American Players Theatre Presents THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Review —Falstaff Is At It Again!

Click here to read more Picture This Post American Players Theatre stories.

A woman with bright yellow headphones steps up to the giant, bright pink boombox sitting center stage. She slaps the play button and a hip hop beat comes out of the speakers. The cast joins this DJ out on stage in a flurry of colors and costumes. A woman in a large hoop skirt and bonnet steps out onto one of the platforms and declares that it’s time for a dance lesson! They begin a short but lively dance number starting The Merry Wives of Windsor with a bang.

American Players Theatre Mashes Time Periods

Everything from the set to the costumes feels whimsical and eccentric, a little Alice in Wonderland meets Dr. Suess meets a variety of time periods. The set with the aforementioned boombox brings us into a modern era, however the cast does a Charleston dance step. The costumes are also just as eclectic ranging from a bright pink romper with bright blue polka dots to wide legged floral pants to an asymmetrical brocade suit.

As Mrs. Page (Kelsey Brennan) and Mrs. Ford (Dee Dee Batteast) set the scene in the Ford’s household for Falstaff’s arrival,it feels like we’re on the set of a TV sitcom. Each of their dresses has a 50s housewife silhouette with big poofy skirts, but with a pop-art print twist. As they enact their little joke on Falstaff (David Daniel), the only thing missing is the typical sitcom laugh track as he tries to seduce Mrs. Ford and subsequently jumps behind the blinds as her husband approaches.

Widow Quickly (Tracy Michelle Arnold) rolls a traveling apothecary cart onto the stage with vials, bottles, and a skeleton attached to the side. It feels almost mad scientist-like as she works with every suitable bachelor in town, promising to put in a good word with the much desired Anne Page. 

When the ensemble steps out into the woods for the final scene, it almost feels like A Midsummer Night’s Dream as they dress like ghosts and fairies holding hanging lanterns above their heads. You too might feel, like this writer, that the production incorporates so many different style aspects it can be a bit confusing and sometimes our eyes don’t know where to turn next!


Making Falstaff the Butt of Every Joke

After our opening dance number, the man of the hour arrives with his crew in tow. David Daniel as Falstaff steps through the audience dressed in a worn, deep green coat and a tall straw top hat. His voice booms over us welcoming us with the usual pre-show announcements with a few preliminary jokes and nods to his full figure. From then on, Daniel does not let the energy drop. 

He throws himself into the role, sometimes literally.  He tosses himself into the laundry bushel, legs high and askew and the audience roars with laughter. He runs throughout the audience dressed as the women’s dance teacher, huge hoop skirt billowing and hand fan fluttering. 

He leans into his Falstaff character as one who knows he may be past his prime, but that doesn’t shake his confidence as he is tricked not once, not twice, but three times over. 

As he finds Mrs. Ford has asked to meet him once again, he rubs his large belly and thanks it for its supposed seduction work. Again and again he brings out our laughs.

For those die-hard fans looking for a traditional version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, you may be disappointed as this adaptation uses an updated script and an ambiguous time period. However, for those who are fans of Shakespearean comedies and looking for one that embraces all the laughs, this would be a good fit for you. 


Nominate this for The Picture This Post BEST OF 2023???
Click Readers' Choice!

Check out the 2022 Winners!
Readers' Choice 2022

Yes!! Please note my vote to add this to the
Picture This Post BEST OF 2023


Mr. Frank Ford Nate Burger
Mrs. Alice Ford Dee Dee Batteast
John, of the Ford Household Joseph Green
Robert, of the Ford Household David Van Hallgren
Mr. Page Reginald André Jackson
Mrs. Page Kelsey Brennan
Anne Page, their daughter Naomi Zhanel Kalter
Sir Hugh Evans, a Welsh parson Josh Krause
Dr. Caius, a French physician Jim DeVita
Widow Quickly Tracy Michelle Arnold
John Rugby Trevyn Wong
Host of the Garter Teri Brown
Sir John Falstaff, a knight David Daniel
Pistol, a follower of Falstaff Phoebe González
Corporal Nym, a follower of Falstaff Jamaque Newberry
Bardolph, a follower of Falstaff Marcus Truschinski
Robin, Falstaff’s page Isaac Daniel
Robert Shallow, a country justice of the peace James Ridge
Abraham Slender, Shallow’s cousin Ronald Román-Meléndez
Peter Simple Kailey Azure Green
Fenton, a young gentleman Rasell Holt
Mowbray Erin Mendez Stapleton
Artura Murray Nora Murphy, Dhyana Rabe


Director Terri McMahon
Voice & Text Coach Sara Becker
Assistant Director Brandon Zang
Costume Design Susan Tsu
Associate Costume Design Daniele Tyler Mathews
Scenic Design Scott Penner
Lighting Design Michael A. Peterson
Sound Design & Original Music Sartje Pickett
Choreographer Brian Cowing
Director of Movement Jeb Burris
Assistant Costume Design Kelly Myers
Stage Management Assistants Star Howard, Alexandra Baus Pozniak
Stage Manager Domingo Mancuello


Now through October 8, 2023
Performance schedule varies; please see website for details.


The Hill Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
Spring Green, WI 53588



Tickets can be purchased through the American Players Theatre website

Photos by Liz Lauren


Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

Read about more Chicago plays on stages now or coming soon.

Check for Half-Price Deals from Hot Tix:

Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

Share this:

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *