The title role in King Lear is one of the great acting challenges. It's local favorite Raye Birk's turn to step into the mad king's shoes in Park Square Theatre's new production. Birk, a veteran actor with a long list of stage, film, and television credits (including a turn as a mad scientist on The X-Files, which could be of help here), takes the character into the 20th century. Specifically, director Peter Moore has designed a production that sets the action of Lear — where a king's poor choice of an heir drives his land to destruction — in an organized crime family. Of course, stories like The Godfather or Boardwalk Empire (which shares the production's Prohibition-era setting) showcase a certain Shakespearean flair, even if the characters aren't speaking in iambic pentameter. Moore promises that the look won't interfere with the story or the characters. Having Birk, most recently seen at the Guthrie's production of The Sunshine Boys, on hand certainly helps with that. As does the full cast, which includes the likes of Gary Briggle, Stephen D'Ambrose, Jennifer Blagen, and Stacia Rice. In previews through October 25.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Oct. 19. Continues through Nov. 11, 2012