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Three stories, one play, same big ambitions

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The “Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella” ensemble on stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jenny Graham
 Posted: 8:20 AM April 19, 2012

A musical, theatrical tour de force, "Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella" features full productions of plays by Euripides, Shakespeare and Rodgers and Hammerstein, respectively, existing at once on the same stage.

"As different as these plays are from one another, the themes that they share are striking," says Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Bill Rauch in a video posted on the festival's website. "All three plays are title character journeys. They all deal with the theme of ambition, and there's someone in each play that covets a throne. There's magic in all three plays, and themes of transformation. They have so much in common."

The show previews at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, and opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland. Rauch and Tracy Young adapted the stories and co-direct.

If you go

What: "Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella"

When: Previews at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, and opens at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21

Where: Angus Bowmer Theatre at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 15 S. Pioneer St., Ashland

Tickets: Prices start at $21 to $75.50

Call: 541-482-4331 or 800-219-8161 or see www.osfashland.org

Rauch became interested in this pet project when he was in college and heard a reference to the three great populist movements in Western drama: Greek tragedy, Elizabethan drama and the American musical.

"I was interested in what made something populist," he says in the video. So he took examples of each of these movements and laid them side by side to see what could be learned about the rhythms of popular storytelling.

"The synchronicity is unbelievable," Rauch says. "The shared rhythms and events synchronized with parallel events thrilled me."

The first production of Rauch's passion project was at his alma mater, Harvard College. Iterations followed in 1998 by Cornerstone Theater Company and The Actors' Gang in Los Angeles (where Young joined the ride) and in 2002 at Yale Repertory Theatre.

"When I thought about doing 'M/M/C' at OSF, I thought of our audiences," Rauch says. "We have the best audiences in the world. They listen so deeply, and they're so smart and so curious. I think the way these plays talk to each other will be a feast for OSF audiences.

"The tones of each play affect the other two," Rauch adds. "You've got this fluffy musical comedy, sweet and romantic, and two tragedies. The way the tragedy of Lady Macbeth's story affects Cinderella, and the way Cinderella's optimism affects Medea's story, is palpable and very moving. So it is sometimes surprisingly funny and often haunting.

"A critic once said that 'M/M/C' is 'a spectacularly long bridge through the history of Western theater.' "

It's also one of the largest-scale projects ever mounted in the Angus Bowmer Theatre by OSF, according to a news release.

Music also is at the center of "M/M/C," and features the score of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," along with Greek choral odes in "Medea," with music and lyrics written by Shishir Kurup and arranged with additional music by David Markowitz, and music and soundscape for "Macbeth" designed by Darron L. West.

Other creative team members are choreographer Sabrina Peck, music director Matt Aument, scenic designer Rachel Hauck, costume designer Deborah M. Dryden, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind and associate music director (and conductor and pianist) Darcy Danielson, among others. The cast of 26 features an all-female "Medea" cast, an all-male "Macbeth" cast, and a mixed "Cinderella" cast.

"Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella" runs through Nov. 3. Ticket prices range from $21 to $85.50 are available online at www.osfashland.org or by calling the box office at 541-482-4331 or 800-219-8161.


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