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 Shakespeare Orange County ends its season with one of William Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tales, The Tragedie of Macbeth, and from the moment the overwhelmingly frightening trio of witches (Cindy Nguyen, Alyssa Bradac, Harrison Givens) emerges in the night, the audience is undividedly under its spell.

 Shakespeare Orange County ends its season with one of William Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful tales, The Tragedie of Macbeth, and from the moment the overwhelmingly frightening trio of witches (Cindy Nguyen, Alyssa Bradac, Harrison Givens) emerges in the night, the audience is undividedly under its spell.

The mastermind of the bard’s storytelling is that his play transcends time. Take, for example, ambition and the pursuit of power, blood and gore, pure unadulterated evil, (and, perhaps a curious parallel to TV’s contemporary cult favorite, “Breaking Bad”).

It proves that man’s pursuit of power, passion and desire is no stranger to mankind – from medieval throughout modern times.

Upon returning home from a victorious battle, Scottish officer Macbeth (John Walcutt), and fellow soldier Lord Banquo (Carl Reggiardo) are met by the three witches who proclaim several prophesies, and when Macbeth hears that he is destined to become king of Scotland,  he becomes consumed with the witches’ prediction and intoxicated with the idea of power.

With his distorted sense of reality, and the never-ending nagging of his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth (Evelyn Carol Case), he unmercifully kills  the existing king of Scotland, Duncan (Nicholas Thurkettle).

As predicted, Macbeth becomes king, however, a second part of the prophesy proclaims that it is not Macbeth’s son who will descend the throne, but it will be Banquo’s son instead.

Macbeth believes that he must have Banquo and his son, Fleance (Morgan Lauff) killed as well. Macbeth’s assassins murder Banquo, but Fleance luckily manages to escape.

During a stately dinner affair, Macbeth sees the ghost of his old friend, Banquo, and he is frightened to the point of returning to the witches for more answers. There he learns that he is to beware of MacDuff, Thane of Fife (Mike Peebler).

Although he hears that MacDuff has left the country, he gives orders to have MacDuff’s family killed.

In all its blood-spattered glory, Macbeth’s triumph and victory leads to nothing more than sheer madness and eventually, his demise.

Shakespeare Orange County veteran Walcutt is the epitome of who Shakespeare must have had in mind to portray this complicated, multifaceted character – from a charismatic man, to army hero, to devoted husband, to consummate ruler to ruthless and cold-blooded killer, and his performance is flawless.

Case’s wonderful portrayal of Lady Macbeth is that of a woman who is driven, knows what she wants, and knows how to get it. Case is the perfect complement to Walcutt’s Macbeth.

Other great performances are Reggiardo’s Banquo, Thurkettle as Duncan, Peebler as MacDuff, Craig Brown as The Porter/Angus, Nick Reinhardt as Malcolm, Amanda Arbues as Lady MacDuff, and alas, the Weird Sisters, Alyssa Bradac, Harrison Givens, and Cindy Nguyen.

Katie Wilson’s costume design hits the mark with her Medieval times meets modern flair creations. Eric Butler’s scenic design, combined with William & Jennifer Georges lighting design and original music gives the impact and punch that The Tragedie of Macbeth deserves. 

Director Thomas F. Bradac’s stunning production of Macbeth is a fitting way to close Shakespeare Orange County’s 2013 season and a perfect way for Bradac to pass the torch to his successor, John Walcutt.

As founding Artistic Director Bradac said, “After 34 years of producing mostly Shakespeare, it is time for me to transition back to acting, directing, and teaching. I am thankful to the community for the support and encouragement and look forward to the next chapter in my journey.”

As the community thanks Mr. Bradac for his many years of commitment and wonderful plays he has produced and directed, we look forward to Mr. Walcutt’s fresh ideas and the evolution of Shakespeare Orange County, and its 2014 season.

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