Shakespeare In The Park Performs In Wolf Point As Part Of 50th Anniversary
By Bill Vander Weele
Montana Shakespeare in the Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer, and the tour provided a delightful performance of “Twelfth Night” in Wolf Point on Thursday, June 30.
John Hosking, who portrayed the Captain on Thursday, is very familiar with the importance of the program. After all, he served as an actor during Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ second tour ever in 1974.
“We tour a lot more places and the stage is a lot bigger now,” Hosking said of the program’s changes.
He noted that back in 1974, the acting crew consisted of mainly recent graduates like himself of Montana State University. Now the actors come from across the nation as auditions are held in Chicago, Houston and Minneapolis.
Hosking, 69, is mainly on the tour because he plays the title character in “King Lear.” Shakespeare in the Park rotates each night between the two plays.
“They needed someone to play King Lear and I took a while to think about it,” Hosking said of the demanding role.
He says he still has a lot of energy, “but not as much as these kids,” Hosking said of his fellow actors.
The younger actors are the ones who help put up the stage prior to each performance. “They give compliments. They are a good crew,” Hosking said.
Riley O’Toole, tour manager, noted that Wolf Point was the group’s fourth stop on its 61 community journey that includes performances in North Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho. The show in Wolf Point was between performances of “King Lear” in Malta and Sidney.
“They are very different,” O’Toole said of the two plays. “King Lear is the great tragedy and Twelfth Night is one of the great comedies.”
Three of the 11 actors were returners from last year’s tour including O’Toole, Mikey Gray and Erik Pearson.
O’Toole, a native of Sacramento, Calif., explains the tour manager’s responsibilities include organizing events for each day, interacting with tour coordinators, set preparation and planning for meals.
“The most special thing is that it’s such an awesome experience to be part of community’s connections,” O’Toole said. “The 61 communities we get to go to are great.”
He noted that people who began attending in the 1970s are now bringing their grandchildren to the performances.
“There is something for everyone in these plays,” O’Toole said. “It’s a great history.”