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Theatre in the park
Taming of the Shrew promises to be playful
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 5 juillet 2012

Courtesy photo/Antoine Yared

Kirsten Rasmussen (Kate) and Alex McCooeye (Petruchio)

The Taming of the Shrew, a timeless take on love and the war of the sexes, is ripe with humorous yet nuanced material. Co-director Andrew Shaver is bringing William Shakespeare’s comedy to life in NDG park on July 15.

The set design will feature a swinging “1960s Fellini feel” while incorporating nods to the Shakespearian era. Shaver is enthusiastic about the contribution of costume designer Susana Vera, with whom he collaborated for the Sidemart Theatrical Grocery production of Haunted Hillbilly. Her creations combine, for example, “a fine Italian suit with an Elizabethan ruffle.”

To add authenticity and richness to the experience, actor Davide Chiazzese will be playing traditional Italian music throughout, drawing on his “authentic Sicilian folk tradition experience.” This element is particularly important to Shaver, who affirms that the incorporation of live music and singing in theatrical performance is “really important to the future of theatre. The best Shakespeare has music and song.”

Although he has directed modern productions such as Scientific American for several years, this will be Shaver’s first time directing a Shakespeare production after spending three seasons at the world-renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival as an actor and assistant director. “It’s a golden opportunity,” he enthuses.

The Taming of the Shrew is very playful, which I think plays to my strongest suits as a director.”

Shaver isn’t thrown off by switching from such contemporary fare as Sidemart’s Haunted Hillbilly to classic Shakespeare. “There are very playful, modern aspects in Shakespeare,” he muses. In terms of switching from acting Shakespeare to directing it, Shaver says that “it’s a blessing to switch brains like that. You have empathy towards what’s happening onstage. The last few years have been really good for me, seeing everything as a whole and not just the individual elements.”

NDG actor Matthew Gagnon will interpret the role of Grumio in his first full-length performance in a Shakespeare play. The Concordia grad is also enthusiastic about the upcoming performance. “What’s fun about outdoor shows is that you’re immersed with the audience, you can get them to join in. It’s like a different show each night.” As he is beginning to get recognized for his work in television commercials, Gagnon will appear in the upcoming Walter Salles film On the Road.

Shakespeare-in-the-Park’s Taming of the Shrew, directed by Andrew Shaver and Paul Hopkins is coming to NDG Park on July 15 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Non-perishable food items will be accepted on site to help support local food banks.

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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