Taming of the Shrew by Phoenixville High School in Phoenixville, PA
December 13, 2016
Review submitted by Ellen Powers of West Chester East High School
Excitement filled the auditorium as the audience awaited Phoenixville Area High School’s interpretation of William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.
The Taming of the Shrew contains two major plot lines. Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, hopes to marry the wealthy Katherina Minola for her money, but he must “tame” her fiery personality first. At the same time, several suitors are vying for Katherina’s sister Bianca’s hand in marriage, resorting to disguises and other tricks to win her heart and her parents’ approval.
The production’s ensemble frequently served as background characters to each scene, and they really enhanced the production. Each of the actors and actresses in the ensemble were consistently in character, and they did a great job setting the atmosphere of each scene. One particular ensemble that really added to the production was the Widows, portrayed by Michele McCaleb, Xandra Coleman, and Rachael Hesse. Their original interludes were humorous and made Shakespeare’s complicated language much easier for the audience to understand.
As Petruchio, Dominic Nattle consistently displayed strong acting in his portrayal of his character throughout the production. Willetta Wisely did a fantastic job in her role of Katherina Minola, bringing admirable energy and emotions, in addition to a commanding stage presence, into her performance. Shay Comiskey (Lucentio) and India Knight (Bianca Minola) both gave terrific performances, developing their characters and their romance very well throughout the show.
Julianita Vlad (Biondella) gave a delightful performance, making her character endearing and entertaining to watch. As Signora Minola, Lauren Hoffman personified class in her impressive stage presence, and she did a fantastic job embodying her character. Chris Schlosman (Gremio) did a great job in his role, adding humor to the play both through his expressions and his hilarious character voice, which stayed spot-on throughout the entire show.
The sound crew had a difficult time working with the large number of microphones in the show, as microphones frequently cut out throughout the show. However, the actors did their best to work through the difficulties. The stage crew did a great job making the transitions between scenes smooth and quick.
Phoenixville Area High School had the difficult task of putting on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, and they did a fine job in their production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Review submitted by Noelle Mercer of Friends’ Central School
Lights, camera, action! On Saturday evening, Phoenixville Area High School gave a “televised” performance of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in front of a live studio audience. With wit, silly antics, and a dedicated cast, Phoenixville tackled this difficult production.
The Taming of the Shrew tells the story of a young scholar, Lucentio, who falls in love with Bianca, the beautiful daughter of the Minola family. Due to her beauty, Bianca has many suitors, however she cannot wed until her older, more ornery, sister, Katherina, is wed. Petruchio, a man looking for a wealthy wife, marries Katherina for her fortune, and through a series of ridiculous shenanigans, attempts to “tame” her impertinent nature. Though their production was not actually televised, Phoenixville’s play was staged on the set of a live television show, with TV producers and cameramen roaming on the sidelines. Along with this change, many of the roles were split and created to fit the large cast.
Lead actress, Willetta Wisely, played a scorned and fiery Katherina Minola. She expertly commanded the stage, and handled the witty, fast paced dialogue with Petruchio gracefully. Dominic Nattle (Petruchio), also brought his character to life, and garnered chuckles from the audience with a humorous costume change. Despite many of her lines being lost due to difficulties with the mics, India Knight portrayed the petulant and spoiled Bianca with energy and charisma. Her hilarious make out scene with Lucentio (Shay Comiskey) began the second act with uproarious laughter from the live studio audience.
The supporting actors also brought energy to the stage and meshed very well with one another. Noah Horton (Tranio) and Julianita Vlad (Biondella) were perfect partners in crime, and livened up every scene they were in with their comical physicality. Chris Schlosman played the old and grizzled Gremio with an impressive character voice that he maintained throughout the show. Originally a singular role, the three Widows (Michele McCaleb, Xandra Coleman, and Rachael Hesse), doled out helpful information between scenes with lines they wrote themselves. With their unison and snappy, “Widow-out,” the Widows kept the audience grounded in the world of the play. The ensemble as a whole worked very hard, and although they sometimes pulled focus from the main action, the cast stayed in character throughout the production.
All in all, Phoenixville Area High School put on an inventive and original production of Taming of the Shrew, and humorously encouraged the audience to, “brush up your Shakespeare, and start quoting him now.”