Veteran actor Colin Lane portrays the role of Macduff in Elm Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth. This season marks Lane’s 16th show performed at New Haven’s bucolic Edgerton Park, under the direction of the company’s artistic director and founder, Jim Andreassi.
This summer’s production is directed by Allyn Burrows and Andreassi is featured in its title role. In June, Andreassi and his wife Margaret, Elm Shakespeare’s managing director, moved to Milford. They have two grown children, Nicholas, 21, and Megan, 25.
Upcoming performances for Macbeth are this week through Sunday, Aug. 26, and Tuesday, Aug. 28, to Sunday, Sept. 2, at 8 pm. Edgerton Park is at 75 Cliff Street. There is no admission charge; however, suggested donations are $20, adults, and $10, students.
“Why do I keep coming back each summer to Elm Shakespeare? It’s Jim,” said Lane. A native of Ireland, Lane’s lilting, articulate voice is pleasant to the ear, holding just a hint of a thicker brogue than it used to carry. “He’s irreverent. It’s a wonderful atmosphere he creates in his company.”
Two accomplished theater artists in their own right, Lane and Andreassi have known each other professionally for more than 20 years. “This is the first time, though, where we’ve shared the stage together and it’s a lot of fun,” Andreassi said. “Colin is an actor of incredible passion. He has a heartbreaking moment in the play that he does just beautifully.”
Swapping compliments, Lane pointed out that Elm Shakespeare’s founder has a knack for drawing talent from New York City and Boston’s theater communities to his productions. Along with Burrows, who is head of Boston’s Actors’ Shakespeare Project, this summer’s Macbeth also includes American theater legend Alvin Epstein.
“The set, sound and costumes are truly top-notch, too,” Lane added.
Sound designer for Macbeth is Nathan Roberts. Elizabeth Bolster and Jamie Burnett are responsible for the production’s costumes and lighting.
Although he’s recently seen several modern takes on Macbeth, Andreassi chose a more traditional interpretation for the New Haven stage. “The men are in kilts and the play is set in a time familiar to Shakespeare,” he explained.
This Shakespearean tragedy has had a longtime hold on Andreassi. “I read it for the first time in high school,” Andreassi explained. “There is something about the witches and the mayhem that ensues that I always found compelling.”
Coincidentally, Lane played the role of Macbeth 10 years ago under Andreassi’s direction.
Lane describes this production as “frighteningly explosive.”
Performed in slightly under two hours, Lane said, “It’s daring and fast and furious. It’s about war and what happens when civilization breaks down.”
Response to last weekend’s opening was positive. “It was really good,” Lane said. “The audience seemed to really like it.”
The cast’s opening night, though, was also its first night onstage working with technical elements. “Our dress rehearsal was washed out,” Lane explained. “We were flying by the seat of our pants but it all worked out.”
When they attend Macbeth, audiences are invited to bring a picnic dinner. “The park is just beautiful,” Lane continued. “It’s quite lovely. There’s a nice summery feel in the air.”
Before the recession hit a few years ago, Elm Shakespeare Company produced two plays each summer. Andreassi is optimistic that once the economy stabilizes, the company will return to this popular format. During those summers, more than 30,000 people enjoyed Shakespeare and classic live theater productions.
Each show costs about $300,000 to produce, Andreassi noted. Corporate sponsors, business and private donations are always welcome.
For more information, go to Elmshakespeare.org.