Lots of laughs at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse

Nicole Galland and Chelsea McCarthy presenting a production of Shakespeare for the Masses. —Photo Courtesy of MV Playhouse

As we progress into the month of April, the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse’s winter season of events will draw to a close, but there’s still time to catch some exciting programming. This weekend, Shakespeare for the Masses will present its Triple Crown: a short, comical production of Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” “Henry IV, Part 1,” and “Henry IV, Part 2.” The following weekend, Wicked Good Musical Revue will wrap its season with an encore performance, and the Poetry Café, led by Martha’s Vineyard poet laureate Arnie Reisman, will hold its final reading on Tuesday, April 5.

In addition to a Monday Night Movies series, which ended this week, all programming is part of the playhouse’s initiative to increase off-season art and entertainment opportunities. “It has been great to have wonderful theater people take charge of specific programs,” playhouse director MJ Bruder Munafo said. “Arnie Reisman with the Poetry Café, Molly Conole with the Wicked Good Musical Revue, Nicki Galland and Chelsea McCarthy continuing with Shakespeare for the Masses, and Jamie Alley with the Monday Night Movies — it’s a winning formula all around.”

The Shakespeare for the Masses Triple Crown, which will hold performances on Saturday, April 2, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 3, at noon, is a reprise of a popular show from 2009. The lively staged reading is written, organized, and edited by Shakespeare for the Masses founders Nicole Galland and Chelsea McCarthy. Ms. Galland and Ms. McCarthy will narrate the story with help from a cast including Christopher Brophy as Richard II, Molly Purves as Henry IV, Chris Roberts as Prince Hal, Brian Ditchfield as Falstaff, and an ensemble consisting of Rob Myers, Jamie Alley, Jill Macy, Xavier Powers, Lagan Trieschmann, Alexandra London-Thompson, and Paul Munafo.

Ms. Galland said they selected these plays in particular because it is campaign season. “The uses, abuses, and reversals of political power have been on everyone’s minds a lot,” she said. “These particular plays have so much resonance with many elements of the 2016 election. We’re rewriting the narrator material to be topical. And we’ve talked about having voter registration forms in the lobby, and putting up signs outside the theater that look like Trump and Hillary’s campaign slogans, saying ‘Support Bolingbroke!’ and ‘Go Richard!’” Admission is free, thanks to the show’s sponsors, the Senchak family.

Laughs at the Playhouse won’t stop after the Triple Crown. On Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, at 7:30 pm, the playhouse will present the season’s final Wicked Good Musical Revue. Ms. Munafo says the theme is by request: “Audience members have been submitting requests for songs they want to hear again, or haven’t heard yet.” Those songs will be performed by a troupe consisting of Molly Conole, Shelagh Hackett, Paul Munafo, and Ken Romero, accompanied by Peter Boak, with special guest performers Brooke Hardman-Ditchfield and Brian Weiland. “The core troupe is very, very talented,” Ms. Munafo said. Tickets are $25.

Though not all poems are as humorous, funnyman Arnie Reisman always brings a comic touch to the Poetry Café events. The final café of the season on April 5 will feature guest poets Justen Ahren, Peter Ledermann, Fan Ogilvie, and Claudia Taylor. A $10 cash-only charge at the door includes a beverage and a slice of Pie Chicks pie.

All of these seasonal programs will return in November or December of 2016. However, the playhouse is already busy scheduling summer programming. In a preview of exciting events coming our way, the playhouse, in association with Roberta Kirn, is hosting “Blurring Borders,” a special concert of African music by the Berklee College of Music African Club on Wednesday, April 6, at 7:30 pm. Admission is $15 at the door or $10 for students.

For more information on Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse events, visit mvplayhouse.org.