Casting Pearls:Al Pacino's Shylock moves 'The Merchant of Venice' from the Delacorte to Broadway
Misani | 4/12/2011, 5:25 p.m.
The other characters in this carefully plotted Shakespeare classic driven by greed and chaos include Salerino (Francois Battiste), a gentleman friend of Antonio and Bassanio, as well as his friend Solanio (Mathew Rauch); Lorenzo (Bill Heck), a Christian who's in love with Shylock's daughter, Jessica (Heather Lind); and Gratiano (Jesse L. Martin), Bassanio's brash friend who slows his roll when he falls for Nerissa (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Portia's lady-in-waiting.
And talk about suitors. With the "woman smarter than man thinking" Portia, there's no man shortage in Belmont for this no-nonsense, cross-dressing heiress. What? Snap!
The soon-to-be Madame Bassanio has three men chasing after her. One, the prince of Morocco (Nyambi Nyambi), traveled all the way from Africa, and another, the prince of Arragon (Max Wright), came from Spain. Both of these suitors had to journey back home empty-handed.
Rounding out the characters are Launcelot Gobbo (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), who provides smart comic relief as Bassanio's servant who leaves Shylock for employment with Antonio, and Tubal (Richard Topol), Shylock's friend. In addition to the principal characters, there's also a 13-member ensemble.
The world of prejudice in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" was a judgmental place where Christians and Jews were at odds because of learned religious and philosophical differences; where sexism and lifestyles were guided by age-old prejudices; and where love, in several cases, like money was measured pound for pound like flesh and not like the unconditional love of a merciful God, inspiring Shakespeare to write the cherished words, "The quality of mercy is not strained.
And with the close of the curtains, Casting Pearls Awards for Theatrical Excellence are presented to Al Pacino, Jesse L. Martin, Hamish Linklater, Byron Jennings, Lily Rabe, Bill Heck, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Max Wright, Nyambi Nyambi Nyambi and Francoise Battiste, as well as Mathew Rauch, Heather Lind, Richard Topol and Gerry Bamman for making The Public Theater's "The Merchant of Venice" one of the great stage productions of 2010.
For further information, visit www.publictheater.org.
To contact the "Casting Pearls" series team, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.