The cast of Antony and Cleopatra comes together in September, but before they do, let’s meet the talented actors who will be bringing this complex, political romance to the Folger stage in October.
The eponymous couple
We begin with the infamous lovers themselves, the quixotic Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, and the noble Roman, Mark Antony. This is not the first time Shirine Babb has helped bring one of Shakespeare’s Roman plays to life at the Folger, having previously played the stalwart and stoic Portia in Julius Caesar (2014). She’s also performed with Folger Consort, appearing in last year’s Measure+Dido alongside Derek Jacobi.
Cody Nickell was last seen at Folger Theatre as the Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart, but he has appeared in a number of other productions here throughout the years, including Arcadia and The Taming of the Shrew, for which he received Helen Hayes Award nominations.
As befits leaders of their stature, Antony and Cleopatra are both surrounded by an entourage. We begin with Antony’s company of soldiers, who wrestle with their captain’s “dotage” at the same time that they represent the pressing concerns of Rome in Egypt. Enobarbus is Antony’s closest friend and adviser, and is played by Nigel Gore, making his Folger debut after dazzling audiences in Boston this summer as Prospero in Shakespeare & Company’s The Tempest. Gore has previously played stages from Prague to Colorado, and appeared in Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility in New York. Chris Genebach‘s career has often kept him a bit closer to the DC area. He has worked with Olney, Studio, and Woolly Mammoth Theatres as well as Folger Theatre in Twelfth Night, Henry V, Othello, Cyrano, and Orestes: A Tragic Romp. He joins the cast as Agrippa, another Antony-adviser, who offers one particular suggestion that had disastrous consequences…
Antony’s companions are concerned with trying to keep their general on task, but Cleopatra’s servants have a different job: responding to and indulging their queen’s need for diversion and flattery. No stranger to providing entertainment, John Floyd was recently seen as cabaret dancer Cupid in last season’s Timon of Athens. He brings that crowd-pleasing persona to the role of Mardian, Cleopatra’s eunach and, eventually, her fateful messenger.
Another way to pass the time in Egypt is to tell fortunes—something audiences can experience at Antony and Cleopatra‘s special Ladies Night event—and so Cleopatra keeps a Soothsayer on hand, played by Anthony Michael Martinez (doubling as Eros). While new to the Folger, Martinez has a long history performing Shakespeare at theaters including Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Triad Stage, and New York’s Classic Stage Company. Like Martinez, Nicole King makes her Folger debut after a number of Shakespearean appearances elsewhere, including Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in London. King bridges the worlds of Egypt and Rome, appearing as both Cleopatra’s waiting-woman, Iras, and as the Roman Octavia, Octavius Caesar’s sister. Finally, Cleopatra’s court is rounded out by Charmian, another waiting-woman played by Simoné Elizabeth Bart, who comes to the Folger after appearances at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and the Waterfront Playhouse.
Meanwhile, in Rome…
Cleopatra may be the sole queen of Egypt, but in Rome, Antony precariously shares his power with two others: Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. Octavius Caesar is a calculating young man, played by Dylan Paul. We welcome Paul to the Folger for the first time, and he arrives here after appearances at a number of prestigious theaters from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Great Expectations, Hamlet, Head Over Heels, The Count of Monte Cristo) to Broadway’s Roundhouse Theatre (Cabaret). Caught between Caesar and Antony is Lepidus, played by Robbie Gay in this production of Antony and Cleopatra, having also performed the character in Folger Theatre’s 2014 Julius Caesar. He was previously seen at the Folger in 2012’s The Gaming Table.
With a brilliant cast coming to together to tell one of Shakespeare’s most passionate plays, we can expect sparks will fly when performances begin October 10. We hope to see you then!
Come see Folger Theatre’s Antony and Cleopatra, on stage October 10 – November 19. For tickets and more information, visit us online or call the Folger Box Office at 202.544.7077.
Folger Theatre Production Credits:
Arcadia. 2009. Directed by Aaron Posner, scenic design by Daniel Conway, costume design by Kate Turner-Walker, lighting design by Thom Weaver.
Mary Stuart. 2015. Directed by Richard Clifford, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by Mariah Hale, lighting design by Rob Denton.
The Taming of the Shrew. 2012. Directed by Aaron Posner, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by Helen Q. Huang, lighting design by Jennifer Schriever.
Julius Caesar. 2014. Directed by Robert Richmond, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by Mariah Hale, lighting design by Jim Hunter.
Orestes: A Tragic Romp. 2010. Directed by Aaron Posner, scenic design by Daniel Conway, costume design by Jessica Ford, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau.
Othello. 2011. Directed by Robert Richmond, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design by Andrew F. Griffin.
Timon of Athens. 2017. Directed by Robert Richmond, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by Mariah Hale, lighting design by Andrew F. Griffin.