If theater directors find themselves facing a lack of available actresses in the next few months they will have to blame director Barbara Gaines, whose all-female production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” running Sept. 16 – Oct. 12, will put 13 of the city’s most accomplished actresses (along with a few “guests”) on the stage of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Gaines’ re-imagined production, with Shakespeare’s script featuring additional dialogue by Second City’s Ron West, is “set in 1919, amidst suffrage marches in Chicago, [and] will be framed by the story of a women’s theater troupe preparing for their production of ‘Shrew,”’ according to today’s announcement. The cast includes Faye Butler, Hollis Resnik, Heidi Kettenring, Tina Glushenko, Kate Marie Smith, Lillian Castillo and Cindy Gold, along with Ann E. James, Rita Rehn and Faith Servant, with each actress performing dual roles as a suffragette and “Shrew” character.
Leading the company will be Alexandra Henrikson (as Mrs. Louise Harrison and Katherine, the “shrew”) and Crystal Lucas-Perry (as Mrs. Victoria Van Dyne and Katherine’s suitor, Petruchio). Henrikson appeared on Broadway in Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark.” Lucas-Perry performed Off Broadway in “Storm Still: A King Lear Adaptation,” and in Lincoln Center’s “Bull in a China Shop.” Olivia Washington will play Mrs. Emily Ingersoll and Katherine’s sister, Bianca. She appeared Off Broadway as Laura in “The Glass Menagerie,” and in such films as “The Butler” and “The Comedian.”
In a prepared statement, Gaines observed: “There is a supreme power in reclaiming this story to be told by women, particularly now. Looking at this play through a woman’s eyes brings the play’s themes into sharp focus with wit, wisdom, and humor, and sheds new light on Shakespeare’s characterizations of both men and women, and their relationships. These women are wickedly smart, and strong — and they will not be tamed.”