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Bishop Ireton High School The Taming Of The Shrew

By • Nov 16th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

Saddle up and prepare yourself for a wild ride! Tough cowboys and headstrong broads await in Bishop Ireton High School’s tobacco spitting, gun-slinging take on Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece, The Taming Of The Shrew.

This classic 16th century play, modernized and set in 1870s Texas, was written by William Shakespeare and tells the story of Bianca, a ravishing young woman who has many suitors, but cannot be married until her belligerent older sister Katherina finds a husband. One of Bianca’s admirers, Hortensio, convinces his friend Petruchio to court Katherina, and tells him of her large dowry. Petruchio sets his sight on Katherina, but she isn’t as enthusiastic as he had hoped. Meanwhile, Hortensio faces troubles of his own when Bianca is romantically pursued by a mysterious new lover, Luciento. Crazy antics ensue, and the sister’s circumstances show just how woeful it is to be wooed.

The whole cast spoke in southern drawls that were both realistic and thoroughly consistent, and the dialect brought the full performance to a greater level. Shakespeare’s tough, wordy language was no match to Bishop Ireton’s set of talented actors, whom all kept the complex scansion from hindering their superb performances. Everyone was comfortable in their varying wacky roles, and gave great physicality to their energetic portrayals. Not once did any individual break character, and the company kept a high level of hilarity throughout the show.

An obvious highlight was Melanie Blower’s depiction of Katherina, the tough tomboy referred to in the title of the play. Blower flawlessly personified Katherina’s boisterous and aggressive traits, while also pulling off her more gentle moments of sincerity. Equally as gifted is Bruno del Alamo, who portrayed the witty and eccentric Petruchio. Del Alamo and Blower had natural chemistry in their humorous scenes, and they both used expressiveness and physical comedy to get the crowd roaring with laughter.

The cast included many, memorable supporting parts that showed just how diverse the town was. Sarah Moffit played Baptista, the kind, affable mother of Katherina. Moffit was extremely versatile, and gave her role a nice maternal touch. Another notable performance was Joey Ledonio, as the love-struck Hortensio. Ledonio took his character on hilarious lengths to win over Bianca’s heart, even if that meant dressing in a mariachi suit and playing the guitar.

The set, complete with a general store, sheriff’s office and saloon, looked as if it had been lifted from the badlands of the Wild West. It was a visually pleasing backdrop, and also added a great sense of authenticity to the play’s updated time period. The costume designers (Catherine Burgin, Lily Ramey, Danielle Rowen, Meg Webster) used prairie dresses, riding skirts, and cowhide accessories to further display the changed setting. Makeup, sound, and lighting were all additional artistic elements that made the audience genuinely feel as if they were sitting in the hot Texas sun.

The combination of spectacular acting and realistic ambiance made for an enjoyable production. Bishop Ireton High School proves that classical plays like The Taming Of The Shrew can be adapted and modernized into fresh, new pieces that leave viewers craving more.

by Julian Sanchez of Westfield High School

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