Shakespeare in the Park play has all-female cast
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Mahoning Valley Players will present “Julius Caesar” with an all-female cast for its annual Shakespeare in the Park production.
The tragedy will be staged at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. June 17, at Morley Pavilion, in the Wick Recreation Area of Mill Creek Park. The entrance is on McCollum Road at Belle Vista Avenue on the West Side.
Admission, as always, is free.
Kim Akins, director of the Mahoning Valley Players, acknowledged that all-female casts are nothing new when it comes to Shakespeare productions.
“While I’d love to take credit for the idea of an all-woman cast, it’s been done before,” she said in an email. “Even ‘Julius Caesar’ has been done with an all female cast.”
For a variety of reasons, Akins decided that it was time for it to happen here.
“We have so many amazing women actors who, due to the lack of material written for women, are fighting for roles that don’t showcase their talents,” she said. “We also have a bias about what women on stage should look like, so that women of a certain age are locked out of parts. Women of a certain size are locked out. Different ethnicities are locked out.
“This production [of ‘Julius Caesar’] ignores all those biases and casts the best the Valley has to offer.”
The decision to go all-female was also partially spurred by the #MeToo movement, Akins said.
It reflects the cultural zeitgeist, she said, and also makes a statement about the inverse relationship between the number of women in the audience versus the number on stage. Although the majority of theatergoers are women, they are a minority when it comes to roles.
The only man involved with MVP’s production is Valley theater veteran Chris Fidram, who is the director.
“I recognize the irony of having a male director with the all-woman cast, but we picked the director before we picked the concept,” said Akins.
She noted that the play will still be performed as Shakespeare intended. “As far as changes to the script, only the pronouns have been changed,” said Akins.
The cast includes Noelle Bowles, Brandi Baros, Jeanine Rees, Liz Conrad, Mary James, Liz Nalepa, Amy Anne Kibler, Holly Ceci, Brenda Zyvith, Abigail Kremm, Jenna Cintavey, Monica Beasley Marin, Rhonny Dam, Trish Terlesky, Denise Sculli, Missa Eaton, Sara Demetruk, Americfa McNeil, Rachael Conrad, Alyssa Olsen, Kim Carson, Haggy Hageman, Joanna Andrej, Melody Figueroa, Jessica Patory, Joyce Jones, Denise Cintavey, Hannah Boyle and Elsie Kibler.