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Press Release Archive

2018 Press and Reviews

“…a theater festival is not just about seeing a play, it’s about the greater experience that a theater festival offers. A theater festival allows you to see a company of actors performing several different plays in rep, which doesn’t happen often anywhere else. So you get to see the same actor play several different parts in different stories, exploring a wider range than one role typically allows. And when the plays are well chosen (as they are here), they all relate to each other in ways obvious or not so obvious. The fun of a theater festival is when you begin to see similar themes emerging in the seemingly very different plays, in observing how they speak to each other, in making connections. And the best part of a theater festival that’s 100 miles away is that it forces you to leave your daily life behind and immerse yourself in theater, in the community of people coming together to make and experience art, and in all of the extra fun activities that are offered.”
– Cherry and Spoon

“Shows are performed by a company, in repertory, so in a matter of days, you have the opportunity to see the same actors performing different roles in several plays. Not only is it a super impressive feat of acting, but you get the opportunity to really see an actor’s range…Great River Shakespeare Festival is right in our backyard, and it’s a gem not to be missed!

Friends, put Great River Shakespeare Festival on your theater to-do list. Winona is a lovely small town, it’s not terribly far from the Twin Cities, and the theater? Is unbeatable.”

Minnesota Theatre Love

“While at the Great River Shakespeare Festival I was able to see three out of the four shows that they have running in rep. Seeing shows in rep was very fun and something that I had not had the chance to experience before. It adds a new layer to the theater going experience, to be able to make connections between the different shows, and the different characters that one actor may be playing…They also all dealt with intimacy, and the power around it…it [is] these conversations that the Great River Shakespeare festival are having [that] deepen the theater going experience.”

Twin Cities Stages

“….the director, has staged this conclusion in a thoughtful and poignant manner that adds authenticity to the resolution. In the artful hands of this company, it works beautifully. I was left felling satisfied that brighter days lay ahead for all, and that love has triumphed.

Having been aware of the criticisms levied against All’s Well that Ends Well, I am pleased to have had my first encounter with the play by way of Great River Shakespeare Festival’s well-wrought production, which finds its way through the minefield of its deficiencies to provide dramatically gripping, emotionally gratifying theater, while also giving full due to the Bard’s humor. This is a great opportunity to see a seldom staged work by Shakespeare with its best foot forward.”
             -Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway

“Although I have seen Midsummer Night’s Dream multiple times, Great Shakespeare Festival made it feel brand new. The cast is quite small for the show, at only eight people. The actors play multiple characters that are easily distinguishable because of the beautiful and inventive costumes by Rebecca Bernstein. The casting choices also felt very fresh…The entire production was fun and engaged with the audience. I saw it at a matinee, so there were more children in the audience than at the evening show. They all seemed to be having a great time, laughing along with the rest of the audience to the wit of Shakespeare.”
          –  Twin Cities Stages

“It is a total joyride, handily delivering all the fun and laughter the Bard implanted in the play, with fresh new laughs courtesy of Beth Gardiner’s mirthful staging. Without departing from Shakespeare’s narrative and sensibility, Gardiner gives the show a giddy rock and roll feel that instructs us to enjoy ourselves.

I have seen several Midsummer Night’s Dream over the years, and this one is among the most entertaining, engaging, and well-conceived of the lot. When a show is done this well, no matter how familiar the material, it is always welcome back.”

-Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway

The mix of mayhem, gayety and desperation in this theatrical milieu makes a delightful jewel box on which rests the endearing core love story.

Twenty years ago Shakespeare in Love was a joy to see on screen, and it remains a joy on stage today. If anything, its presentation as live theater enhances the essence of the story, which at its heart is a valentine to theater in general, and to the historic crucible—both of which gave rise to the English speaking theater as a major cultural force. Scholz-Carlson and his company of actors, brimming with talent and enthusiasm, make this a joyful time at the theater. ”
         – Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway

Although it’s based on a movie, Shakespeare in Love feels like it was meant for the stage.

The play is dynamically staged with constant movement, exciting fight scenes, and nary a dull moment, even scene changes are accomplished fluidly without pause. A rotating mini stage allows for quick transitions between locations, many of which are onstage at the theater, with clever use of hinted at action behind the curtain. This is the only play I saw in which the entire 16-person company appears, and they’re a fantastic ensemble..”

