A mystery at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

October 3, 2016


mouse-balcony-2People not from around these parts tend to sniff at the thought that Alabama has a Shakespeare Festival. They imagine it’s some fly-by-night company that performs in a tent down by the river. Well, take a look at this . . .



asf-building-nightDoes this crank your tractor? When we love something, we do it right, and it just so happens, Alabamians adore fine theatre. Actually, we crave it, darlin’.



slide_dsc_1464It had been a few years since I’d visited the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and I was experiencing big-theatre withdrawal symptoms, so my dearest husband whisked me up the road a piece to Montgomery to see the opening night of their newest play, a fabulous Agatha Christie work . . . The Mousetrap!

unspecified-2I thought this play, billed as a true Agatha Christie “who-done-it” would be mysterious and serious, but in reality, it was loaded with humor and quirky fun. Each actor took turns being my favorite on stage, as well as the one I suspected of  . . . well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, now do I?


unspecified-3The costumes and stage were beautiful, and the snow falling outside the window mesmerized all of us Southerners. The ASF produces high quality productions throughout the year, with a mix of true Shakespearian plays, classic and new works, as well as popular children’s plays. The night we were there, Charlotte’s Web was playing at the smaller theatre down the hall. I would have dearly loved to have seen that as well.


In the photo above, the beautiful Jenny Strassburg and Jackson Thompson portray the sweet newlyweds . . . or are they really hiding a secret? Oooo!  In real life, Jenny is actually married to Loren Dunn, who is lounging on the table in the previous photo, and stole the show with his charismatic expressions.


Alabama-Shakespeare-Festival, Leslie Anne Tarabella - blogAfter the performance, the actors gathered for an opening night reception in the lobby with the audience. This little girl was adorable, bravely approaching all of the actors and asking them questions. She stole my heart with her pearls and exquisite manners. Here, actor Brik Berkes, who was wonderful as the heavily accented and charmingly funny Mr. Paravacini, fills his little fan in on behind-the-scene details.



Alabama-Shakespeare-Festival, Leslie Anne Tarabella - blogAnd to compliment a play called, “The Mousetrap,” what did they serve, but cheese and little chocolate mice!


Alabama-Shakespeare-Festival, Leslie Anne Tarabella - blog

Here I am with the amazing Diana Von Fossen, who appeared on stage as the stuffy Mrs. Boyle. Such an elegant beauty in real life and so powerful on the stage. It was great to learn she is married to the Producing Artistic Director of ASF, Geoffery Sherman. Another fun fact is their daughter, Alice Sherman, played the role of Miss Caswell and will portray my all-time favorite next year . . . Mary Poppins! I must-must-must get back to Montgomery for that!



Here’s Diana in character. Was she the guilty one? Was she the victim? You’ll have to see the play yourself to find out!


unspecified-6Here, Lowell Byers and Alice Sherman dazzle the audience with their rapid-fire dialogue. At one point, one of the characters said something like, “I think I know who is responsible” and the man seated in front of me was so wrapped up in the play, he literally lifted his hand and pointed at one of the characters on stage, as if he were part of the play and helping them solve the mystery! That’s a fine example of, “drawing the audience in!”



unspecified-7The endearing Rodney Clark rounded out the eight member cast and lent an air of wisdom and stability to the chaotic characters.


You know what I’m going to say now, because I’ve said it before . . . why not ditch the TV for a night and do something different? Live theatre is so exciting, and life is made for experiencing new things!


If you live in our area, a trip to Montgomery to see a performance at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival is a must. We stayed at The Renaissance Hotel, which was beautiful, and it made for a lovely get-away. If you live out of our area, I know you have local theatre somewhere near you, so don’t wait, get your tickets now!


Click HERE to learn more about the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Leave a Reply

  1. Did you know that this Festival started in my own hometown, Anniston, when the “new” nigh school was built with it’s state of the art theatre facility under the aegis of The Knox Music Club? I saw several productions there when I would visit Mama. The last one I think might have been “Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead” or “The Nutcracker”. It’s been awhile and I don’t remember. I never have been since they defected to Montgomery. (But I kind of understand why.) This production looks like a great deal of fun, and it was so nice of your dearest husband to whisk you off on this little adventure. Maybe we need a little road trip.

    1. I didn’t know all those things! I knew the Blount Family donated much if not all of the land and facilities, but not much more. I’ll need to go back and read the history of it. I love the outdoor grounds with statues and swans. I can always count on you to be “in the know!” Thanks!

  2. We;re very proud of having the Shakespeare Festival here in my home town. I’ve been to several plays there and my daughter and granddaughter have been to quite a few.

    So glad you enjoyed your time here!

    1. Montgomery was so beautiful and I hate we didn’t have time for many other things, although I did get to shop a bit! I want to go back and explore the old downtown area and the river. I saw a lot of renovations going on, so I think Montgomery will be the new hot place to be soon!

  3. What a fun getaway Leslie Anne, and the play sounds wonderful. I am a huge Agatha C fan, I know it was fabulous! Will you be seeing Proof at Theatre 98? I’m curious about that one-

    1. The few Agatha Christie plays I’ve seen or read were always so intriguing. I’d love to see more of her things. I was supposed to see the dress rehearsal of Proof tonight, but had another meeting to attend (just got back and now I wish I’d gone to the play – ha!) But even though I won’t be able to take photos, I’m hoping to attend on a regular night. Let me know if you’re going to be there and perhaps we can make it a date!

  4. Leslie Anne, this production looks amazing. I must get to Montgomery for Mary Poppins! Our state is not all football, and I am so glad that we do both well. Pam @ Everyday Living

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