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Actor takes Shakespeare to schools, to audiences and to heart

(Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Michael B. Perkins finds himself in a very unusual position.

He’s simultaneously playing the same character in two different plays with two different companies.

Of course, it’s a character with plenty of potential — William Shakespeare.

He says his friends in the theater world — and Perkins, 26, has worked with many St. Louis companies — have never heard of anyone in just this situation.

Perkins plays a thoughtful, helpful bard — the one he calls “good Shakespeare” — in “Cruel To Be Kind,” a touring production that Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents in schools throughout the area. Part of a Festival program that addresses bullying, the play by Festival education director Christopher Limber riffs on “As You Like It” and the London theater world of 1599, “where Shakespeare has no rivals,” Perkins said. “I play him as confident and unfettered. He’s a superstar.”