Here is what we shared with the media about our production of The Taming of the Shrew, which opens at the Wells-Metz Theatre next Thursday (check the performance calendar here).
The Taming of the Shrew will be presented in repertory by the Indiana Festival Theatre, opening in the Wells-Metz Theatre on July 5. Like Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, which we produced last summer, The Taming of the Shrew employs many elements of farce: disguises, mistaken identities, and broad physical humor. If Shakespeare had taken it one degree further, the actors would be throwing pies. The Taming of the Shrew was the basis for Cole Porter’s successful 1949 musical, Kiss Me, Kate.
There are at least three love plots in The Taming of the Shrew, but the central one features Katherina, a strong willed, spirited young woman who treats suitors, her sister, and her family forcefully and harshly. She does not, to use the old phrase, suffer fools gladly, and sometimes fools seem to be all that surround her. Some of her would-be boyfriends think her “a devil” who is “too rough”: Katherina is the shrew in the title of the play, and she’s pretty much someone who has isolated herself from all those around her.
Katherina is courted by Petruchio, a young man who is a returning veteran, a fellow who has heard the thunder of cannon and artillery, been in pitched battle, and “heard loud alarms, neighing steeds, and trumpets’ clang.” He tells his rivals for Katrina’s hand that, having lived through war, he is not afraid of a mere woman’s harsh tongue. “Tush, tush!” he exclaims. “Fear boys with bugs.” Petruchio is an idiosyncratic, impulsive, and short-tempered fellow, and his war-time service makes him as much an outsider as Katherina.
The courtship of Katherina and Petruchio is, well, a spirited one, their wedding ceremony is a disaster, and the honeymoon at Petruchio’s house a good deal less than cordial. The “taming” of his “Kate”—which involves lively arguments, squabbles, and the deprivation of food and sleep—changes both wife and husband, as will be seen in the Indiana Festival Theatre production.
For this outing of The Shrew, director Jonathan Michaelsen has brought the comedy into modern times, placing it in sunny Padua, Florida. “I wanted a setting with good weather and sexy people,” he says. “I wanted a place where there could be a party happening at almost any time—a spring break that goes on without end.”
Into this good life comes Petruchio, a veteran of the Afghan conflict. Petruchio is played by Professsor Adam Noble, who teaches movement and stage combat in the Department of Theatre and Drama. He’s choreographing the fights for The Taming of the Shrew, which means he’s coaching our Kate, actress (and recent M.F.A. graduate) Molly Casey, on how to beat him safely, yet with farcical, comic flare.
“This is a wonderful Shakespearean comedy,” says Jonathan Michaelsen, “yet it has some substance and a very intriguing relationship, that of Kate and Petruchio. We all enjoy the disguises, lovers, complications, farce, and comedy, but this is also a love story, where two social rejects find a way toward love, fashioning a solid relationship with one another. It’s an interesting play and makes for a great evening of theatre.”
Adding to the comic mayhem are Theatre and Drama voice and speech faculty member Nancy Lipschultz (Baptista), English faculty member Ray Hedin (Vincentio), guest artists Rob Johansen (Gremio), Ken Farrell (a Pedant), and Ben Abbott (Hortensio), recent M.F.A. graduates Abby Rowald (a Widow) and Jayson Wright (a Tailor), and students Andrea Mellos (Bianca), Nicole Bruce (Grumio), Clayton Gerrard (Curtis), Aaron Densley (Lucentio), Timothy Pyles (Tranio), Jackson Goldberg (Biondello), Evelyn Gaynor (Servant).
The creative team includes scenic designer Tim Barbiaux, costume designer Jason Orlenko, lighting designer Lee Burckes, and sound designer Colin Shay. Olivia Ellery is the stage manager.