Julius Caesar at Curtain Call’s Shakespeare on the Green (Stamford)

 “Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Since it’s now summer, that means theater sometimes takes place outdoors and, if you’ve caught a few of my reviews, you may have noticed I cover Broadway shows as well as productions in Southern Connecticut. Well, amid the controversy surrounding New York Public Theater’s outdoor production of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ this summer- where Caesar is made to look like President Trump and some corporate sponsors withdrew their support of the Public Theater’s production because of that- I wondered how Curtain Call in Stamford would handle their version of ‘Julius Caesar’ for their annual Shakespeare on the Green event.

  (l to r): Daniel Mann, Rob Nichols & Julia Maggiola

It became clear right away they were going to play it more traditionally… with one notable exception: the key role of Cassius, which I had always seen played by a man, was played instead by Julia Maggiola. And the good news is her portrayal was absolutely riveting and is the highlight of this production, even eclipsing Kevin Thompson’s solid Mark Anthony and Daniel Mann’s capable Brutus.

This casting choice is probably the most successful creative decision by director Kyle Runestad. The stage movements, on the whole, were on the stiff and clunky side and that may be attributed to this possibly being Runestad’s first time in the director’s chair- or that I saw their first public performance- or a combination of both. I was able to find he had many acting credits but none for directing- and the program only listed his name as director, which is unusual, so it is possible this is his first time directing.

But the play is a classic and, even with a few of the actors in smaller supporting roles delivering weak readings, ‘Julius Caesar’ is still a powerful work. And the audience was clearly very appreciative when the full cast of twenty came out for their final bows.

Curtain Call’s ‘Julius Caesar’ in Stamford only runs through July 16th and, though it lacks some polish, overall it is still a worthwhile night under the stars with a classic William Shakespeare work and Julia Maggiola’s excellent performance and I give it 3-and-a-half stars out of 5.

And, as a bonus, the performance is free- with donations encouraged. For show times and more information visit Curtain Call I-N-C-dot- com.

Next week I will review Westport Country Playhouse’s new production of ‘Grounded.’

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”