Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't miss Shakespeare by the Sea! The Critics love it!

Bard tragedy showcase for talented youths

July 07, 2009

HYANNIS — The weather was beautiful at Aselton Park Sunday night, and Shakespeare by the Sea's "Romeo and Juliet" for the town's Harbor Your Arts program proved a fine showcase for the talented actors of Barnstable Summer Family Theatre.
The outdoor venue did, though, present challenges that weren't present to the young actors when the Barnstable High School Drama Club performed the show indoors last spring. Some of the dialogue got lost when the wind assaulted the actors' microphones. But the sounds of dogs barking and car horns honking were not enough to drown out the actors' impressive command of Shakespearean English.
The cast and director Ed O'Toole make the most of the outdoor venue. Having the actors enter the stage by cutting through the audience — as though the crowd were part of the play — is a great way to keep the audience engaged and prevent the distractions of the outdoors from becoming overwhelming. The play runs about two hours and moves at a steady pace.
O'Toole's decision to sprinkle a few modern touches in the tragic love story makes for some funny surprises. There is, for example, a Shakespearean interpretation of "The Hokey Pokey" ("'Tis what it's all about") performed at the Capulets' party. The dance scenes' choreography by Jen Hayes and Linnea Donnelly is executed with precision, and the play's sword fights are carried out with an almost frighteningly real swiftness.
As Mercutio, a companion to lovelorn Romeo, Ethan Brown has an irrepressible presence and great timing that make him impossible to ignore. He never misses a beat, has a good grasp of the language and and his swagger belies his slight frame. His cries of pain and final words in reaction to his mortal wound are startlingly realistic. Capulet is played by Jason Pacella, whose portrayal of an authoritative father who crumbles when he believes his daughter, Juliet, has died is heartbreaking.
Romeo is played with passionately naive sweetness by Seth Garcia. As Juliet, Cait Gardipe sounded a little shaky at first on Sunday, but was increasingly captivating as the tension grew around and within her. She and Garcia are confident and believably play off of one another. Gardipe is especially effective when she cries out one last time for her nurse, as she faces the terrifying realization that she must decide on her own what to do.
The set — designed and painted by Emma Eichner, Kendra Bourne and Michelle McGaughey, and constructed by Evan Haussmann — are simply and tastefully done. The intricately painted plants on the walls are lovely.

On stage
What: "Romeo and Juliet"
Presented by: Barnstable Summer Family Theatre in collaboration with Barnstable's Harbor Your Arts program and its Shakespeare by the Sea
When: 5 p.m. Sunday and July 19 and 26
Where: Aselton Park, at the corner of Ocean and South streets, Hyannis
Admission: Free (audience

Romeo and Juliet a summer must-“sea”
Written by Kathleen Szmit
Shoreline Shakespeare in Hyannis

Manhattan may have Shakespeare in the Park, but Hyannis has Shakespeare by the Sea.
Each Sunday evening in July, fans of the Bard can bring blankets and beach chairs to Aselton Park on the Hyannis waterfront for a spirited rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performed by Barnstable Family Summer Theatre.
The production was first seen earlier this spring in the Knight Hall at Barnstable High School. Traditionally, comedies are chosen for the spring Shakespeare show.
This year, however, Shakespeare teacher and director Ed O'Toole opted to break from tradition and go with what is perhaps Shakespeare’s most well known tragedy. It was a risk, but a risk that proved a solid success as each show performed at BHS this spring played to a packed house.
Part of the show’s success lies with the cast, a terrific mix of past and present BHS Drama Club members and students from O'Toole's classes. I was most impressed with the performances of KC Schuck as Juliet’s Nurse, Ethan Brown as Mercutio, Cait Gardipe as Juliet, and especially Seth Garcia as Romeo.
During the show’s first performance on July 5, this group, along with the rest of the tremendous cast, entertained a sizeable crowd with their impressive talents.
Brown, along with the hilarious Harry O’Toole as Benvolio, offered comic relief from the show’s serious tone, particularly during the challenging Queen Mab speech, which he delivered flawlessly.
Schuck, as the Nurse, was wonderful in conveying every feeling, from joy at Juliet’s discovery of love with Romeo to profound sorrow at Juliet’s untimely death.
It was Garcia, however, who simply shined as the lovestruck lead, delivering his lines with sincerity and believability. Like Isaiah Voegeli, who portrayed Romeo in several spring performances, Garcia was an ideal match for Gardipe’s powerful Juliet.
Gardipe, a woman with a tremendous future ahead of her, evoked much emotion as the fair Juliet. Whether discussing marriage with Romeo or battling her parents for her freedom, she was wonderful to watch.
Also impressive was Jason Pacella as Juliet's strong-willed father, Matt Kohler as the Prince, Tommy Myers as Tybalt, and Sam Bechtold as Friar Laurence.
Emma Eichner, Kendra Bourne and Michelle McGaughey worked marvels creating the simple, yet effective set, while Evan Haussmann did a fine job on the set. I also appreciated the mix of old and new in costume designer Breana Cole's use of modern-day dress against the age-old set.
Shakespeare fans, and even those just looking for an excellent production, will definitely want to see this show during its run at Aselton this summer. This skilled and talented cast does not disappoint in bringing Romeo and Juliet to life yet again.
Romeo and Juliet can be seen each Sunday evening in July beginning at 5 p.m. at Aselton Park in Hyannis. The show is free and refreshments are on sale during the performance.

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