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Shrew: the Musical

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by John R. Briggs, Dennis West and William Shakespeare

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 3740

SHOWING : June 09, 2010 - August 08, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

directed by John R. Briggs
conceived & adapted by John R. Briggs
music & lyrics by John R. Briggs
and Dennis West
original arrangements by Dennis West
in repertory June 9 - August 8

A Georgia Shakespeare favorite returns! This musical adaptation of TheTaming of The Shrew is set in 1930s Miami, with Petruchio and Kate singing, dancing and matching wits like Fred and Ginger. It's fun for the whole family.


CAST & CREW LIST
Vincentio/Georgio Allan Edwards
Lucentio Neal A Ghant
Grumio Chris Kayser
Kate Park Krausen
Hortensio Brian Kurlander
Tranio Daniel May
Gremio Tim McDonough
Baptista Allen O'Reilly
Widow Courtney Patterson
Banker Brad Sherrill
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Schticky Business
by playgoer
Sunday, July 18, 2010
4.5
"Shrew: the Musical" at Georgia Shakespeare is not a show you should go to just to hear. Everyone in the cast has a fine voice, but the keys seem generally to be too low to let full vocal power come to the fore. It's only Allen O'Reilly, as Baptista (the father of Kate and Bianca), who has a voice I actually enjoyed listening to strictly for its quality. His mellow crooning in "A Father's Lament" sounded wonderful. Everyone else just sounded great.

"Shrew: the Musical" is, however, a show you should go to to SEE. The unit set design by Rochelle Barker is attractive in a tropical way, with palm trees and matching grand staircases. Costumes are generally in a pastel, tropical palette, adding to the sense of place in Miami. The 1930's feel, in both look and song styles, is very easy on the eyes and ears.

The choreography, by Jen MacQueen, does not allow the actors to slack off. Tap numbers involve a number of actors, with Joe Knezevich and Chris Kayser wowing the audience on those twin staircases. The finest dance work, though, is done by Park Krausen. Her fluid movements in the opening number draw the eye and make the sleek lines of her flowing pants look terrific.

Shakespeare has been watered down to make room for the songs and dances. That works fine here. The show is not wordy at all, with plot points clearly and tersely delineated, accompanied by abundant schtick. The show, while staged to a T, is probably slightly different at each performance, with different "bits" working better or worse depending on how split-second timing or stage pictures work. There's also a staged moment where Chris Kayser (as Grumio) makes Joe Knezevich break character (as Petruchio) that hopefully has a bit of spontaneity at each performance.

A large part of the enjoyment of attending a Georgia Shakespeare production is seeing the talented "regulars" cast in distinctly different roles in each show. Neil A. Ghant makes a splendidly smarmy tutor, while Daniel Thomas May and Brian Kurlander impress with their multiple accents in different disguises. An unexpected pleasure in this production, though, is newcomer Ann Marie Gideon as Bianca. She is the whole package when it comes to musical comedy – a wonderful singer, dancer, and actress. She is the equal of anyone else in the cast in all these categories.

The focus of the story, of course, is on Petruchio and the shrewish Kate ("Katherine!" as she repeatedly corrects him). Yet it's the goofiness of the comedy surrounding them that really expands the entertainment quotient of this production. "Shrew: the Musical" is a light, frothy paeon to 1930's musicals that works on most levels. True, there's one of the whitest gospel numbers I've ever experienced ("Brethren Hallelujah"), but the musical doesn't let anything go on longer than need be. That keeps the pace zippy and breathless. I was reminded of the days when David H. Bell's musicals sparked the Alliance Theatre's seasons. John R. Briggs, author and director, is presenting a cheerily entertaining show that lets audiences leave the theatre on the happiest of notes. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Much Ado About a Shrew
by Dedalus
Thursday, July 1, 2010
4.5
Who knew? Shakespeare Festival stalwarts Park Krausen and Joe Knezevich put on their dancing shoes and tap their way into one of the best musicals of the current season, Georgia Shakespeare’s third mounting of this song-and-dance take on “Taming of the Shrew.” So much livelier (and tightly directed) than its sprawling 1999 production, this show charges through the story with a wit and energy that lights up the Oglethorpe sky.

Like the recent Shakespeare Tavern “Shrew,” this production is more a celebration of the life force that is Katherine and Petruchio than a chronicle of her “taming” at his hands. Evenly matched the whole way, they are the perfect couple from their first meeting, tearing through life like a pair of lions tearing through a herd of zebras. Unlike his contemporaries (who would rely on abuse and violence to do the heavy lifting of the taming process), Shakespeare chose gamesmanship and wit to accomplish the same ends. Petruchio doesn’t so much tame Katherine, as finally convince her to join him in what promises to be a really lively and exciting partnership. To underscore this (apparently very modern) idea, adapter (and director) John R. Briggs has chosen to tweak the last scene, so that the final “bet” is a playful set-up between the two, rather than a sign of Katherine’s submission.

Mr. Briggs has set the story in a 1930’s milieu that owes more to MGM musicals than to actual history, Hortensio’s Miami hotel is the scene for Bianca’s “coming out” party where the usual gang of hangers-on lust for just one special favor. Into the hotel wander Lucentio, a student from Boston come to widen his horizons, and Petruchio, a dancer and stunt pilot from Virginia come to widen his wallet. The story then follows Shakespeare’s plot (and much of his dialogue).

Mr. Briggs peppers his script with a wide array of memorable melodies and dances, using various musical styles of the ‘30’s. He turns Katherine and Petruchio into Fred and Ginger with bite, uppercuts and groin-kicks getting equal time with pliés and pirouettes. It all leads up to a rousing “Dancin’ with the One I Love” finale and sends the audience out of the theatre, whistling and tapping into the (always) moonlit night.

Ms. Krausen and Mr. Knezevich are marvelous together, an almost perfect pairing. They attack their dances with fervor and dance their attacks with gusto. More to the point, I believed them as a couple from their first moments together (they have an admitted “leg-up” in this department, being married off-stage). Chris Kayser (the original Petruchio from way back in 1993) is on board as Grumio, sporting a loud purple coat, a slicked back oiliness, and an ease with a tap number that seems as if it were bred into his genes. Newcomer Ann Marie Gideon is marvelously sexy-spoiled and limber as Bianca with a voice like an angel and a high-kick to die for. Daniel Thomas May gives Tranio a Boston edge that is a delight, and newcomer Brian Kurlander channels Tony Soprano for a surprisingly winning Hortensio. If Neal Ghant and Allen O’Reilly (Lucentio and Baptista) have lighter singing voices than the others, it certainly doesn’t spoil their characterizations. And Courtney Patterson gives us an hysterically funny and shrill (and thin – watch for the running gag) widow for the final scenes. They are all ably supported by a fine ensemble, tuned to perfection by Musical Director Ann-Carol Pence and put through their paces by Choreographer Jen MacQueen.

Setting the whole thing on a beautifully deco-lite unit set, eliminated all the set-change delays that plagued the 1999 production, and kept the whole thing humming like a well-tuned bi-plane. I loved the look and sound of the production. And I especially loved all the music, which is still dancing its way through my head days after seeing it.

Over the last several years, “Shrew” has become one of my favorite Shakespeare works, mostly for the marvelous love story at its center, but also for the celebration of Katherine’s spirit that has pervaded so many recent productions. That it was so far ahead of its time in its attitudes towards marriage and women is often lost in post-feminist analyses of its plot, which is a shame. That it still lives and breathes in adaptations like this is simply cause for celebration.

So, how can I sit here and justify the time and expense to go see this throwback to the MGM musicals of yore? It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)



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