EPAC’s ‘Tempest’ survives and surpasses many storms

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

I was very eager to see EPAC’s summer Shakespeare production, The Tempest, at Endicott’s George W. Johnson Park. It’s my favorite Shakespearean work — I love how it explores fantasy, spirituality and forgiveness — so my expectations were high, and they were well met.

Director Tim Mollen offered a unique interpretation of this work, blending modern music without losing the classical style of the play. He simply brought together old and contemporary life, giving us the best of both worlds. There were several stunning moments when real life combined with comedy, and the result were amazing.

I cannot write this review without mentioning some of the obstacles that Mollen and his cast had to overcome. They had to: replace two lead actors less than week before the opening, adjust to losing their set and costumes and contend with severe thunderstorms. I woud have understood if the production had fallen flat, given the seemingly insurmountable challenges at hand. Yet, Mollen pulled his cast together and did not let the setbacks prevent us audience members from enjoying the play.

Of course, the resilient cast had much to do with the success of this show. Chris Nickerson stole the show as Caliban, the unnatural monster who inhabits the island. He truly connected with his “inner beast,” delivering a top-notch performance. Josh Sedelmeyer as Ariel, Prospero’s top fairy spirit, had less than three days to learn this large and integral part, yet one would never know that from how effortless he played it. He embodied Ariel well, making him both comic and poignant. I must tip my hat to him. He was so adept that one is left to think that him playing this part, while unintended, was a most happy accident.

Brett Nichols stepped into the role of Prospero at the same time as Sedelmeyer, and although Nichols uses a script, he wac charming, and his journey as Prospero really happened before our eyes. Simply amazing. I must mention Dustin Crispell, who played Trinculo, the drunken sidekick in drag. He brought sassiness to Shakespeare, and the result was wonderful and unforgettable.

I would like to take a moment to tell the cast that I really could write something complimentary about all of you. You all are troopers, and your triumph in the face of adversity is tremendous. You all deserve a round of applause for coming together the way you did. Everyone involved — cast, crew, and director — made this happen. You remind me that, no matter what happens, the show must go on! Congratulations to you all on a job well done!

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May the Bard be with you: Shakespeare made mod

Reviewed by David L. Schriber

The thought of combining 37 Shakespearean plays into a single two-hour farce was too good to pass up, so we took a drive up Route 12 to the Chenango River Theatre (CRT) in Greene to take in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield; premiered in 1987 and performed subsequently in London and off-Broadway, the spoof encourages improvisation, adaptation to local culture and interaction with the audience.

This version, while not exactly belly-laughing slapstick comedy to the frenetic level of Mel Brooks or Robin Williams, definitely had a certain offbeat “Monty Python-meets-Reader’s Digest Condensed Books” character to it. Detailed knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays was not really necessary to appreciate the humor of themes such as “The Real Housewives of Verona,” a compilation of Will’s 12 comedies.

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All-female “Henry V” updates classic, provokes debate

Reviewed by Kellie Powell

The Binghamton University Theatre Department recently presented an all-female version of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” directed by visiting assistant professor Michael F. Toomey. Countless directors have attempted to “shake up Shakespeare” by changing time periods and locations, using color-blind casting and experimenting with gender roles, usually with mixed results — and this production is no exception. “Henry V,” which is probably most famous for King Henry’s “band of brothers” speech, is a fairly macho play. To their credit, rather than impersonating men, members of BU’s all-female cast played characters — kings, soldiers, drunks and thieves — who happened to be men. In doing so, they were able to portray both the vulnerability that modern men are rarely allowed to display publicly and the bloodthirsty ambition that even modern women are discouraged from expressing. Read the rest of this entry »
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