But Where Was Bruce Willis?

This evening we went out to Hart Park to see “Taming of the Shrew”, a joint production of Repertory East Playhouse and Canyon Theatre Guild. It was a perfect evening, and Hart Park was the perfect location: lots of shade trees, the sun setting behind the hills, in an nice bowl area.

I presume everyone knows the story of “Taming of the Shrew. You’ve either seen it at a Renaissance Faire, or watched the musical “Kiss Me Kate”, or for those of my generation, watched the “Atomic Shakespeare” episodes of Moonlighting. I must say, in reference to the latter, that throughout tonight’s production that episode of Moonlighting just kept coming into my head. Where was the BMW Horse? Where were the sunglasses? Where were the slamming doors?

Anyway, being Shakespeare in the Park, the staging was simple: a basic static set, a few props carried on and off, and static lights for twilight. What shown about the production was the acting, which (except for one or two minor roles) was spot on and excellent. In the lead roles of Katherina and Petrucio were Rebekah Dunnæ and Stephan Whelan. Both were strong in the roles, personified their characters, projected strongly and clearly, and were just perfect. Jenna Eberberger played Bianca, Kate’s sister, and David Wisehart, Baptista, Kate and Bianca’s father. Again, both were very good (although the Moonlighting episode colored my perception of Baptista. Lucento (Cambio) [Bianca’s eventual husband] was Brandon Pugmire, and his servent, Tranio, was Lachlan McKinney. Hortensio, one of Bianca’s suitors, was B. D. Christensenæ. Bianca’s other suitor was Pete Laughlin as Gremio–I was less impressed with his aging makup, but after all, this is Shakespeare. The ever beat upon Gumio was Dasch Shenberger. One remaining actor of particular mention was Myrna Velasco, who played a very mirthful Biondello. Others in the cast were: Chloe Watterson (Curtis), Chriss Nicholas (Pedant), Jay Potter (Servant/Tailor), Erik Klein (Nathaniel/Scribe), Richard McNallyæ (Vincentio), Mariana Muzzi (Widow), and Lindalee Rose (Baby Grumia). [Oh, and Spencer Greenberg (Nicholas/Servant)… I inadvertently missed his name when I first typed this up]
[æ denotes members of æ Actors Equity]

As I noted, I really enjoyed the acting in this production. With the exception of the actress playing the Widow, all of the players were really into the production and having fun with it (I especially enjoyed when Grumio tossed the apple… and made a perfect basket into one of the park trashcans, over the corner of the set… he got a round of applause for that one).

Technical credits: Director: David Ian Stears, Stage Manager: Shannon Bivens, Costume Designers: Flo Loring and Lynn McQuown, Technical Director: Rayn Masey, Choreography: Rebekah Dunn, Scenic Painters: Chloe Watterson and Caron Clancey. The production was produced by Timben Boydston and Ovington Michael Owston (better known as “O”). I should that “O” was there tonight, together with Mikee Schwinn and Bill Quinn, all of Rep East. It was great to be able to see them — they are just really nice people.

Lastly, I should note: for all the theatre I’ve seen, this was actually the first time I’ve seen a full Shakespeare play on stage.

Next up on our theatre calendar is “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Ahmanson Theatre (Sun 7/13 @ 1pm), “Parade” at Neighborhood Playhouse, Palos Verdes (Sat 7/19 @ 8pm), “Looped” at Pasadena Playhouse (Sat 7/26 @ 8pm), “Singing in the Rain” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (Sat 8/2 @ 2pm), and “Assassins” at West Coast Ensemble (Sun 8/10 @ 2pm). I may still ticket “Songs From an Unmade Bed” at Celebration Theatre (perhaps 7/5). We’re also looking into “Big Bad Voodoo Daddy” at the Hollywood Bowl on 7/16.