Shakespeare Returns To Voelker Orth Museum

William Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” – a romance that includes a wicked stepmother, a female character masquerading as a man, swordplay, and an offstage decapitation – is an exciting showcase for acting talent and the cast makes the most of it!

One of the two plays the Hip to Hip Theatre group will perform this summer in parks all over Queens, it was presented on July 30 in the beautiful garden of the Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing.

The plot involves a princess, Imogen, beautifully played by Joy Marr, who secretly marries Posthumous (Jason Marr), whom her father banishes. Her stepmother (played by Nancy Nichols, who is wonderfully regal) wants her to marry her son Cloten (also played by Jason Marr, who does an incredible job switching from a noble character to an overemotional one). While they’re apart, Posthumous meets Iachimo (well played by T.J. Gainley), who gets him to bet on whether he can seduce his wife. Failing to do so, he tricks her husband into believing he has succeeded and Posthumous sends a servant, Pisanio (the excellent Lawryn Lacroix), to kill her. Mercifully, he lets her escape to the woods, where, disguised as the male Fidele, she finds refuge with Belarius (the very talented Guy Ventoliere), and his adopted sons, Guiderius  and Arvirigus (played by talented newcomers Drew Bloom and Amanda Thickpenny). In the end, she is reunited with her husband (after he learns the truth about her innocence) and her long-lost brothers…Guiderius and Arvirigus!

Before each performance begins, a short session called “Kids and the Classics” introduces children to theatrical basics. At Voelker Orth, Caitlin Cassidy led kids from the audience through a couple of fun noise-making exercises, described the Shakespearean poetry rhythm of iambic pentameter as sounding “like a pirate with a wooden leg” and then introduced a death scene contest.

“Move apart,” she said. “I don’t want anyone dying on anyone else.”

On Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m., “Cymbeline” takes place in Crocheron Park; on Aug. 9 the show will go on in Gantry Plaza State Park; on Aug. 14 in Cunningham Park; and on Aug. 16 in Agawam Park. On Aug. 13, the group returns to Voelker Orth with “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” which will also be presented on Aug. 8 in Sunnyside Gardens Park, and on Aug. 10 in Socrates Sculpture Park. Admission is free, and souvenir T-shirts are available. For more information, visit www.hiptohip.org.

–Barbara Arnstein