Rubber City Shakespeare Launches Summer Season

by HEATHER BEYER | reporter Published:

Akron -- While most of the campus at The University of Akron was quiet for summer recess, the cast and production staff of Rubber City Shakespeare were hard at work staging their summer productions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

The company is comprised of 12 college and professional actors who will perform both shows in true rotating repertory, presenting a different show every other night. The shows started June 25, and runs Thursday through Sunday until July 13, with no performance on July 4. All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students (14 and older), and $8 for youth (7 through 13).

All performances are in Schrank Hall South at The University of Akron. Address is: 240 Carroll Street Akron, OH 44325.

Both productions are sponsored by The University of Akron's College of Education.

Company Founder and Artistic Director Dane C. T. Leasure said it had always been a dream of his to start his own theatre company, even when he was an undergraduate at The University of Akron.

"I always wanted to start a theatre company and wanted to do it in Akron," he said.

Determined to make his dream a reality, Leasure went to study at Mary Baldwin College in West Virginia where he earned a MFA and M. Litt. in Shakespeare and Performance.

As part of the program, Leasure was charged in establishing his own theatre company.

"The faculty gave us ten thousand dollars and from there they expect us to plan a season, do all the press work, the marketing, acting, directing, and design," he said. "We had to do it all in a company of twelve actors."

And he did.

On March 2013, Leasure went public and officially launched the Rubber City Shakespeare Company in Akron. His mission is to bring "free and affordable Shakespeare and classical drama to the greater Akron area."

For it's first production the new classical Shakespeare Company performed "A Mid Summer's Nights Dream" in the summer of 2013, "Twelfth Night" last Oct. and "Julius Caesar" this spring.

"Last summer was sort of the grand experiment for the company," Leasure said. "I said let's just run a show, run it for the weekend and see what type of reception we get. If we don't get an audience or we don't do well then maybe this just isn't the time to do this."

Now a year later the production company is staging "Romeo and Juliet" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

Audiences can expect to become part of one of most tragic romances ever written as they watch Rubber City Shakespeare Production of "Romeo and Juliet."

Who else could transform a college lecture hall into the picturesque setting fitting to stage one of the most heart wrenching classics of all time?

Director Kelly Elliott can.

"I wanted to really capitalize on the youth of the cast, as well as, the space that we are performing in," Elliot said on June 18. "That coupled with the fact that most of my students are in college, just out of college, or look like they should still be in college. It kind of made sense."

Elliott said the atmosphere that pulls the show together is that everyone is "here for a Shakespeare English Class" to review "Romeo and Juliet" for the test next class.

"What better way to review for it then by having a reading of it which then evolves as the students get really passionate and caught up in the story themselves."

Allison Good, 25, graduated from The University of Akron in 2011, and dreamed of playing the part of Juliet since she was a young girl. Her dream finally came true when she got the role in late April.

"I never thought it was going to happen," Good said. "And then it did. It was a pretty awesome moment."

Opening night on June 28 will bring a range of emotions for Good as she takes the stage to play a role of a lifetime.

"It will definitely be emotional," she said as a tear fell from her eye. "My mom passed away a week after I got cast so it will be weird not to have her here. I know she has been watching me and helping me but it will be my first show without her."

On April 30 after an 11 years, Good lost her mother to a courageous battle with cancer. Good said her mother was on a breathing machine when she told her she got the part. In that moment, Good said that her mother was so happy for her that she it nearly brought her to tears.

"It was like a gift for her to know," Good said. "She knew how anxious I was to get the part."

On opening night and every night Good takes the stage she will think of her mom, who will be by her side in spirit as she makes her own dream come true.

"If she were here she would probably tell me to keep my chin up and wow them and do awesome like you always do."

For tickets, visit www.rubbercityshakes.com/tickets.html

Contact reporter Heather Beyer at 330-541-9432 or hbeyer@recordpub.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RPCNewsLeader?fref=nf

Twitter: @hbeyer12

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.