together an ensemble of artists to rehearse and perform multiple classic plays in tandem. The repertory model, on which the American Theatre was founded, shows off the actor at the height of their power, and reminds the audience of the theatre’s greatest functions: imagination, transformation, and transcendence. Quintessence was forced to shut its doors a week before it opened its first three show repertory, The Dreams and Madness Repertory in the Spring of 2020. We are grateful to return to the repertory model and welcome our audience back to the Sedgwick with an ensemble of Philadelphia’s finest actors, and two glorious Jacobean plays.”
The Winter’s Tale
The Winter’s Tale starts when the King of Sicilia, blinded by irrational jealousy, accuses his wife of being unfaithful with his best friend…who happens to be the King of Bohemia. The domestic dispute soon becomes political, initiating a chaotic chain of events that spans 16 years. In one of his last attempts to capture human desire in all its complexity, William Shakespeare skillfully explores the threat of unchecked emotion alongside the sublime potential of romantic love, resulting in a moving human comedy that transcends genre. What will happen when the snow starts to melt after such a long winter?
Michael Zlabinger (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) plays the fiery tyrant Leontes, opposite Hillary Parker as the tragically wronged Hermione. Atlanta-based Amari Ingram plays Leontes’ childhood friend and rival king Polixenes. Kristin Devine (Oliver!, Love’s Labor’s Lost, The Broken Heart, and My Fair Lady) and Travoye Joyner (Rachel) feature as the young lovers Perdita and Florizel. John Zak makes his Quintessence debut as Camillo. Eleni Delopoulos (Little Women, Oliver!) plays the fiercely loyal Paulina and Joseph Langham (The Cure at Troy, The Playboy of the Western World) joins as her husband Antigonus. Quintessence favorites Jered McLenigan (Little Women, The Wizard of Oz) Hanna Gaffney (Oliver!, One Man, Two Guvnors), and Lee Cortopassi (Little Women, The Skin of Our Teeth, King Lear) round out the ensemble.
What do you do when your boss goes on vacation…in the middle of a pandemic? With the master away, watch three servants play as they swindle a rogues’ gallery of ridiculous characters out of their cash and their dignity by offering pseudoscientific services that range from turning metal into gold to summoning fairies. Written for the reopening of the London theatres after the plague outbreak of 1610, The Alchemist is Ben Jonson’s chemistry lesson in comedy that will tickle your funny bone with one hand and pick your pocket with the other.
John Zak stars as the wily butler Face, with Jered McLenigan and Hanna Gaffney playing his comical criminal associates Subtle and Dol Common. Hillary Parker joins as the trickster Surly. Michael Zlabinger plays the clueless master of the house Lovewit. Joseph Langham, Eleni Delopoulos, Amari Ingram and Travoye Joyner portray the hilariously hapless victims Epicure Mammon, Dapper, Drugger and Ananais. Lee Cortopassi and Kristin Devine join as the brother-sister duo Kastril and Dame Pliant.
Both productions will feature original music, with Liz Filios composing for The Winter’s Tale and Dave Cope composing for The Alchemist. Adrienne Maitland is the choreographer. Costume design is by Lisa Jane Casanave for The Winter’s Tale and by Summer Lee Jack for The Alchemist.
Visit www.QTGrep.org or call 215.987.4450 to purchase tickets to The Winter’s Tale and The Alchemist.Preview performances will run March 16 – 24, general admission tickets are available March 25 – April 17.
Quintessence Theatre joins theatres across the region in signing the Audience COVID-19 Policy from Philadelphia Regional Theatres published by Theatre Philadelphia. Visitors to the Sedgwick Theater will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to attend indoor performances. Proof of vaccination can be physical or digital. Following the current policy of the city of Philadelphia, patrons are also required to wear masks at all times when inside the theatre.
“Theatre is at its best when it can be experienced live and together,” says Executive Director Sam Sweet. “Our audiences have helped us to revitalize the historic Sedgwick by making it a lively, vital cultural hub that brings people together and serves our community. As a nearly 100-year-old building, though, it has many challenges. While the building was closed due to COVID, Quintessence has continued to make improvements for safety and comfort. We have updated our HVAC system, installed a new fire safety system, and purchased new audience risers and seating. Audiences will feel safe and more comfortable while experiencing Quintessence’s theatrical magic at the Sedgwick.”
Founded in 2009, award-winning Quintessence Theatre Group uses the classics to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human in today’s world. Through intimate, visceral, and innovative productions of epic theatre, Quintessence pursues its vision to become the Delaware Valley’s center for progressive humanism and an engine for radical empathy through the classics.
The Winter’s Tale is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
General Admission tickets are $35 – $55.
Youth tickets (21 and under) are $20.
Tickets for active military are $25.
Seniors (65 and over) receive $5 off the ticket price.
Upgrade to premium seats for an additional $19 per ticket.
STUDENT MATINEES: Weekday student matinees are available at a discounted student rate. To book your classroom’s visit, contact Educational Programs Manager Daniel Ciba at 215.987.4450, ext. 106, or Daniel@QTGrep.org.
GROUP SALES: Special rates are available for groups of over ten. For information on group sales, please contact the Box Office at 215.987.4450, ext. 1, or BoxOffice@QTGrep.org.