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2 ACTORS’ SKILLS HAVE GROWN WITH SHAKESPEARE FEST

SHARE 2 ACTORS’ SKILLS HAVE GROWN WITH SHAKESPEARE FEST

Although both Marco Barricelli and Tobin Atkinson have performed in previous editions of the Utah Shakespearean Festival - Barricelli 16 years ago and Salt Lake native Atkinson six years ago - this season they are featured performers in four major roles, not just the "spear-carrying" assignments from past years.

And both actors have seen impressive growth in the Utah festival over the past several years.Barricelli has drawn considerable acclaim for his portrayals of brutish Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' earthy "A Streetcar Named Desire" and - at the completely opposite end of the scale - the idealistic Berowne in Shakespeare's light-hearted "Love's Labour's Lost."

He last worked at the Cedar City festival in the 1977 and 1978 seasons.

"I was just a child," he contends.

He was an apprentice during the 1987 season, when he was studying theater at California State University at Fullerton.

"I was looking for the best place to train and, at that point in my career, just wanted to work with some professional actors.

"I had done some Shakespeare in high school and some in college, but nothing on a professional level," said Barricelli.

"The changes at the festival since 1978 have been enormous. There's a brand new theater, for one thing (the Randall L. Jones Theatre, which opened in 1989) and the repertory company has grown. Although there were some terrific actors back then, the overall level has matured - just as you would hope it would in that time," Barricelli said, "Except Fred (Adams) is the same and that's comforting. They were great people to work for back then and they still are now.

"There's a caring humanness about the management and administration here that can be lost in other companies. You want to do your best work for them because they're the kind of people they are."

Barricelli noted that the real joy in performing in repertory theater is that "one night I can be the cynical scholar and brilliant mind of Berowne and the next night I can be Stanley, a lot more earthy and the unrefined type. When they made me the offer I had to do it - mostly because I have never done `Streetcar' before. It's my third time for `Labour's,' although not in this role.

"It's (`Labour's') not the easiest play for people to get into, but this is a very entertaining production and the audiences are loving it." Barricelli turned down a couple of other jobs to come to Cedar City. One was with the Missouri Rep and the other was with Milwaukee Rep, where he's headed later this year.

" `Streetcar' is such an extraordinary play. I can't wait to get to the theater to do it. It's a great feeling for me. Sometimes this stuff can just turn into another job, but with `Streetcar' I can't wait to see what happens every night. Tennessee Williams was an extraordinary playwright."

Barricelli, who was born in Boston and who attended junior high and high school and the first two years of college in Southern California, thoroughly enjoys working "in this gorgeous country with great people and enthusiastic audiences who are, for the most part, very educated and a joy to play to."

Barricelli didn't really get into theater until his junior year in high school. Both of his parents were Harvard graduates and very scholarly and literary. "I always went to the theater when I was growing up. I got a lot of exposure to theater. Dad did some directing and acting in college and was a fight director."

He was lured back to Cedar City after working several seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

"(Casting director) Kathleen Conlin had been coming up to Ashland for several seasons. We had chatted and I had expressed an interest in returning to Cedar. I did receive some offers before in previous seasons, but I felt these roles weren't right. Then, when they offered me Stanley and Berowne, I had to say yes."

"I feel so blessed. Becca (Rauscher) is extraordinary! It couldn't have worked out better. She's such a talent and she really helps balance out `Streetcar' because she's such a strong Stella. Too often, in that quartet of Stella, Blanche, Mitch and Stan, Stella ends up being a wimp - but not with Becca."

(Rauscher and Barricelli also play opposite each other in "Love's Labour's Lost" in the roles of Berowne and Rosaline.)

Following the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Barricelli is going to spend some time with his family and then head for the Milwaukee Rep, where he'll be playing Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol."

"This is the the first time in my career!" he said of his role as Scrooge. "I can't put it off any longer."

He'll also have roles in "A Moon for the Misbegotten" and the American premiere of a new French play, "Don Juan on Trial."

- TOBIN ATKINSON, who'll be directing Bertolt Brecht's "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" in February in the University of Utah's Babcock Theatre, did his undergraduate work at Southern Utah State College (now Southern Utah University).

Like Barricelli's, his first assignments at the Utah Shakespearean Festival were in the "spear carrier" mode.

He was an apprentice actor with the festival in both 1986 and '88, appearing in the Greenshows, the Royal Feaste and some of the Adams Memorial Theatre productions.

"They have since changed that system," said Atkinson. Now the apprentices are only in the plays and both the Greenshows/Feastes are part of a separate company.

Atkinson feels quite fortunate. He's performing this season in plays in all three of the festival's theaters - as butler Etienne Plucheux in the hilarious comedy, "A Flea in Her Ear," in the Randall Jones Theatre, and as Orlando, the love-smitten youth in Shakespeare's delightful romp, "As You Like It," in the outdoor Adams theater (which also has matinee performances in the SUU Auditorium Theatre).

