The Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival has completed their casting for their inaugural performance, casting Steven O’Brien as the lead Prospero in “The Tempest”.

“(O’Brien) is an accomplished classical actor and we’re very lucky to be working with him,” says Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Director Jamie Weeder. “I was looking for something very specific for Prospero and I knew that (he) could deliver.”

Based in New York, O’Brien has worked in the Great Lakes state before with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, Performance Network, Planet Ant, and Michigan Actors Studio. This will be his first production in the Upper Peninsula.

“The Tempest” is thought to be one of the last plays written by William Shakespeare and focuses on Prospero’s attempts to restore his daughter to her rightful place in Italian aristocracy through manipulation and magic. It is one of Shakespeare’s few plays that has a stricter neoclassical style and was written off by many early generations of theater before rising to fame in the mid-1800’s.

The play has been adapted by many famous artists and thespians from Tchaikovsky, W. H. Auden and Julie Taymor.

Weeder looks to stray away from the cultural norms of traditional casting of the lead to revive the emotional intensity of the play.

“We’re trying to move as far away as possible from the white-bearded sage of Victorian tradition. This Prospero is going to be a little younger, a littler more unpredictable–he controls the elements, but struggles to control his own passions.”

Additional cast members are Patrick Leo Bradley, Taggart Bradley, Chet DeFonso, Alastar Dimitrie, Jonas Greenberg, Christopher Scott Leith, Brian McDonald, Melissa May Neal, Zach Hendrickson and Joshua Thatcher but their roles have not been released.

Performances begin on Saturday, July 18 at 7 p.m., Sunday, July 19 at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 25 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m. at the Presque Isle Bandshell. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, and $8 dollars for seniors and children under twelve.

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