The Nashville Shakespeare Festival will present the powerful tragedy Othello, featuring Eddie George in the title role, Jan. 9 through Feb. 2, at Belmont University’s Troutt Theatre.
“Othello is a stunningly human play as well as a suspenseful psychological thriller,” said Denice Hicks, the festival’s artistic director. “The Nashville Shakespeare Festival last staged this play 23 years ago, and the story is as relevant and worthy of our attention as ever.”
George made his Shakespearian debut in the festival’s 2012 winter production of Julius Caesar. “It is a thrill and honor to have Eddie George back on our stage,” Hicks said. “His performance in Julius Caesar proved that he has the skills to play Shakespeare, but as Othello, he will have the opportunity to show his emotional range.”
George is the former Tennessee Titan star running back and Heisman Trophy winner whose many roles now include entrepreneur, sports commentator, motivational speaker and philanthropist.
“I am really excited to work with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival again,” George said. “This is such a strong ensemble. I pray that we maintain the integrity of the play and all that it has to offer, and tell this story with a great deal of truthfulness.”
Jon Royal, who has performed in several festival productions, makes his festival directorial debut in Othello. Cast members include Nat McIntyre as Iago, Laura Crockarell as Desdemona, Erin Parker as Emilia, and Eric D. Pasto-Crosby as Cassio. Several Nashville theatre favorites are also in the cast, including Derek Whitaker, Ross Bolen, Jennifer Richmond, Brad Oxnam and Jaye Phelps.
Hicks said that the actions of the fictional soldiers Othello and Iago bring to question the damage that war can do to the human psyche. “Watching Iago weave his web of deceit and betrayal is fascinating, and watching his victims fall prey to him is maddening,” Hicks said. “Iago is one of those villains that we love to hate.”
Opening night is Thursday, Jan. 9, and the show runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through Feb. 2. Evening performances start at 7:30 pm; Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 pm.
“As always, we will present Shakespeare’s poetry in its original form, edited to fit within a two-hour performance,” Hicks said. “We are not setting the play in any specific time or place because the story has such a universal theme. Through the ages, betrayal remains one of the most devastating human experiences.”
The play is recommended for those aged 10 and up. For tickets to the public performances, visit the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, or call 615-852-6732. Also, for the first time, a Winter Shakespeare Royal Package with premium reserved balcony seating and numerous other perks is available.
To purchase tickets for school matinees, which are scheduled Jan. 8-31 at 10 am, e-mail Nettie Kraft at firstname.lastname@example.org
Othello is funded in part by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission. In addition, winter production sponsors are Belmont University and the National Endowment for the Arts Presents Shakespeare in American Communities.