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Colonial Williamsburg is offering guests the chance to celebrate the holidays with a style of outrageous humor that has inspired comedians from the Marx Brothers to Mr. Bean.
Harlequin’s Holiday, which debut’s this Thursday at the Kimball Theatre, is presented in the style of commedia dell’arte, a type of comedy created in 16th century Italy that is responsible for the creation of many comedic tropes and stock characters still in use today.
Luke Schares, the show’s author and a character interpreter with Colonial Williamsburg, was inspired to try his hand at writing within this classic genre based on his experience performing with Mr. Hallam’s Traveling Players- the troupe behind recent Colonial Williamsburg productions such as Sword Play and Servant of Two Masters.
The play centers around the shenanigans of three classic buffoon characters portrayed by Schares, Nigel Brown of Chicago’s Walkabout Theater and Colonial Williamsburg character interpreter Gary Moore. Michael Empson, Austin Fitzhugh, Kent LaRue, Gary Moore, Katharine Pittman and Abigail Rose Reedy will round out the cast.
Classic elements of farce define the comedic style of the show, including lots of physical comedy and visual gags. The play is performed in the silent tradition of pantomime that was “wildly popular in 19th-century England,” according to a recent news release from Colonial Williamsburg.
As with past Hallam’s Players productions, senior manager of performance interpretation Brandon Bruce will direct Harlequin’s Holiday. His creative efforts are complimented by an original musical score from Emmy-winning composer Wayne A. Hill.
“The show is one of the largest theatrical undertakings in Colonial Williamsburg history and draws on the great talents of performers both within the foundation and from around the country,” Bruce said.
Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17-19, 24-27, 29 and 30; and at 2 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets are $18 for adults, $9 for youths ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. Click here to purchase tickets.