Cabrini Theatre recently started its two-week run of “Shakespeare on the Green” and much to my own surprise, I left the theatre absolutely pleased with what I saw.
“Shakespeare on the Green” takes four of Shakespeare’s classics and attempts to put them in a more modern and comedic light. Also attempting to keep things classified as an “Introduction to Shakespeare” the book by Amanda Petefish-Schrag and Ben Shrag keeps each play to about 20-30 minutes each.
Starting the show with “The Taming of The Shrew,” seniors Joshua Muska and Alyssa Reape pull audiences right in as Petruchio and Kate. “The Taming of the Shrew” tells the tale of an clever fellow (Petruchio) who spends the majority of the short attempting to “tame” his unkind wife (Kate). The short consisted primarily of Muska and Reape, but junior Danton Moyer and freshman Cecelia Heckman also had their share of laughs as Lucentino and Bianca. Junior George Nave brought in many laughs as the tailor, but this was only the start of Nave’s stellar performance.
The next short in the program was a scene from “King Lear.” Showing the audience the steps and warning signs of a Shakespearean Tragedy, “King Lear” is adapted into a story of what-if’s and alternate endings if the King had taken different courses of action. King Lear (George Nave) really got the crowd going in this one while facing the decision of which daughter he should bestow his empire to. Heckman continued to shine in this short, despite her small role as the King’s fool. Senior Anna Giangiulio and junior Colin Kilroy drove this portion as the leading narrators.
The next short was from Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” and one short was by far the cleanest and funniest of the night. This short told the story of two twin brothers, who were separated early in childhood. The catch? Both of them are named Antipholus. Lost in a shipwreck, the two end up in two different cities with their respective servants, also both named Dromio. Going on an adventure of “errors” mistaking the two brothers and servants 29 times, Antipholus of Syracuse (Muska) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Moyer) work together as one, but also as their respective characters. The Dromio of Syracuse (Nave) and Ephesus (sophomore Evan Guinessy) brought humor to the serious mistakes made throughout the short. Once again, the narrators drove the scene, this time consisting of senior Heather LaPergola and freshman David Strouse.
The final short was from “The Winter’s Tale” ending the show with a warm message: friends can still be friends. Nave peaked in the final short as the narrator while telling the story of two kings, Leontes (Kilroy) and Polixenes (Muska). The two kings have a falling out after a long friendship and over the course of 16 years, Leontes life falls to shambles. At the end of the short, the narrator actually shows that he had fooled Leontes with some of his tellings, turning the the several mishaps into friendships.
The work put into this production by director Dr. Thomas Stretton is evident as Shakespeare is not an easy task for a theatre company of any level. Shakespeare’s work can often be a bit baffling, but throughout the entire show I never found myself confused or misunderstanding the content. Not being a fan of Shakespeare myself, Stretton started the pivot in my change of feelings.
The entire cast did a fantastic job, but after watching all four shorts, I was most impressed by Nave and LaPergola. Heckman and fellow freshmen Sarah Minnick and David Strouse all delighted as the standouts of the Class of 2018.
Scenic design by Joseph Urbanik was impressive as usual, effectively making use of the space he had in Cabrini’s blackbox. Costumes by Deborah Clair were colorful, fitting and appeared comfortable on the cast and all technical elements were on par under the supervision of Robert Iodice.
Ultimately, my thoughts are simple. If you have the chance to go see “Shakespeare on the Green,” do yourself a favor and go see it. Seating is limited, so reserve your tickets today.
LOQation’s coverage on “Shakespeare on the Green”
All Photos Dan Luner/Web Editor