Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 3:30 a.m., June 1)

OYP Shakespeare classes tackle difficult material with gusto
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Olivia, played by Savannah Tulloch, gives orders to her servant Maria, played by Margaret Sherwin, during the OYP Junior Shakespeare production of the 'Twelfth Night'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

In the world of amateur theatre, doing a Shakespeare play, any Shakespeare play, is incredibly difficult, primarily due to the demands it places on the actors to memorize lengthy monologues and soliloquies and deliver them without fault.

And because there isn't an incredible amount of action in most Shakespearean plays, the acting is all in the delivery. You can't rush through Shakespeare. Every word of every sentence has to be enunciated properly and clearly. If not, you can lose your audience faster than it takes to exit stage left.

The Orleans Young Players Theatre School presented a Shakespearean double bill on Sunday featuring Twelfth Night by the Junior Shakespeare class and The Merchant of Venice by the school's senior thespians.

Although the junior production was rough in spots, especially during the afternoon performance, they managed quite well considering very few of them have ever been exposed to Shakespeare.

While a couple of the young actors were guilty of speeding through their lines and failing to properly enunciate their lines, a couple of the performances stood out. In particular, Kasey Kirkup was superb as Viola, especially during her opening scene with Savannah Tulloch who played Olivia, and Margaret Sherwin who played Olivia's servant Maria, and Kaera Griffin did a great job as Sir Toby Belch.

As stated earlier, the entire cast did a much better job in the evening performance than they did in the matinee. The problem is that Twelfe Night is difficult to follow at the best of times. The storyline with its interwoven sub-plots and themes of cross-dressing and mistaken identity, can be entirely confusing unless you're familiar with the material. It also doesn't help if you have two or three different actors playing the same character, as was the case in the OYP production.

Aris Penny, Zachary Wood and Phlox Todd all played the love sick Malvolio at various times during the play and Griffin shared the role of Sir Toby Belch with Sarrah Anderson. The rest of the cast included Adriana Baker who played the court jester Feste, Ryan Griffith who played Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Grace Mayhew who shared the role of Viola with Kirkup.

While the junior production was had it's issues, the only issue I had with the senior production of "The Merchant of Venice" was that it was too short. The entire cast was terrific. Even sitting at the back of the theatre, I could hear every word and was able to follow along with ease despite the use of olde english.

Andreas Hohenstein's performance as the vengeful and dastardly Shylocke was especially powerful as was Danny Bettencourt who played Bassanio. The rest of the cast included Cristina Wood as Anthonia; Celeste Tooker who did double duty as Solania and the Duke; Jessica Armstrong who played Gratiana and Salarina; and Kelsae Harding who was especially busy as Portia, Tuball, Nerissa and Gratiana.

It was easy to tell that he play was not the cast's frist exposure to Shakespeare. In fact, a number of them are graduates of the the junior class. Both classes are currently being taught by Will Somers who selected the scripts from Shakespeare's First Folio which contains 36 of the English playwright's works written in the English dialect of the day and published seven years after his death.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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