“I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;If wealthily, then happily in Padua.”(“The Taming of the Shrew,” Act 1 scene ii)
And so begins the classic battle of the sexes, William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” This past September, Old Academy Players, Germantown’s local community theater, put up a rolicking production of the hilarious comedy that was filled to the brim with GFS talent.
The play is centered around two sisters — the beautiful, younger Bianca and her nasty older sister Kate — the ‘shrew’ of the play. While Bianca has many suitors, Kate’s wild temperament has scared away all of her own potential husbands. This poses a problem when the girls’ father decides that Bianca can only be courted once Kate is married off, so Bianca’s suitors must take drastic measures to find the one man who is willing to ‘tame’ Kate: the swaggering, clever Petruchio. Recognize the story? The movie “10 Things I Hate About You” is based on “The Taming of the Shrew!”
What follows is a hilarious comedy about the dynamics between husbands and wives, sisters, friends, and lovers. There are weddings and mistaken identities and lots of silliness and fun — Shakespeare at his best.
The production at Old Academy was a lovely interpretation of Shakespeare’s text. The intimacy of the 100-seat Old Academy house and a strong ensemble were a wonderful combination. GFS cast members included Skye Pagon ’14 as a deliciously catty Bianca, and Griffin Brady ‘13 and Jessica Hobbs-Pifer ’17 as many roles including servants, hunters, and attendants. Julia Wise as Kate was particularly spectacular — her character was so complete and believable, and the audience was able to understand and even admire Kate, despite her temper. Timothy Kirk as Petruchio was also splendid, as was Caleb Wise as Lucentio, Bianca’s favorite suitor.
Carla Childs, a GFS Drama teacher and director of “The Taming of the Shrew”, should be commended for successfully directing such a large play in such a small space. When asked about her favorite part of the theatrical process was for Shrew, she spoke to the cast size, saying that “One of the best things about the whole project was the way that 21 very different people, 28 if you count the support-crew, ranging in age from twelve to over seventy, managed to get along, listening to each others’ suggestions, appreciating each others’ talents, sympathizing with each others’ problems, sharing a very small dressing room, and working together to make the show the best that it could be.” The cast’s chemistry was evident both onstage and off — and as many of them had worked on Shakespeare before, the skill necessary to perform his classic plays was evident as well.
When asked about what makes Shakespeare so special, Skye Pagon ’14 said, “While his plays are considered fantastic literature, they’re also just great stories. They’re hilariously funny, clever, crude, beautiful, magical, and just plain entertaining.” And that was true for the production of the Old Academy this September as well!