Saturday February 24th 2018

“The Taming of The Shrew”

Shakespeare, again? That is what Jane says every time we go to an opening at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier! What might one expect? But, her question is based on her belief that once you see a play, such as “The Taming of The Shrew” ( which is also the premise of “Kiss Me Kate”), why see it again? What can be different? Except the set, the cast and the direction? Other than those items, it is still the same old story. A man has two daughters. Both beautiful, one sweet the other a “shrew”, but he will not allow the younger, saintly daughter to be wed until he finds a mate for his Katherine, the “shrew”. The story is filled with typical Shakespeare “schtick”- mistaken identities, his favorite source of merriment.

BUT, the new production, now on the stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater under the direction of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines is very different. Yes, it is the original story, but with some very clever changes in the story. The story now takes place in 1919, during the suffrage marches, in Chicago, where a women’s Club, called the Columbia Women’s Club (with some very comical scenes written by Ron West, who truly understands satire and brings the story into the 1900’s with a slice of current events tossed in just for the fun of it) as they are preparing to rehearse their upcoming stage presentation of “The Taming of the Shrew”, BUT with an all female cast! If you know your history, theater-wise, back in the days of “The Bard” , it was men who played ALL the roles. In this updated comedy, it is women playing both men and women, many of whom play more than one role ( to perfection, I might add)!

The cast of women that has been assembled to do this zany look at Shakespeare and politics is amazing. Yes, they are a mixture of Chicago favorites and others brought in from New York, BUT THE MIX IS IDEAL, if not perfect, allowing this two-hour-forty-minute production ( with one intermission of ten minutes) be the shortest three hours of theater ever! To be honest, I did not want it to be over and I got the feeling that the entire audience felt the same.

When a director can fill the stage with talent such as Heidi Kettenring, E. Faye Butler,  Kate Marie Smith, Hollis Resnik ( who steals many a scene as Gremio and Peter, the maintenance man), Tina Gluschenko, Lillian Castillo (who is the comic relief as Biondello),, Cindy Gold, and newcomers, Alexandrea Henrikson ( her Katherine is among the finest I have ever seen) ,  Crystal Lucas-Perry ( whose Petruchio is a perfect foil for Henrikson’s Kate), Ann James, Rita Rehn, Faith Servant and Olivia Washington. Who says 13 is an unlucky number. For Gaines and company 13 is by far the best number in Chicago!

By joining the Suffragist movement and the political scene of that era with the powerful tale that Shakespeare wove in “The Taming of the Shrew”, Ms Gaines has brought history to entertainment in a way that makes Shakespeare enjoyable even for those who are not into the Bard and in particular the English language as it was in that period. By the way, kudos to Kevin  Gudahl for his coaching to these ladies. They were all clearly heard ( and understood no matter where you sat on the large Courtyard Theater). The set (Kevin Depinet) was powerful as were the costumes (Susan E. Mickey) and the lighting (Thomas C. Hase) and sound (David Van Tieghem, who also wrote the original music). By the way, although this is NOT a musical, they did throw in some songs of the era just for fun ( and they were fun).

The fight Choreography was by Matt Hawkins and the musical direction by Chicago’s own Roberta Duchak, Richard Jarvie handled the wigs and make-up, which at times was difficult as these were women playing men and had some hair to hide. FYI-the idea of women’s clubs and Shakespeare is REAL! The Women’s Clubs were in all of  the  major  cities and literature itself was the main focus for the women to meet about. After all, it was education for women, along with equal rights- to work and vote that caused the suffrage movement. Much of what you will see on the stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is based on fact, and the way this one is done, is just plain fun! Not just for the audience, but one can see that the actors that make it all happen were having an absolute ball!

“The Taming of the Shrew” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater located at Navy Pier will continue thru November 12th with performances as follows:

 

Thu, Sep 28: 7:30pm
Fri, Sep 29: 7:30pm
Sat, Sep 30: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 1: 2:00pm & 6:30pm
Wed, Oct 4: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Oct 5: 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 6: 7:30pm
Sat, Oct 7: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 8: 2:00pm
Wed, Oct 11: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 13: 7:30pm
Sat, Oct 14: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 15: 2:00pm
Wed, Oct 18: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Oct 19: 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 20: 7:30pm
Sat, Oct 21: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 22: 2:00pm
Tue, Oct 24: 7:30pm
Fri, Oct 27: 7:30pm
Sat, Oct 28: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Oct 29: 2:00pm & 6:30pm
Wed, Nov 1: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Nov 2: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Nov 3: 7:30pm
Sat, Nov 4: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 5: 2:00pm
Wed, Nov 8: 1:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Nov 9: 7:30pm
Fri, Nov 10: 7:30pm
Sat, Nov 11: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 12: 2:00pm

Tickets range from $48- $88 and are available at the box office

By calling  312-595-5600 or online at www.chicagoshakes.com

 

ACCESS Shakespeare

Audio described  10/22 at 2 p.m.  touch tour at noon

Open-captioned  11/2 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

ASL interpreted  10/27 7:30 p.m.

 

Discounted parking is available at Navy Pier (bring your ticket to theater for validation)

 

To see what others are saying, visit  www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at

“The Taming of the Shrew”

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