Cedarville’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ Takes Shakespeare to the 1950s

Cedarville’s theatre program has modernized Shakespeare’s comedic love story, “The Taming of the Shrew.” It is showing Oct. 3-13.

Professor and show director Matt Moore has changed the setting from a city-state in Italy during the Italian Renaissance to Little Italy in the 1950s and added a singing group known as the “Shrew Crew” to help propel the story along.

“They (the Shrew Crew) are the ones who really help us feel the 1950s because of the music,” Moore said. “The six person group is great.”

“Most singers are strong performers. This group of six is very strong and poised,” Moore said of the Shrew Crew. “[They are] great singers, dancers and actors, a triple threat.”Two members of the Shrew Crew, senior Anna Zavodney and sophomore Robert Rhodes, are also members of the student a cappella singing group, The Inversions.

Moore himself had a chance to be in a version of “The Taming of the Shrew” this summer through the New Players Theater in Columbus.

“The best way to get to know a play is to be in it,” he said.

Moore said his experience acting in the play this summer challenged him to think about the play in different ways. He said it reminded him as the director what the actors go through.

The New Players Theater’s adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew” was also set in the ‘50s.

“I have seen it set in the Elizabethan times, the Wild West, almost any decade,” Moore said.

Moore said there was a very hierarchical, male-dominated structure to male/female relationships in the ‘50s and to some degree in Elizabethan times. The play fits in both eras because of this take on gender roles.

Rhodes, a member of the Shrew Crew, said Shakespeare’s works are written in such a way they can be set in different time periods, allowing the audience to reimagine roles in different ways with characters and props.

Rhodes said that Moore is an absolute genius and gets to put his own stamp on the play by having it set in a different decade.

Zavodney said the change in the time period does not change the storyline.

“How they portray it, it is easy to pay attention to and easy to understand,” Zavodney said.

Moore said to make sure the theatre students are well-rounded, Cedarville’s theatre program does a Shakespeare play every four years.

“I love the flexibility Shakespeare provides,” Moore said. “It works in so many settings. It is both exciting and terrifying to know that the play could be anything.”

Moore chose to change the decade of the play to modernize it for the audience.

“I love for audiences to closely relate to Shakespeare plays,” he said, “and setting it in modern times helps the audiences do that. They relate better to the costumes.”


Cedarville’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew” takes Shakespeare and puts a 1950s twist to it. | Photo From: Caleb Smith

Moore has incorporated the setting of Little Italy and American icons into the play with the firm belief that they work well together.

“It allowed me to use American music and icons, like the Hershey bar, teddy bear, root beer floats,” Moore said.

The changes in setting and time period aren’t the only changes made to help the audience identify with the play. Zavodney, the musical director of the Shrew Crew, said that while the music is not necessarily from the ‘50s, they are performing songs by Elvis, Frank Sinatra and other groups, with the songs arranged to the style of ‘50s music.

For Rhodes and Zavodney, the change in music allows them as actors to show another side of their talent. Singing and acting in a play differs from singing in an a capella group, such as The Inversions.

“They have different styles of arrangement,” Rhodes said. “Inversions is very current, what’s here, what’s now. The Inversions have a beatboxer.”

Though the two experiences are very different, both require practice time. The musicians have had to balance practice twice a week for the play and twice a week for The Inversions.

“You learn to multitask,” Rhodes said. “Someone told me you make time for the things you love, and this is what I love.”

Kathryn Sill is a sophomore journalism major and a reporter for Cedars. She loves running, dogs and eating food.

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