Best Shakespeare Shake-Up 

Richard the Third at the Troutt Theater

Nowadays it's common to see Shakespeare's plays dressed up in '60s tie-dye or even Nazi SS gear in order to engage the dwindling attention span of a modern audience. It's rare that this kind of revisionism goes beyond well-meaning gimmickry, but Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of Richard the Third at the Troutt Theater took the practice to a new level. By setting her telling of the notoriously difficult play within a 1920s burlesque show, director Denise Hicks dissolved confusing plot twists, added a touch of whimsy to the dark proceedings, poetically recalled The Bard's own love for the play-within-a-play, and created opportunities for revelations like Brenda Sparks' show-stopping musical number. Bravo! JOE NOLAN

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