William Shakespeare's tragic political thriller, Julius Caesar, opens Aug. 7 at the Gesa Power House Theatre in Walla Walla.
But this is no ordinary Shakespearean production because women -- most of whom are portraying men -- comprise the entire cast.
Director Vanessa Miller wanted to produce a play where both girls and boys could identify with the characters of Rome.
"When we first held auditions, I wasn't planning to do an all-female production," Miller said. "But after a couple of days of auditions, I couldn't ignore the obvious."
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Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7-9 with a 2 p.m. matinee Aug. 10. Tickets cost $24 to $29 and are available at the Power House Theatre box office, at www.phtww.com or by calling 509-629-0584.
If you're unfamiliar with ancient Rome and the rule of Caesar, then Miller gives this synopsis about the plot of this play.
It is the feast of Lupercalia, and the infamous general Julius Caesar is offered the crown of Rome by his protg and distant kinsman Marc Antony. Caesar initially refuses the crown but eventually accepts. His popularity is a source of concern to several prominent citizens -- particularly his rival Cassius, who envies Caesar and plots with his brother-in-law Brutus and others to assassinate him.
Cassius intends to kill Marc Antony as well, but Brutus dissuades him so Antony can give the eulogy at Caesar's funeral. Big mistake, because Antony avenges his friend's death with the aid of Caesar's great-nephew Octavius Caesar. Brutus and Cassius must flee Rome.
Northwest actors portraying the lead roles are Therese Diekhans as Julius Caesar, Terri Weagant as Marc Antony, Amy Thone as Cassius, Suzanne Bouchard as Brutus, and Meg McLynn as Portia.
There's a philosophical side to Miller's decision to cast all women, she said.
"I am also an educator and mother of a 10-year-old girl, and I know when young people watch plays or read stories, they often look for themselves in the story, a character they can relate to," Miller said. "I wanted a female to play Brutus, and I expected to cast some female actors to play a couple of conspirators."
What changed her mind was the multitude of talented actresses who stepped forward wanting to tackle the male roles.
"Casting all females for this production was the right thing to do," she said.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal