Shakespeare fest, Starlight announce next season's shows

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival will stage “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the summer of 2009, with veteran actor Phil Fiorini in the role of Falstaff.

This will be the first time the festival has presented “Merry Wives” and the first time Sir John Falstaff has appeared on the festival stage. Falstaff, who appears in Parts 1 and 2 of “Henry IV” as well as “Merry Wives,” is one of Shakespeare’s greatest roles — oversized in almost every way.

“I love the comedy,” Fiorini said. “I love playing someone with that physique. And I love his false sense in this play of bravura and confidence. I like that he thinks he still has it in him to woo the merry wives.”

“The Merry Wives of Windsor” will run June 16 through July 5 in Southmoreland Park.

In other plan-your-summer-in-advance news, outgoing president and executive producer Bob Rohlf and incoming president and executive producer Denton Yockey announced three of the next summer’s shows before performances of “Les Miserables.”

Slated are “Legally Blonde,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Mama Mia!

Starlight officials said the remaining two shows would be announced soon.

And Actors Theatre KC announced at performances of “A Lesson From Aloes” that its final production of the 2008-2009 season would be Ariel Dorman’s Latin American political drama, “Death and the Maiden.” The show runs Jan. 9-25 at the Off Center Theater in Crown Center.

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— Robert Trussell