Cymbeline, Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Ruth Page Auditorium
October 15 – November 11, 1989

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Barbara Gaines
Roles: Storyteller and Jupiter

Opening the show as the Storyteller (PHOTO: Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

As Jupiter, providing some deus ex machina (PHOTO: Chicago Shakespeare Theater)


1989-1990 Joseph Jefferson Awards: Best Production, Best Direction (Barbara Gaines), Best Set Design (Michael Merritt) and Best Lighting Design (Robert Shook)

 Critical Response

“Cymbeline” begins as a grand figure in a glittering cape (Johnny Lee Davenport) introduces the major players and sketches their relationships. (This is Gaines’ clever reworking of the play’s original opening.)”
Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times (October 17, 1989)

“The performances are excellent. Director Barbara Gaines has even achieved what sometimes seems impossible—she has taught local actors to speak Shakespeare’s dialogue in an utterly natural, lucid manner.”
Tom Valeo, Daily Herald (October 20, 1989)

Cymbeline yields gorgeous poetry and its own real excitement and pageantry (including lots of cliff-hangers and a knock-out, eleventh-hour guest appearance by the god Jupiter [Johnny Lee Davenport]) . . .  Johnny Lee Davenport’s massive stage presence makes the storyteller larger than life.”
Lawrence Bommer,  Windy City Times (October 26, 1989)

Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s last plays, is not usually ranked among his masterpieces. But the production that opened last week as The Tale of Cymbeline at the Ruth Page Theatre is, hands down, one of the best shows of this or any other season. . . . The 19-member cast is blessed with several outstanding performers, notably . . . Johnny Lee Davenport who doubles as the Storyteller and Jupiter.”
Paul Faberson, Skyline (October 26, 1989)

“The show has its share of contemporary touches: a fantasy-film sensibility in the smoky visual effects that transport the audience to the dreamscape in which the play is set, a high-tech thunder-and-lightning appearance by Jupiter [Johnny Lee Davenport] . . . Gaines has no need for such gimmicks. The cast has the verbal skill and physical presence to give Shakespeare’s poetic images a sense of urgency and immediacy while respecting their formality, and their movements are elegant without being effete. Especially strong impressions are made by . . . Johnny Lee Davenport as the storyteller who frames the action.”
Albert Williams The Chicago Reader (October 27, 1989)

Johnny Lee Davenport as the Storyteller and Jupiter is superb; Jupiter’s entrance alone is worth the price of admission, with fiery explosions, swelling music, and sharp lighting effects. This production is about as Steven Spielberg as Chicago theatre gets.”
John W. Schmid, Gay Chicago Magazine #43
(October 28-November 5, 1989)

“It is difficult to imagine a more perfect production of Cymbeline than that currently running at the Ruth Page Theatre. . . . the cast are all of high caliber . . . Other standouts are Johnny Lee Davenport as Jupiter.”
Clark Baim, Outlines (November 1989)

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