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Theatre Review (LA): A Wither’s Tale by Shakespeare and Matt Walker at the Falcon Theatre

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It is easy to forget that Troubadour Artistic Director, Matt Walker, is not only a graduate of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College, but was also trained at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Following their mad romp into the world of Chips the “Troubies” are now bringing us to Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale with the help of the music of Bill Withers (“Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and “Just The Two of Us”). They call their creation A Wither’s Tale. It is a rather sober and somber piece so it’s fitting that Withers’ mellow and often sad music would be the choice for musical accompaniment.

“Troubie” fans will not be surprised, because the troupe has ventured to the land of the Bard before with Hamlet, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, OthE.L.O., and Fleetwood Macbeth to name only a few. Actually they seem to divide their shows between Shakespeare and Christmas Shows (JACKson Frost, Santa Claus is Coming To Motown).

Matt Walker plays the Leontes character here. There are plenty of laughs but also a certain reverence for the text, so some scenes or parts of scenes are played straight. Along for the ride are some “Troubie” vets like the talented Lisa Valenzuela who is a founding member, the golden-voiced Matt Merchant, Monica Schneider as the hapless Queen Hermione, Mike Sulprizio who is another founding member, and my favorite, the reappearance of Jabberwocky from Alice in One-Hit Wonderland as Bear. You have to have the Bear because Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction is “exit Antigonus pursued by a Bear.”

The singing, clowning, acrobatics only get better each time and I feel that A Wither’s Tale is a hit for the company and the Falcon Theatre. A Wither’s Tale will be shown until Sept 26th. But never fear, the Troubadour Theatre Company will be back for Christmas with The First Joel. This company is unique and a real jewel in the Southland’s theatrical landscape.

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