Jake Chechowitz (from left) as Pedant, Jessica Faus as Biondello and Ruth McLeod as Tranio share a moment in the garden. (photo by Chelsey Hinsenkamp)

By Chelsey Hinsenkamp

SLN Staff

This weekend marks the return of a world-famous playwright’s work to the stage of the Elkhorn Area High School when students will present “The Taming of the Shrew.”

The school hasn’t tackled a play by William Shakespeare since the late ‘90s, according to Director Lisa Dettman-Webb, but the students felt “this would be an exciting challenge,” she said.

With the show debuting this Friday, Nov. 2, the students have been hard at work building sets and learning lines in anticipation of the 7 p.m. opening performance.

Student performers said they hope to see a good turnout for the classic farce.

“We’ve been putting some hard work into this… it’s Shakespeare, and I think we do manage to pull off some pretty funny moments,” said Rhiennon Gregoire, who plays the leading role of ‘shrew’ Katharina.

The plot involves a lot of twists, including characters posing as other characters in order to woo the ones they are after, and of course the overriding theme by which the character Petruchio sets out to marry and then tame the rebellious Katharina, turning her into an “obedient and proper wife.”

Though the play has raised questions about its seemingly sexist message, Dettman-Webb said in the interest of not offending viewers, “Hopefully the audience will grasp that this play is a farce.”

She said the group even covered how to make the humor clear through Katharina’s character.

“We have discussed how the delivery of Katharina’s final speech should convey this,” Dettman-Webb explained.

Gregoire is especially excited for the opportunity to play the starring role.

“I actually switched to Elkhorn High School to do theater,” she explained. “I just really like theater; just like costumes, scenery and lines and what not – it’s really fun for me.”

Rhiennon Gregoire struts defiantly across the stage showing off her character Katharina’s rebellious nature. Tanner North and Calen Holte as Hortensio and Petruchio respectively, watch on while discussing how one might go about ‘taming’ her. (photo by Chelsey Hinsenkamp)

As for her character Katharina, the actress said, “She’s very angry, she’s very curst. She’s very outgoing and not a lady of her time…she’s scary.”

Gregoire added that she is able to relate to the shrew saying, “I have a temper as well; my mother told me I have been type casted.”

Gregoire said her favorite scene in the play is “Definitely the one I do with Jennifer Mitchell (who plays Bianca) when we are fighting. I’m like shoving and pushing her and she’s like attacking me and we’ve got it all worked out and it’s really fun.”

Senior Ruth McLeod, who plays the role of the servant Tranio – a character attempting to woo Katharina’s sister while disguised as his master – said her favorite scene is when, “We’re discovered that we’ve been creating this lie and I’ve been pretending to be someone else and we basically get to just run off stage like maniacs. It’s very fun.”

McLeod says she has always had a passion for theater.

“I’ve done the play the whole time I’ve been in high school and I just really like being involved in theater. It’s a really big part of my life,” she said.

According to her, her character is “very cunning… very prideful and quite silly,” and described how her interpretation of him is a bit different than what is typical.

“Normally Tranio is played by a man so that’s definitely a unique interpretation – you have to take it from a different angle,” she explained.

Even still, McLeod said she is able to relate to Tranio in some ways.

“I can definitely relate to the idea of trying to help someone with whatever you can do to help them,” she said.

With all the difficult language involved in the play and the in-depth plot twists, Dettman-Webb said learning the play has been a process.

“We have spent time interpreting meaning and, as always, analyzing the characters’ motivation,” she explained. “It has been very enjoyable watching our cast develop character as a result.”

The end result is a production that Dettman-Webb said she thinks will be fun for everyone.

“This play, one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, offers powerful language, word play and slapstick humor,” Dettman-Webb described. “It promises an enjoyable evening for everyone.”

The play will be performed in the James A. Wehner auditorium at the school, 482 E. Geneva St., on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2 and 3, at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door.

 
 

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