‘Beware the Ides of March!’ -Three Notch Theatre/HSMC Review

It’s that time of year again when the Newtowne Players, who normally do shows at the Three Notch Theatre, move to an outdoor scenic location and perform a Shakespearean play at Historic St. Mary’s City in St. Mary’s City, MD. This time, it’s the drama “Julius Caesar,” running August 9-17, 2019.

“Julius Caesar has returned to Rome, triumphant from the war against Roman General Pompey. The Roman republic is prepared to heap him with new honors, causing concern and dismay among some senators who fear that too much power is held by one man.  Caius Cassius plots a conspiracy to murder Caesar, enlisting the support of the well-respected Marcus Brutus who has misgivings but is finally persuaded that Caesar’s death is necessary for the good of the republic.
The tragedy of Julius Caesar is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history. Although the play is named Julius Caesar, the central drama of the play focuses on Brutus’ struggle between the conflicting demands of honor, patriotism, and friendship. “

-Synopsis from https://www.newtowneplayers.org/

 

“Beware the Ides of March” warns the soothsayer (Mikel Lauren Proulx). As she catches the attention of Mark Antony (Noah Busby) and Julius Caesar (Jonathan Berry)  (photo by Greg Rumpf)

Many people know the story of Julius Caesar and how he is told to “beware the Ides of March.” Much to the dismay and concern of Caesar’s wife Calpurnia, Caesar does not want to be seen as weak and does not heed this warning, which causes some grave consequences for himself.

Cassius (Luke Rowe, behind) and Casca (Randy Tusing, right) make a case for eliminating Caesar to Brutus (Jeff Maher, left). (photo by Greg Rumpf)

Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia (Daelyn Funk) begs Caesar (Jonathan Berry) not to go to the senate after he tells her of the soothsayer’s warning. (photo by Greg Rumpf)

What I really enjoy about going to see these Shakespearean productions is how well the actors, tech crew and the adaptations work together to make Shakespeare easier to comprehend. I have experience reading Shakespearean plays and seeing productions, but I’m not going to lie- a lot of it usually goes over my head and I only end up with a basic understanding. Because of Jenny Meisinger’s adaptation and each of the performers, I was able to have an easier time following along, which helped me have an enjoyable experience. Each actor did an awesome job portraying their characters. I will say that the star performers would have to be Jeff Maher as Brutus and Luke Rowe as Cassius. They have such a commanding stage presence. Rowe’s facial expressions steal the show and make you really wonder what is going on inside the mind of Caius Cassius.

Another actor who stood out to me was Randy Tusing who played Casca. Tusing gave a strong and believable performance throughout the entire production. 

Brutus’ wife Portia, played by Mikel Lauren Proulx, did a great job making the audience laugh, while equally showcasing her love for her husband. Proulx is a talented actress able to portray three different characters with different personalities and mannerisms- she plays the Soothsayer and Messala, as well as Portia.

Brutus (Jeff Maher) pleads for the release of a political prisoner on behalf of Mettalus Cimber (Angela Duff) as Cinna (Jackie Horn, far left) looks on. Caesar (Jonathan Berry) is unmoved. (photo by Greg Rumpf)

The production team, led by director Aaron Meisinger and assistant director Megan Rankin-Herring, did an excellent job making the audience feel as though they were actually in Rome during this time period. To my surprise, there were some audience-interactive moments, such as propaganda being handed out and actors being interspersed in the crowd. Between that and the set design by Jeff Maher and sound design by Jay McKulka, the show felt very realistic. I even thought some of the weather sound effects were actually happening!

When I went to see the show, the weather was pleasant. It was not unbearably hot- it was a comfortable temperature and there were only a few bugs out, which is always a plus! I came prepared this time with a comfy chair, bug spray, and some food and water (though they do have food and beverages available for purchase). Please note that you cannot bring your own alcohol, but you can now purchase some on-site!

Brutus (Jeff Maher) eulogizes Caesar before the people explaining their reasons for his murder. Mark Antony (Noah Busby) and Antony’s servant (Colin Maher) await their turn to sway the crowd. (photo by Greg Rumpf)

Long story short- I would definitely go see this production if you’d like an enjoyable night of theatre at a gorgeous outdoor location!

Performances are:

  • Friday, August 9, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 15, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, August 16, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 17, 2019 @ 7:30 p.m.

For more information and how to buy tickets, please click this link below: https://www.newtowneplayers.org/uploads/7/9/7/1/79710868/faq_julius_caesar_19.pdf

Don’t miss this production! Leave some love in the comments below and let me know what you think!

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