Cherry and Spoon

“In the midst of #metoo and continued revelations of sexual predation in many walks of life, the themes of Venus in Fur take on new currency. Who bears responsibility for imbalances in sexual power between two individuals? Is it really possible for one party to consent to being subjected to sexual violence—be it physical or emotional? Can a man truly obliterate the position of power conferred by a male-dominated society? These questions spring forth from David Ives’ play and add lines of inquiry to the re-examination of gender roles and power. Great River Shakespeare Festival’s Venus in Fur is both timely and engrossing, with a pair of powerful performances that are likely to stay fixed in memory.
       -Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway

“Watching the show I felt like I was always on my toes, wondering what is really going on with the dynamics of these two characters. Who is in control and what are their motivations. The end of the play is left open and allows the audience to come to their own conclusions around this. There was a post show discussion which may help to clear some things up for some people. In my opinion the play was about someone who was upset with the way that women are often depicted on stage and set off to make a point, a message that I found very powerful in the current Me Too era. Other people in the audience saw the play as being about something else, and that is the beauty of it.”

 –Twin Cities Stages

Other Press

Read what others are have said about past GRSF seasons:

2017 Press and Reviews


…the production is spell binding.

….A muscular production that captures the audience throughout, from Richard’s opening lines, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” through his downfall on the battlefield, where he desperately cries “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Central to this is a fantastic performance by Christopher Gerson in the title role. As malevolent as Richard is, it is impossible to look away from his obsessive quest for power. In Gerson’s portrayal, his steely resolve, unbounded energy, and the wit of his deceit impress even as we are appalled by his horrific thoughts and deeds….”
             -Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway


“…I challenge anyone to watch it without laughing out loud… It is perhaps one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen anywhere”

          – Winona Post

…a total lark… as giddy and funny and slap-happy refreshing as a child running through a lawn sprinkler on a hot summer day…

The humor is low-ball, but always tasteful and with the abundant wit one expects of Shakespeare. While the Bard has done his share of the work, this production, directed by Melissa Rain Anderson, polishes the material to a bright shine. The setting and costumes, the use of music, and the style of performance all underscore the point that we are here for a great time, and nothing more.”
-Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway


“…Children and adults alike will be blown away…by this fantastical true story, based on an untrue story ”
          – Winona Post

Shipwrecked is first and foremost a tour-de-force opportunity for the actor who plays De Rougemont, an opportunity put to superb advantage by Chris Mixon in this production. Mixon narrates the astounding tale of De Rougemont’s life with complete conviction, conveying his own amazement with the unlikely turns his life took. He is tremendously aided by two actors, Michael Fitzpatrick and Maya Jackson, who play all the other roles—a host of characters, with Fitzpatrick especially hilarious as the frisky, face-licking dog Bruno and the aboriginal chief, and Jackson especially memorable as Louise’s mother, his aboriginal bride, and George Newness, The Wide World’s publisher. The acting trio work beautifully together, directed by Rick Barbour with precision as shifts from character to character, and scene to scene, are managed without missing a beat. A scene in which Fitzpatrick is a newsstand vendor hawking copies of The Wide World with Louis’ story to a crowd of customers—each member of that crowd played by Jackson—is a marvel of split-second timing and comic invention.”

-Arty Dorman, Talkin Broadway

…It’s a role tailor-made for Mixon…who somehow keeps up his breathless storytelling, physical acrobatics, and frequent costume changes without ever leaving stage for the full 90 minutes.”
          -Tom Weber, Post Bulletin


“… the most powerful piece of theater I have seen in my life….It was one woman, but a show so immense, so powerful, there almost wasn’t room for her inside that nearly bare black-box theater….”
         –Winona Post

“It is, at times, enthralling, engaging, shocking, tragic, hilarious and profound, and is an important message for us to hear today as talk of war escalates among our politicians and news media.”
 – Jim Gurley in the La Crosse Tribune

2016 Reviews


Arty Dortman, Talkin Broadway (7/8/16)

As You Like It is easily as frothy and giddy as anything Shakespeare wrote. Great River Shakespeare Festival’s production…takes each bauble and polishes it to a bright and merry shine, resulting in a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the virtue of living amid the glory of nature.”


Arty Dortman, Talkin Broadway (7/8/16)

“In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare depicts the mayhem and unintended consequences that result when men take the law into their own hands in the name of principle. It is a stark and violent play, depicting stark and violent times, but with a message that no doubt had bearing in Shakespeare’s day, as it does in our own. Great River Shakespeare Festival has done excellent work with this production at a time when its message might serve us well.”

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