|Theater group brings bard to BG city park||| Print ||
|Written by By DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor|
|Tuesday, 02 June 2009 10:02|
With their plastic swords, the members of the Beautiful Kids Independent Shakespeare Company are just another group of youngsters playing in the park.
Even in a rehearsal days before opening, Halfhill gives the speech his raucous all, rallying the troops before they storm down the center aisle of the park theater.
"This is certainly one of the biggest roles I've put myself into," said Halfhill, who grew up in Bradner and studied theater at Bowling Green State University.
The Beautiful Kids shows and the informal Shakespeare staged by the theater fraternity Theta Alpha Phi, offer young actors a taste of great roles.
Halfhill said he's even had a chance to play Othello, Shakespeare great tragic Moorish general. "People can do things they wouldn't normally do," he said. With Beautiful Kids that means women taking on male roles.
Sadie Martin has no problem with the macho bluster of the Constable of France, who leads the French troops. Heather Utsler doesn't seem out of place as the frail yet still boastful Dauphin, the French prince. Her speech full of outrageous praise for the Dauphin's horse is hilarious.
The play, said director Travis Cook, has a scarcity of female roles, and one Katherine, the princess of France, which "didn't really serve my vision of the play" was excised along with some of the plays' more blatant "Tudor propaganda" which was intended to boost the image of the then ruling royal family.
Beautiful Kids always has more women audition for the plays then men, Cook said. Still he eliminated all but one female role to create a more "gender neutral environment within the show, where it was not about men and women, and more about the cast presenting this point in the life of Henry V."
Yes, he conceded, this can be "at first a bit confusing to a traditional audience" but "it does become part of the fun for the audience to accept that parts such as the Duke of Exeter (Carrie Williams) and the Dauphin are played by women and judge the cast members on their own merits."
That the sets and props are scarce is in keeping with the pared down nature of the Shakespearean stage. The scenery is in the poetry.
The Beautiful Kids don only the sparest of costumes. This year the cast will all wear marching T-shirts, and over those wear articles of clothing to denote who is royalty and who is a commoner.
The Shakespeare in the park, Cook said, represents the best of community theater. "It's about putting on a good show and about building relationships with other cast members."
That means tossing the football before rehearsals or going en masse to the late night screening of "Up."
As a director Cook enjoys the camaraderie of the summer shows compared to those staged on campus during the school year.
"It's a lot more loose," he said. "There's a lot more fun that goes into the process. Everyone's here because they want to be here. As a performer I like working with people who like what they're doing."
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