Nashville Shakespeare Festival director Denice Hicks may be on to something here: The willful, self-absorbed, charismatic and murderous Richard, Duke of Gloucester--star of one of Shakespeare's more notorious tragedies--trods the boards as an over-the-top vaudevillian. Hicks' re-imagining promises broad strokes--clowning, deluded and defiant babes, even a little traveling piano music--along the way to relating the demise of one of theater history's most self-aggrandizing schmucks. In the title role is Nashville newcomer Navada Shane Morgan, supported by an interesting mix of players whose prior experience represents all levels of local stage life, including community, college, equity professional and dinner theaters. Among the cast are John Silvestro, Tom Mason, David Wilkerson, Phil Perry, Jessejames Locorriere, R. Alex Murray, Benjamin Reed, Nan Gurley, Brenda Sparks, Wesley Paine and Claire Syler. Hicks has gathered first-rate talent for her creative team, too, with sets by Paul Gatrell, costumes by June Kingsbury, lighting by Anne Willingham and music by Tom McBride. It sounds like the classics with pointed fun, and with luck we'll all get a nicely timed and cathartic jolt of joy witnessing the celebrity personality in extremis.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 15. Continues through Feb. 1, 2009