The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Department of Theatre & Drama
December 7-10, 2017 • Power Center
Down on his luck and eager to refill his purse, Sir John Falstaff devises a romantic scheme to solve his financial woes. What could possibly go wrong when the oh-so clever bon vivant sends identical love letters to two married ladies? Plenty, when the merry wives of Windsor unite in mischief to avenge the would-be libertine’s impertinence. Calamity is inevitable when a rash, jealous husband and two sweet, head-over-heels young lovers join the imbroglio. The play is filled with boisterous pranks and clever parody right up to Sir John’s comeuppance – or will Falstaff ultimately get the last laugh?
Written around 1597, The Merry Wives of Windsor gives Shakespeare’s most unforgettable personality, Falstaff, his own tale. Rumored to have been written at the specific request of Queen Elizabeth I, The Merry Wives has become one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies and his only farce. The play features a plethora of riotous characters, from the witty, wily wives, to comic low lifes, and to its larger-than-life main man. Shakespeare’s talent as a playwright is well evidenced in this hilarious romp where both those on stage and in the audience are ensured a thoroughly delightful time.
Director: John Neville-Andrews
Scenic Designer: Gary Decker
Costume Designer: Christianne Myers
Lighting Designer: Mark Allen Berg
Hair & Makeup Designer: Sarah Norton
Choreographer: Kristi Lynn Davis
Stage Manager: Amanda Wilson
The Town of Windsor
Master Frank Ford: Jackson Verolini
Mistress Alice Ford: Christiana Moyle
Master George Page: Julian Schwartz
Mistress Margaret Page: Mallory Avnet
Anne Page, their daughter: Jillian Garner
Robert Shallow, Esquire: Oren Steiner
Abraham Slender, cousin of Shallow: Kyle Prue
Sir Hugh Evans, a Welsh Parson: David Newman
Dr. Caius, a French Physician: Jeffrey James Fox
Host of the Garter Inn: Lauren Kenner
Mistress Quickly, Dr. Caius’s Housekeeper: Juliana Tassos
John Rugby, a servant to Dr. Caius: Gian Perez
Peter Simple, a servant to Slender/Robert, a servant to the Fords: Wyatt Stromer
John, a servant to the Fords: Jonathan Hull
Sir John Falstaff: Liam Loomer
Pistol, follower of Falstaff: Jonathan Keammerer
Nym, follower of Falstaff: Sam Dubin
Bardolph, follower of Falstaff: Aaron Weinstein
Robin, Page to Falstaff: Austin Friedberg
Master Fenton, a young gentleman: Ted Gibson
Rumor has it that Queen Elizabeth I so enjoyed the character of Sir John Falstaff in the Henry IV, Part I and II plays that she requested Shakespeare to write a play where Falstaff is in love. Well, she obviously didn’t get the play she expected. Oh, Falstaff in Merry Wives is in love alright, but mainly with himself and money. What she did get, in my estimation, was one of the Bard’s most delicious and robust comedies, his only farce.
It is also said that Shakespeare wrote the play in fourteen days, and some critics say it shows. This play has received a great deal of derision over the years – considered intellectually slight, having little or no depth to the characters – just a bunch of country bumpkins posing as middle class. I have to respectfully disagree with all these critics. I think Shakespeare has given us a play of true comic depth; he bestowed upon us a gallimaufry of rich, vibrant characters who possess individual and hilarious personalities and who energetically demonstrate a lust for life.
So sit back and relish the panoply of eccentrics in Windsor. Luxuriate in Falstaff’s uproarious machinations to gain wealth as well as an amorous liaison with not one, but two, women. Delight in the power of friendship, social acceptance and a community restored to its original collective harmony.
— John Neville-Andrews, November 2017