Once upon a time, there was a tale of disappointment, loss and redemption.
“The Winter’s Tale” will be presented by Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and July 16-19 at the main pavilion at Stackhouse Park, Westmont.
Director Laura Gordon said “The Winter’s Tale” is an old-fashioned fairy story with kings, queens, magic and potions.
“It’s like a dream, a story you would read to a child,” Gordon said.
“There are changelings, enchantments and magic. It was written at the end of Shakespeare’s career and has elements of all his plays. His source is a story by Robert Greene.”
In the tale, when Leontes, the King of Sicily, is convinced his boyhood friend, Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, has had an affair with his wife, Hermione, he tries to poison him, but his friend escapes.
Leontes then sends his wife to prison, where she gives birth to a daughter, whom the king believes is illegitimate.
He orders the baby to be abandoned in the wilderness, and the mother dies in prison.
The play then shifts to 16 years later in Bohemia, where the king’s daughter is safe and grown up and in love with his friend’s son.
While there is a heavy side to the play at the beginning, the character of time transports the cast to a more lighthearted time and place.
“The play shows the way people do what they do,” Gordon said.
“They can be rash. Shakespeare wrote for the common man. Emotions go from sad to happy. It’s a play. It’s supposed to be fun and entertaining. There’s dancing and singing. Art elevates us to more.”
There is a surprise ending to the play, possibly involving magic, which Gordon did not reveal.
For those fans used to Gordon’s productions featuring hippies, housewives or gunslingers, this year will be straight Shakespeare with traditional costuming.
The music, which is chosen by Gordon’s husband, Brad, will feature Vivaldi, Tom Jones, The Bangles and Simon and Garfunkel.
“Everyone loves the music,” Gordon said.
“Shakespeare’s words become the lyrics.”
Gordon couldn’t be more pleased with her eclectic cast that has such diverse training.
“The casting is perfect,” Gordon said.
“I see their different training. They’ve been a pleasure to work with. During rehearsal, if they add a word that shouldn’t be there, they stop and say, ‘That isn’t right.’ They all have the gift. They’re not amateurs.”
Justin Wested, who will play Leontes, King of Sicily, is returning for his sixth season in this intricate role.
“This is a difficult role for Justin because he has to go from loving someone to being so angry he wants to kill,” Gordon said.
Daniel Freeman will play Polixenes, King of Bohemia, the king’s friend accused of having an affair with his wife.
The king’s wife, Hermione, will be played by Anne Rematt in her first appearance with Band of Brothers.
Rematt has performed at Cresson Lake Playhouse and other theaters and also has acted in Italy and Scotland.
Robb Miller will play Antigonus, the lord ordered to abandon the king’s daughter as a baby.
April Yanko, who studies acting at Point Park University, will return for her fourth year as Perdita, the king’s daughter.
Dominick Carnevali, a recent graduate of Duquesne University with a degree in music education, will make his first appearance with Band of Brothers as Florizel, the only son and heir of Polixenes, who falls in love with Leontes’ daughter.
Chris Smith, who comes to the park for a second summer and also has appeared in productions for TheatreMatters and (un)apologetic productions, will play Archidamus, a lord of Bohemia.
Tony Malvoisin, who has appeared in numerous Band of Brothers’ productions as well as at Cresson Lake Playhouse, Altoona Community Theater and Pitt-Johnstown’s theater department, will play Camillo, a Sicilian nobleman.
Kate Davis, who has her master’s degree in media and performing arts with an emphasis in acting and directing from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is an adjunct professor at Pitt-Johnstown, will play Paulina, a noblewoman of Sicily.
Natalie Kurchak will play Emilia, one of Hermione’s ladies-in-waiting, and Hayes Rakvin will play Mamillius, Leontes’ and Hermione’s son.
Dante Horvath, an incoming sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University who is studying vocal performance and music education, will play Autolycus, a peddler, vagabond and pickpocket.
The remainder of the cast will include Lou Horvath as the shepherd, Luke Brennan as a clown and Illyanna Miller and Lauren Wahl, both as a shepherdess.
Guests may bring their own picnic or purchase on-site food from Ferndale Hockey Moms.
Free shuttles will once again be available from Westmont Middle School into the park.
Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/RuthRiceTD.
What: “The Winter’s Tale.”
When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and July 16-19.
Where: Stackhouse Park, Westmont, main pavilion.
Tickets: $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.