Every year, my girlfriend Jeanne and I make it a point to see at least one show at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University in Center Valley. This year we chose The Merry Wives of Windsor.
We started our night out with dinner at Melt located in The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley. We used this time to go over our notes on the Shakespearean story since neither of us had seen the show before and sometimes we have a hard time following along with the plot if we're not familiar with it going in. Thanks to this pre-performance study session, we were golden, which made for an incredible show experience.
The director, Jim Helsinger, chose an outstanding cast, including himself as one of our favorite characters of the night, Master Ford aka Master Brook (pictured). He also chose his real life wife, Suzanne O'Donnell, to play his mistress. This was their first time performing together; the two of them were witty and played off each other very well against the slyness of Sir John Falstaff (also pictured), played by John Ahlin, who I have seen act in the PA Shakespeare Festival before. Falstaff's hambone antics brought many laughs to the audience throughout the night as he tried to woo two mistresses at the same time.
Some more of our favorite characters from this production of Merry Wives were Dr. Caius, played by Richard Watson, and Mistress Quickly, his servant, portrayed by Allison DeCaro. Mistress Quickly fluttered around the stage making whimsical comment, which really made this comedic love story a delight.
The performance we attended was actually a preview night performance of Merry Wives, a chance for the cast to work out all the kinks before opening night (which is tonight, by the way). But each character hit their lines with ease and the story was portrayed without a hitch. Just goes to show the caliber of talent showcased at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival! Kudos to each and every member of the cast.
The show is playing through August 8, are you planning to go see it?