Opening night of Cedarville’s “The Taming of the Shrew” was a success and not only because it was performed to a full house. From the first words sung on stage by the “Shrew Crew,” as the six-person ensemble has been dubbed, to the thunderous applause after the closing scene, the theatre never saw a dull moment.
Members of the audience were immediately drawn into the action on stage. In the midst of Padua, a 1950s “Little Italy” community, we witness a struggle for love. There is Bianca, a girl that many men want to “woo” and her sister Katherina, a girl that many call a “shrew” but few dare even to look in the eye. The twist comes as Bianca’s father, Baptista, forbids her to marry before her older sister, Katherina, is married. This poses a struggle for Bianca’s many “wooers.”
The cast reached out to interact with the audience. At times, cast members stood waiting for a trumpet to be “tooted” by a lad in the first row and exchanged multiple winks and smirks with the audience. These artful expressions only caused the audience to laugh louder.
And laughter was plentiful throughout the production, thanks to the many puns exchanged between characters; the humorous body language of Tranio and the person posing as Lucentio’s father; a fight between the sisters as Katherina tears the arms off of Bianca’s teddy bear; and the use of a banana as a gun.
In moments when laughter was absent, the audience was entertained by ‘50s style a capella songs sung by the Shrew Crew, dialogue closely following Shakespeare’s writings and various mumblings from the audience as wry jokes were exchanged on stage.
Although the set was simple – just a bench here, a carpet there and the colorful costumes typical of the 1950s – the energy from the audience and cast members alike made opening night one to remember.
It wasn’t what was on stage that made “The Taming of the Shrew” so great, it was what was in the characters of the cast – the mix of their personality, some slapstick humor and a dose of Shakespearean language.
Expect to find yourself drawn into this “Little Italy” community inside the DeVries Theatre during the remaining performances this weekend and next.
Anna Dembowski is a sophomore journalism major and a reporter for Cedars. She likes nearly anything that is the color purple and enjoys spelling the word “agathokakological.”