The Theatre Department at Lake Erie College will be presenting the classic comedy by William Shakespeare The Merry Wives of Windsor. This play features Sir John Falstaff, who is Prince Hal's friend in Henry IV Parts I and II, but in a spin off comedy where he attempts to seduce the wives of Windsor. These country housewives turn the table on Falstaff, comically pranking him over and over again. It is produced and directed by Professor of Theatre Dr. Jerry Jaffe, with performances November 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:00 pm and one matinee November 7 at 2pm. The matinee will also be live-streamed.
Professor Jaffe explained that this is the first full Shakespearean production at the College in several years, and he is enthusiastic to bring the bard to life. "The challenge is always to make the plays feel relevant to modern audiences." This play is considered by some to be Shakespeare's biggest farce, and by others as his single worst play, Jaffe is focusing on squeezing every joke out of the script they can.
In the play Falstaff (Craig Webb) declares to his followers that they are out of money and he has decided to con some local housewives out of their money by seducing them. The two housewives are played Jessi Moore '17 and Abigail Banks who have the fun task of orchestrating all of the play's pranks. Meanwhile, the two husbands are played by Cameron Zona '22 and Bill Benton. They alternate between jealous and oblivious during all of the attempted seductions. LEC Theatre Major Cameron Zona said, “I've really been enjoying seeing the comedy come to life off the page. This play is very theatrical!"
The cast is an exciting mix of students, local actors, and performers from the Cleveland area. Webb is an experienced actor and clown performer who played Stefano in the 2016 Cleveland Shakespeare Festival production of The Tempest. The rest of the cast includes students Isabelle Laughlin, Kayla Clark '23 and alum Richard Keay '13, as well as Emily McGrath and Jackie Welch. This performance is part of Zona's BFA senior project and the November 7 matinee will be followed by a Q&A session, where and Zona with Jaffe and the rest of the cast will field questions about the play.
The rehearsals and the performances are being staged in accordance with all current State of Ohio and Lake Erie College COVID-19 policies. Notably, Jaffe is only selling half the seats in order to prevent overcrowding. Also, all guests to the college are expected to wear masks while in public spaces.
Set and lights are by long-time collaborator LEC alum Julie Harter '07 and the Assistant Stage Manager is Zacharia Simon '24. This live performance as well as the live stream will be presented at no charge, although the Theatre Department accepts donations.