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The Merchant of Venice 

For its 12th season, The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane (SFT) takes Bard lovers on a journey through Italy, staging three of the playwright's works set in the boot-shaped country. The season opens this week with The Merchant of Venice, a comedy mixing themes of good vs. evil with the pursuit of a pound of flesh. Aimee K. Michel directs with Gavin Mahlie playing Shylock and Lara Grice as Portia. Othello opens July 14, with Mahlie returning to portray the ultimate Shakespearean villain, Iago. Michel again directs, with the cast also featuring Tony Molina and Andrea Frankle as Othello and Desdemona. Two Gentlemen of Verona, filled with ruminations on love and romance, concludes the season, with Gary Rucker directing a cast from SFT's Intern Training Program. Thursday-Friday 'half-price preview' tickets $12.50; Saturday's opening-night tickets $35 and include admission to gala reception. Regular tickets are $25 adults, $22 students, teachers and seniors, $12 children, ages 12-under. The first Sunday matinee, June 12, offers a 'pay what you can' discount, with a $2 minimum.

7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, June 9-11; 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12; through July 2
Tulane University, Lupin Theatre, 865-5105, ext. 2;

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