Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Homeschool Teens and Theatre Arabian Nights

By • Apr 14th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

After a treacherous experience with his first wife, palace ruler Shahrayar seeks revenge through serial marriage and beheading of new wives each night until young Shahrazad forces him to step back and take a deeper look at himself through her telling of 1,001 Arabian stories. Recently, the Homeschool Teens and Theatre (TNT) brought the Arabian Nights tales to life on the Comedy Spot stage in the Ballston Commons Mall.

A different version than usually performed, this production of Arabian Nights was written by Dominic Cooke in a presentational narrative style as opposed to the traditional natural approach. The story revolves around an independent young woman, Shahrazad (Brynn Deakins) and her sister Dinarzad (Meridian Gantz-Ratzat) who together believe Shahrazad can change the king’s ways of serial marriage and beheading by telling a series of stories each night before dawn breaks in order to stop him from ordering her to the executioner. Eventually she forces King Shahrayar (Stefan Lopez) to take a look inside himself and to listen to the myriad of characters and their stories that are presented to him.

Overall, the production was filled with abundant energy from the actors, as many played multiple roles in this imaginative play.

Standing out with a great performance was lead actress Brynn Deakins for her Shahrazad role. A wonderful stage presence and extremely clear articulation and projection served her character well. She remained at the top of her energy throughout the sincere portrayal of the character and really shone through as a leader among the cast.

Meridian Gantz-Ratzat was also notable as a great featured actress with her portrayal of the younger sister Dinarzad. Her characterization was playful and full of youth with just the right mixture of sincerity and naiveté. Gantz-Ratzat also played various other roles throughout presentation of different stories–each character different from the last and an acting challenge. Also noteworthy is Alex Badley, an amusing ensemble player with his assortment of roles in the stories–most memorable as the Singing Tree in The Story of the Envious Sisters.

The costumes in this production were absolutely fantastic. The crew of Elizabeth Angel, Deakins, and Chanukah Jane Lilburne did a wonderful job of construction and sticking to the time period while finding some forty-percent of the costumes by thrift-shopping or borrowing. The Props and Effects crew must also be noted, even though some props’ use was inconsistent, the special effects really brought the playful aspects of the show to life.

Though some uncertain elements existed in the show, for instance actors stumbled over lines and the second half seemed to be nearly all improvised, the show made the audience laugh (whether or not intended to do so) and the cast looked to be having fun. Quite a different choice of show for a high school production, Arabian Nights by the Homeschool TNT displayed the theatre’s origin in oral tradition.

by Kalyna Jowyk of Westfield

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