Montford Park Players Opens 2017 with The Merchant of Venice

Montford Park Players, an Asheville theatrical tradition, is proud to announce their upcoming production of The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare.

The performances will be held at the BeBe Theatre, located at 20 Commerce St. in the heart of Downtown Asheville, from March 10-26 on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

This performance, like all of Montford Park Players’ shows, will be absolutely free to attend.

Although the play is often thought of as a drama, it is actually a romantic comedy, utilizing many of Shakespeare’s regular tricks of mistaken identity and found love. The character of Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, is one that is still controversial. Whereas anti-Semitism was largely the norm in Elizabethan England, modern productions have to find their own takes on this plot point.

“Shylock is a very complex character,” said the play’s director and Montford Park Players Artistic Director, Scott Keel. “It’s difficult to skirt the issue with the show, but while that element is a big part of the text, we still must remember that Merchant is a comedy, first and foremost. I know I’m riding a fine line, but Montford has never shied away from Shakespeare’s intricacies.”

The play was last performed by the Montford Park Players in 2013, directed by Jason Williams, and was one of that season’s most popular offerings. Montford is happy to bring it back as part of its indoor productions. “The BeBe offers an intimacy and opportunity to see every nuance up close,” says Keel. “Last year’s Julius Caesar sold out every performance, so it shows that audiences are willing to get their Shakespeare from us on the small-scale as much as they are at the Amphitheatre.”

The Merchant of Venice is one of the world’s most performed plays, even over 400 years since it was first presented. This production’s stellar cast includes Steve Samuels as Shylock and Devyn Ray as Portia along with other MPP favorites Julianne Arnelle, Will Storrs, Badi Mirheli, and James Curley, among others.

Montford Park Players, has been presenting Shakespeare and other classical works to the Asheville community since 1973, and has since grown to be one of Western North Carolina’s most beloved and well-known cultural attractions.

For more information or to reserve seats, go to montfordparkplayers.org, or call at (828) 254-5146.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the news editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment tab and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for more almost six years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.