American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
A SHAKESPEAREAN DELIGHT
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. Runs June 10 - October 8.
When the infamous Sir John Falstaff arrives in Windsor, he immediately decides his path to riches lies in finding a wealthy woman to woo. So he sets about writing identical love letters to two married ladies about town – Mistresses Ford and Page. Though the letters fail to have the intended effect, the ladies find them an excellent inlet to toy with Falstaff, resulting in a funny and energetic exploration of marriage, miscommunication and forgiveness, featuring charming characters and hijinks to spare.
Casting subject to change
APT's campy 'Merry Wives' goes walking in a Windsor wonderland
By Lindsay Christians, The Cap Times, June 18, 2023
A weightier Falstaff
By Gwendolyn Rice, Isthmus, June 27, 2023
Whether Queen Elizabeth wanted a comedy written with her favorite theatrical character, Sir John Falstaff, in love, OR, William Shakespeare had a last minute commission to create some entertainment for a big shindig his patron was throwing…it doesn’t really matter. Hundreds of years later we’ve got ourselves “a merry tale of sexual misadventure.” The Merry Wives of Windsor, with utterly recognizable human foibles at its heart, is meant to not only entertain, but actually open our minds – for that’s what laughter does! And, Shakespeare doubles the fun with not just one, but two married women, friends in cahoots, to make Queen Elizabeth’s beloved Falstaff wish his Jumbotron ego had never ever made a play for their sexual charms and family money.
Over and over looking at The Merry Wives of Windsor for APT’s summer of ‘23, I have asked myself, what do Alice Ford and Margaret Page get for their troubles? What kind of cashback, BOGO does the town of Windsor receive for sustaining their identity and denying Falstaff his big win? The answer for me doubles back to: 1) Laughter... ALL the loveable, idiosyncratic townspeople of Windsor ultimately turn toward laughter in response to being pranked, duped, one-upped or singed a little emotionally or monetarily. And 2) Without a Falstaff in their midst, this group of Windsor characters could never have advanced out of the ruts they were in at the top of this merry tale. Watch and see!
We need Falstaffs in our midst to show us what is important and what is not. Sometimes – many times – we secretly love what we disapprove of. As human beings, we hold contradictory realities in our hearts and minds constantly. However, I think we would all relish a little more Falstaff in ourselves: the self-promoter, the seeker of continuous pleasure, and yes, even the liar and the cheat. Because if we press the edges of civil boundaries, or even go beyond like John Falstaff, we may discover possibilities we never imagined for ourselves!
One more word about laughter. There are lots of kinds: the short-lived groaners produced by punchlines. The empathetic “oh no, not that” laughs that we often use as humble preludes to temper our own downfalls. The “we’re all stuck in this together” laughs about politics. But the one that is most enduring to our psyche is the “I know you” kind of laughter that a Mark Twain, Erma Bombeck or name-a-comedian-who-susses-out-the-awkwardness-of-life-for-you. It just makes you feel better. Makes you feel understood. William Shakespeare was an expert at drawing out the I-know-you laughs. Laughter protects our mental health!
I hope you are not only entertained with our Merry Wives – lovingly brought to you by some of the finest actors I have ever seen collected on any stage – but that it will make you want to get cozy with someone. To be a community for a bit. That it will make you want to think generously about laughing at yourself, and others around you, as we trip through this strange and wonderful gift called life together.
- Terri McMahon, Director of The Merry Wives of Windsor