Season Selects: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Posted February 28, 2023

APT Web Hero 1500x600 Merry Wives

Season Selects are back as we get ready for the 2023 season! Read up on the plays and get the dish from Artistic Director Brenda DeVita. This week, join us as we dive a little deeper into William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Terri McMahon

Fast Facts

Playing: Hill Theatre | June 10 - October 8
Featuring: Tracy Michelle Arnold, Dee Dee Batteast, Kelsey Brennan, Teri Brown, Nate Burger, David Daniel, Jim DeVita, Tim Gittings, Kailey Azure Green, Casey Hoekstra, Rasell Holt, Reginald A. Jackson, Josh Krause, Jamaque Newberry, Ronald Román-Meléndez, James Ridge & Marcus Truschinski.
Genre: Shakespeare Comedy
Last Seen at APT:
Go If You Liked: Love's Labour's Lost (2022), The Taming of the Shrew (2021)

About The Merry Wives of Windsor

Shakespeare could be a real charmer when he set his mind to it. Case in point, this very play. It’s so full-on funny, yet so down to earth, set amidst a middle-class burg where people love to party, and aren’t above a little well-meaning practical jokery. All this revelry urged on by Mesdames Ford and Page, two ladies who’ve got that town wrapped around their delightful little fingers. Which will come in handy when Falstaff comes calling. He’s a Knight with hilariously high self-esteem, a total lack of self-awareness and a limitless appetite for good times. The lengths he will go to find a lady to subsidize his shenanigans is endlessly entertaining. A festive, uplifting comedy with just a pinch of wickedness; a sure-fire winner on a summer evening.

We open our 2023 Seasons Selects series with a love-letter to the joyous and effervescent Merry Wives of Windsor. It’s one big, mischievous sugar rush with soul. Dating back to 1597, The Merry Wives of Windsor comes to 2,612 lines, which puts it right above Much Ado at 2,581 lines, but right below Julius Caesar at 2,636.

The not-so-secret ingredient of Merry Wives that keeps audiences returning to its hijinks and heart year after year is the community of Windsor at its center. Shakespeare celebrates this town, and the regular people who call it home, in a way that was new for the time. Most of the dramatic focus of the period was cast either to the fantastical or to the noble, ruling class. (Side note: The last play Shakespeare completed prior to Merry Wives was Hamlet, and we don’t need to tell you about that castle and that Prince.)

Instead, Merry Wives turns to the people we identify with on a fundamental level - a community made up of families and friends that would have felt familiar to audiences in 1600. The town feels not only lived in, but loved, by all the people who call it theirs.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita says:

Merry Wives! This play is just so much fun. You have this strong, supportive, hilarious friendship between these two strong, supportive, hilarious women at the center. And then the next ring around that relationship is this lovely community. Windsor, which is, in this production, a town in the throes of a wonderful time - lots of music, lot of dancing, lots of color - set in a middle-class community. And even though it’s not without some tension (like who will Anne Page end up with in the end? and whose husband may be a little on the jealous side?), it's so clear that these folks like each other, and want to have fun together, and that they have each others’ backs. So when Falstaff (played by David Daniel, who you know is going to just going to get after this role with his whole being) comes to town looking for a good time, with this absurd lack of self-awareness about his station, he arrives with these ridiculous plans that are so transparent to the folks in Windsor. And they decide to mess with him, and the town comes together to kind of teach him a lesson and to put him in his place. But it’s in a funny and gentle way that leads to these beautiful opportunities for forgiveness and for understanding. It’s really a delight, and it just fits on our stage and in our woods so perfectly. It’s a romp.

Want to learn more?

A Modern Perspective: The Merry Wives of Windsor by Natasha Korda | Folger Shakespeare Library

The Merry Wives of Windsor at American Players Theatre (2015)