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Classic Shakespearean Comedy Rounds out SUNY New Paltz Summer Theatre

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NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- New Paltz Grads highlight Cast and Production

Stars and artists from major film and theatre productions will combine talents to bring a classic comedy to life. Michael C. Williams of "The Blair Witch Project"; Padraic Lillis, Assistant Director of the Broadway production and Director of the national tour of "She Love's Me"; and J.B. Wing, star of the new musical "Everything's Ducky," will apply their considerable talents to Shakespeare's classic battle of the sexes, "The Taming of the Shrew" - the third and final production of this year's New Paltz Summer Repertory Theatre, opening Thursday, July 20 at SUNY New Paltz.

Yet these three artists all have a common bond beyond their growing professional successes - they are all graduates of SUNY New Paltz Department of Theatre Arts.

"We're so proud of each of them," says Joseph Paparone, Producer of New Paltz Summer Rep. "The participation of these alumni provides a fantastic opportunity for our current students to interact with successful theatre artists,develop professional work habits, and build a network of professional relationships that will be crucial after they graduate."

"The Taming of the Shrew" contrasts the swashbuckling Petruchio and the beautiful, but shrewish Kate. The central plot involves Petruchio's desire to find a wife. In Kate, Petruchio finds his perfect match in charm and wit, and from the moment they first meet, Petruchio is determined to marry her. Unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual. Kate wants nothing to do with marriage-particularly to Petruchio. The madcap adventures that lead to Kate's change of heart are nothing short of hilarious.

J.B. Wing will play the shrewish Katherine; Michael C. Williams plays Hortensio, an ill-fated suitor; and Padraic Lillis will direct the production. The role of Petruchio will be performed by James Karcher, another professional actor who recently relocated to the Hudson Valley.

Williams, who gained fame in the hit "mockumentary" "The Blair Witch Project," graduated from New Paltz in 1997. Along with Blair Witch, he has appeared in "Law & Order," starred in several regional theatre productions, and was the founding member of Off the Cuff improvisation.

Wing is a 1995 graduate of SUNY New Paltz and most recently appeared in "Everything's Ducky." This new musical comedy composed by Henry Krieger ("Dreamgirls," "Side Show") and produced by Richard Frankel will open in Los Angeles in the fall with plans to open on Broadway next spring. Wing's other credits include "Candide," "Guys & Dolls" and "The Christmas Schooner."

Lillis is a 1990 graduate of SUNY New Paltz. In addition to his "She Loves Me" credits, this sought-after theatre professional has directed the premiere of "A Perfect Ganesh," the newest play by Terence McNally's ("Masterclass," "Love! Valor! Compassion!"), "A Joyous Christmas Concert" (on Broadway with Julie Harris, Cherry Jones, and Victor Garber), and at three Tony Award-winning Regional theatres: McCarter, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Hartford Stage Company.

James Karcher was introduced to New Paltz Summer Repertory Theatre through Padraic Lillis with whom he worked on productions of "Macbeth" and "Romeo and Juliet." Karcher's credits include the recurring character, Officer Jimmy Hanley, on the soap opera "As The World Turns." He also plays recurring roles on "Law and Order," "Third Watch," "Spin City," and "Sex and the City." His feature film credits include "Mickey Blue Eyes," "Frequency," and the upcoming "Autumn in New York" with Richard Gere. Karcher recently relocated his family to Newburgh, New York.

"The Taming of the Shrew" opens July 20 and runs through July 29. It is performed "under the Stars" on the banks of the campus pond. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission / $8 seniors and children, and are available at the Summer box office located in Parker Theatre, 257-3880.