Gannon University Presents a Summer of Shakespeare at Frontier Park

Posted: July 9, 2017

Madness, power and the destructive force of flattery all come to the stage for an innovative production of Shakespeare's "King Lear" at Gannon University's Shakespeare Summer Nights series of free classical theater productions.

Directed by 2017 Gannon graduate Jenna Sulecki, the production features several innovative concepts.

The aging Lear, who divides his kingdom among his three daughters to tragic effect is played by a young man, Gannon student Michael Haas. Lear's faithful daughter Cordelia, is played by Josh Lapping, who also takes the role of Edmund. Lear's fool, portrayed by Gannon student Chase Miles, is a director of sorts for the play-within-a-play concept devised by Sulecki.

Her direction of the Shakespeare classic was informed by her experience as an exchange student at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. Sulecki was one of 22 students in the world, and three in the United States, to be awarded a Government of Ireland International Education Scholarship.

"I fell in love with the process of devising and adapting and creating something fresh and inventive from nothing within an ensemble," Sulecki said of her experience in Ireland. "When I was asked to direct a show for Shakespeare Summer Nights, I knew I wanted to put my devising skills to the test and take a risk and try something new by challenging the plot of a beloved Shakespeare classic. It was a beautiful challenge that I couldn't imagine conquering with a better cast."

The cast is rounded out by Steve DeJohn, JJ Hodges, Abraham Masone, Jesse Olszewski, Claire Perritano and Andrew Roseman.

One evening later, laughter followed tragedy with a production of Shakespeare's beloved pastoral comedy of love and forgiveness, "As You Like It."

The production is the directorial debut of by Karalyn Headley, a senior theatre and communication arts major at Gannon. Of the production, Headley said, "At first glance, 'As You Like It,' can seem a bit disjointed . . . but on review, I saw that the first two acts set up the remainder by establishing our hero's truth and bravery and giving our heroine a reason to rebel."

Headley will take the dual roles of Adam and Martext while her fellow Gannon students Lizzy Merski (Phebe and Amiens) and Megan Hamm (Duke Frederick and Jacques de Boys) will join her onstage.

Gannon University adjunct professor of history Alexandra Holbrook, takes the role of Rosalind, and Katrina Buchanan, Jasse Camacho Vera, Steve DeJohn, Matthew Fuchs, JJ Hodges, Josh Lapping, Ben Robson, Andrew Roseman and Ella Santillano also appear.

"King Lear" will be presented July 10, 12 and 18 at 7 p.m., and "As You Like It" on July 11, 17 and 19 at 7 p.m. at the outdoor amphitheater at the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier, 1501 W. Sixth St. Admission is free. In case of rain, performances will be held at Gannon University's Schuster Theatre, 620 Sassafras St.