First Look: André De Shields, Brian Anthony Wilson, Allen Gilmore, J. Samuel Davis, Nicole King, Rayme Cornell, Jacqueline Thompson, Daniel José Molina, Leland Fowler and More in St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR

All production photos by Phillip Hamer Photography

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, directed by Carl Cofield, opened in Forest Park on June 4 in St. Louis, MO. In the title role is Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Play On!, The Full Monty). 

André De Shields and the company of 2021 production of KING LEAR. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

King Lear is the first major live theatrical event in the country since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

André De Shields* (Lear), Nicole King* (Cordelia), J. Samuel Davis* (Kent) and the company of 2021 production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

Performances of King Lear, part of The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s 21st summer of free Shakespeare in Forest Park, began June 2 and will continue through June 27, Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. to strictly limited capacity crowds. 

Rayme Cornell* (Goneril) and Jacqueline Thompson* (Regan) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

André De Shields heads an all-BIPOC company featuring some of the finest actors out of New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He is joined by Brian Anthony Wilson (“The Wire,” “The Sopranos”) as Gloucester, acclaimed Chicago and Shakespearean actor Allen Gilmore as the Fool and St. Louis legend J. Samuel Davis as Kent. The three daughters are played by Nicole King (Cordelia) and Festival favorites Rayme Cornell (Goneril) and Jacqueline Thompson (Regan). Daniel José Molina (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and Leland Fowler (TFANA) play Gloucester’s sons Edgar and Edmund, respectively. The company also includes Jason J. Little (Albany), Carl Overly, Jr. (Cornwall) and Michael Tran (Oswald), as well as an ensemble of actors from The Black Rep’s Professional Internship Program: Kentrell Jamison, Theorri London, Brian McKinley, Tyler White and Christina Yancy.

J. Samuel Davis (Kent) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

King Lear is considered by many to be Shakespeare’s greatest – and most modern – masterpiece. A richly imaginative story of love, loyalty and unfathomable loss, it depicts a family and a nation torn apart and turned against itself by disastrous leadership. After the aging king’s plan to divide his kingdom equally among his daughters goes horribly awry, he’s cast out into the most famous storm in all of drama. By turns shocking and profound, Lear paints an unforgettable picture of human endurance pushed to the absolute limit by nature, violence and its own vanity.

André De Shields* (Lear), J. Samuel Davis* (Kent), and the company of the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

The creative team for King Lear includes first-time Festival designers Wilson Chin (Scenic Design), Mika Eubanks (Costume Design) and David R. Molina (Music and Sound Design). John Wylie (Lighting Design) returns for his fourteenth season.

André De Shields (Lear), J. Samuel Davis (Kent), Allen Gilmore (Fool), and the company of the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

Performances in Shakespeare Glen are free and open to the public but for the first time will be limited in size to ensure the safety of staff, artists and audience. Shakespeare Glen and Box Office open at 6:30 p.m. Click here to plan your visit and reserve a pod. Visit www.stlshakes.org for up-to-date information on reserving pods and more.

André De Shields (Lear), J. Samuel Davis (Kent), Allen Gilmore (Fool), and the company of the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
André De Shields (Lear) and Allen Gilmore (Fool) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
André De Shields (Lear) and Allen Gilmore (Fool) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
Allen Gilmore (Fool) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear.
Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
Daniel José Molina* (Edgar) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
Brian Anthony Wilson (Gloucester) and Brian McKinley (Supporting) in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
Leland Folwer (Edmund) and Company in the 2021 St. Louis Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear. Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
André De Shields (Lear) and the company of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 production of “King Lear.” Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography

The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 season is funded in part by the Missouri Foundation for Health, Bayer Fund, Regional Arts Commission, Arts Midwest, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council and The Gertrude and William A. Bernoudy Foundation.

Jun. 17: St. Louis Shakespeare Festival 21st Season Picnic Gala to Feature A Conversation with KING LEAR Star André De Shields Prior to Performance

Photos: Opening Night with St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR Star André De Shields; St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones Presents Proclamation Naming June 4, 2021 – KING LEAR/ André De Shields Day 

Broadwayworld: Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR With André De Shields & More

Jun. 17: St. Louis Shakespeare Festival 21st Season Picnic Gala to Feature A Conversation with KING LEAR Star André De Shields Prior to Performance 

St. Louis Magazine: André De Shields on playing King Lear in Shakespeare in the Park and why the tragedy is the best play for this time St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Tony winner André De Shields stars in ‘King Lear’ that engages with the times at Shakespeare Festival

American Theatre magazine: You Could Be King André De Shields to Star in The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR, Jun. 2- Jun. 27 

American Theatre: St. Louis Shakespeare Festival Announces Summer Season Playbill: Hadestown Tony Winner André De Shields to Play King Lear for St. Louis Shakespeare Festival 

TheaterMania: André Robin De Shields to Play King Lear for St. Louis Shakespeare Festival This Summer 

Broadwayworld: André De Shields to Star in The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR as Part of its 2021 Summer Season

stltoday.com: Tony winner André De Shields will lead Shakespeare Festival’s ‘King Lear’ in Forest Park

St. Louis Business Journal: St. Louis Shakespeare Festival returns with new production in Forest Park

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

All text, graphics, & articles: © 2000-2021 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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