"It's a wonderful experience, working in all three spaces," he said.

"I was actually quite amazed that I did as well as i did with the casting. In Salt Lake City, I've performed in student productions at the Babcock and in the off-campus Plan B Company shows, but I hadn't really worked with another director for three or four years and the two directors here (Mark Rucker for `Flea' and Eberle Thomas for `Like It') really put a lot of trust in me for the two shows I got. They're two completely different roles."

Like roughly 2,000 other prospective USF actors, Atkinson submitted his written application along with a resume and photograph.

"Then, if you look good on paper, they want to see you `live,' " said Atkinson, who was called to attend auditions on the SUU campus in March.

Even getting that far was very flattering "then - about 10 hours later - I got a telephone call from Kathleen Conlin."

Atkinson, who graduated from Brighton High School in 1984 and who attended Southern Utah State College before transferring to the theater department at the University of Utah, said his parents first took him to the Utah Shakespearean Festival in 1981.

"I saw `Henry IV, Part One' . . . sort of testing the waters . . . and I demanded that we come back the next season," said Atkinson. "Our family was young and we would camp at Navajo Lake, about 20 miles up Cedar Canyon, instead of staying in hotels. We'd cook out and take camp-style showers. Then (after the performances), we'd drive back at night and crawl into our sleeping bags."

Another family outing Atkinson fondly remembers is driving across the country to Boston in an old Pontiac.

"My mother was telling me this great story about a Scottish king and witches and it wasn't until I started coming to the festival that I learned it was `Macbeth.' She was telling it like it was a great fairytale.

"The idea of communicating with other people on a much grander scale than just one on one" is what turned Atkinson on to theater.

"I'm really fairly anti-social. I don't get along well in big groups of people, but the idea of turning to 600 or so people in the Adams Theatre and telling them how I feel as Orlando . . . there's a safety factor. You know they're not going to talk back!

" Also, seeing Orlando's journey and identifying with his experience affects people in a much more exciting way than just talking to them."

As a Brighton High School student, Atkinson was involved with the Shakespeare competitions on the SUSC campus. It was here that he was noticed by both Fred C. Adams, the festival's founder and executive producer, and R. Scott Phillips (now the festival's managing director), who offered Atkinson a scholarship.

Atkinson graduated from the Cedar City school in 1988 with dual degrees in theater and hstory.

He then worked for a couple of years and attended some other graduate schools - the OSLO Conservatory in Florida and the California Institute of the Arts. He also worked as a puppeteer in Las Vegas but wasn't satisfied with this, so he returned to Salt Lake City and started his own Plan B Productions with Cheryl Ann Cluff.

Atkinson has one more year at the U. of U.

He feels the 1994 Utah Shakespearean Festival company "is amazing! They come in from all over and they want to work so badly and to create the best things possible. Some of the other actors have played Orlando before and I was able to talk to them throughout the whole rehearsal process."

Atkinson said the continuous feedback with other actors really surprised him.

"But that's how my Plan B company works. I thought I would have to change my work habits, but I didn't have to at all and I'm very happy."

Atkinson was also pleased to find himself working with a former SUSC colleague, Brian Vaughn, who portrays Herr Schwarz in "A Flea in Her Ear" and Costard in "Love's Labour's Lost."

Atkinson and Vaughn worked together in a one-night "evening of Chekhov" last Sunday in SUU's Thorley Recital Hall, which Atkinson directed using a cast of both major actors and interns from the festival ensembles.

"We never had a chance to work together before. I had seen him in a couple of SUSC productions and we struck a bargain - that it would be fun to see what kind of theater the two of us and some other actors could come up with."

These voluntary, one-night stands are held several times during the festival's run.

Atkinson noted that the pressure of being seen by your peers, rather than the paying public, is "500 times worse. They're watching and judging in a completely different way."

Atkinson added that most of the actors reside in a community complex, usually three to an apartment.

"There's a lot of camaraderie and `networking' going on. We're up all night `talking theater.' I might be over at one apartment visiting with someone from New York about how to get work there, or someone else could be asking me about auditioning for roles at Pioneer Theatre Company. You can see how small the theater community really is and you know you're going to run into these people again sometime."

Both of Atkinson's parents teach school. His father is a second-grade instructor at Lincoln Elementary and his mother teaches fourth-graders at East Midvale.

"I moved back home because I just couldn't afford to go to the U. and live in an apartment," said Atkinson, who noted some of the best times with his family are those meetings over the dinner table at night.

"I learned one night that my dad is adapting `Where the Wild Things Are' as a bilingual play and mother is doing a script called `Small Crimson Parasol,' a Japanese adaptation of `Little Red Riding Hood' which has a tiger as the villain instead of a wolf."

The whole Atkinson family also helps out with Tobin's Plan B productions. His father assists with set construction and both his mother and grandmother work on costumes.

Tobin's younger sister, Enid, was just accepted into the U. of U.'s actor training program, so she could end up being one of her brother's actors.