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Cultured and crazy variety show.

Byline: FRED CRAFTS The Register-Guard

ONLY AN ACTRESS as good as Robin Goodrin Nordli could get away with titling a revue of female roles from William Shakespeare's plays "Bard Babes I Have known."

A leading lady in many of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's productions over the past nine seasons, Nordli brings to her roles both a physical and an intellectual vivacity that usually draws warm applause from the audience and unfettered praise from the critics.

After performing in 39 productions of 24 different Shakespeare plays, Nordli wanted to have a little fun with her roles, so she created a 50-minute, one-woman revue that not only pokes good-natured fun at the Bard but also reveals how she makes each woman different.

Hence the show's subtitle, "How to Play a Female Shakespearean Character."

In "Bard Babes I Have Known," Nordli will portray women from "Henry V," "As You Like It," "Twelfth Night," "Cymbeline," "King John," "Macbeth," "Henry IV Part One," "Othello," "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and others as the headliner of the second annual "Ashland Salutes Willamette Rep" fund-raiser at the Hult Center.

Because the show is a benefit, tickets are $100 each ($80 of which is tax deductible), which includes a post- performance reception at the Oregon Electric Station.

"Bard Babes," which Nordli has only done a half-dozen times at benefits for the Shakespeare festival and other theaters, will be the first half of the show.

After intermission, the program will include humorous sketches by Ray Porter (a reprise of last year's hit "Scrambled Feet" and some songs), Barry Kraft (readings from Shakespeare) and Alicia Mandelkow and Tyrone Wilson (scenes from Shakespeare, including the Mercutio-Tybalt sword fight from "Romeo and Juliet").

On the musical side, Christine Williams will do a "Karaoke Opera" and Todd Barton, the festival's resident composer, will play his "Dracula Suite" on a unique electronic instrument. The mistress of ceremonies will be Maya Thomas, who will also sing.

The show is a homecoming of sorts for Willamette Repertory Theatre founder Kirk Boyd and the actors with whom he worked in Ashland.

Boyd looks at the event as "a variety show with top actors coming to get crazy on us. They so made everybody fall onto the floor with laughter last year that we wanted to do it again." Only this year's informal show will be quite a bit different, with, he says, "lots of gooney stuff and a few surprises."

Nordli, for example, didn't perform here last year. Boyd says her collection of Shakespeare's characters is a show-stopper. "Everybody who's seen it says it's not only smart, it's just really funny," he says.

Nordli wrote the show several years ago when she realized that missed being able to do many of the Shakespeare roles she had created over the years.

"You play a role, and they become like your friend, but you don't get to revisit them. This was an opportunity to do that, and hopefully to give some insight to how one approaches those roles," she said by phone from her home in Ashland.

While cagily dodging questions about specific aspects of the presentation (``I don't want to give too much away''), Nordli has "structured it in such a way that I explain a little bit of insight on the roles from an actor's point of view, but it's put together in an `interesting' format."

Noting that in Shakespeare's time young men played the female roles, Nordli does a bit on cross-dressing.

"Shakespeare wrote five roles like that. I've played four of them. So I can do their universal progression using their speeches," she says.

Although the show is done primarily in modern dress, actor Christopher Duval will assist her with character and costume changes.

"I tried to make something that can be very solemn into something humorous," Nordli teases. "Once you see it, it will all make sense."

Arts reporter Fred Crafts can be reached by phone at 338-2575 and by e-mail at


WHAT: Leading actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in a benefit for Willamette Repertory Theatre

WHEN: 8 p.m. Oct. 28

WHERE: Soreng Theatre, Hult Center, Seventh and Willamette streets

HOW MUCH: $100, through the Hult Center box office (682-5000)


Robin Goodrin Nordli was chorus in `Henry V,' part of her preparation for the one-woman revue, "Bard Babes I Have Known."
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Title Annotation:Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors come to Eugene to let their hair down - and raise money for Willamette Rep; Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 20, 2002
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