CLOTAs ’Shrew’ goes west

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The Community Light Opera and Theater Association’s latest production, William Shakespeare’s classic comedy, “The Taming of the Shrew,” is a delightful change of pace from more traditionally presented fare.

Sold-out performances the first weekend make it imperative that prospective “Shrew” goers get their tickets now. Performances are Nov. 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 7:30 p.m. at CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 N. Inyo. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for members, students, seniors and members of the military and are available at Red Rock Books. Call 760-446-2411 for more information.

This production is directed by K. Pearl Woolam, who went with a Wild West twist on the well-known classic play. Check out the set with swinging bar doors, 1890s costumes, pistols and a real “Yee-haa!” approach, complete with banjo music in the background.

“A lot of the funniest bits the cast came up with themselves,” said Woolam. “I love, love, love Shakespeare! I’m so glad it’s playing here because I was told it wouldn’t play in Ridgecrest.”

What? There are those of us here who thirst to see the classics. The actors were all delighted to have the opportunity to play Shakespeare. “Hamlet” was performed by Hungry River last spring, and “Romeo and Juliet” is currently being performed at Burroughs High School. Ridgecrest has an extraordinarily high percentage of smart, well-educated people. Why wouldn’t Shakespeare be welcomed here?

“Taming of the Shrew” was written in 1623, making it now 389 years old. OK, the English language has changed a tad in that time. Those of us who are willing to work at getting into and understanding the now-outdated language enjoy Shakespeare’s work — but what of the rest?

Let me tell you what I saw. I saw a theater full of people laughing at 389-year-old jokes that play just as well today as then. I saw a cast of actors willing to work at keeping those classic lines fresh and relevant. The actors were having one heck of a good time, playing up physical comedy and sight gags to underscore the mood of the lively, ribald play. This is a joyous, energetic production.

That’s right, Ridgecrest does just fine with Shakespeare, thank you very much, and the audience got the jokes and had a grand time.

Methinks some critics do protest too much. Where will some of our modern plays be in 389 years? Shakespeare’s work endures because it is so universal. I think that, if some of our readers aren’t familiar with Shakespeare or have not read any for a very long time, this particular production is an excellent, easily accessible place to begin.

I was particularly enchanted with Kathryn Adams’ portrayal of the elderly Gremio, one of Bianca’s suitors. That girl has spunk. Anne Schreckengost’s Tranio was hilarious, and I loved the bit with the fake moustaches.

Cat Kuznir made a fiery Katherine, and Jon Lewis’s Petruchio was disarming as a lean, rather filthy drifter. It was easy to imagine he had just blown in off the desert, with his horse tethered somewhere just off stage.

Brandon McGinnis played the love-struck Lucentio in a soap-opera way that fit the production perfectly. Korinza Shlanta’s Bianca was sugar-sweet and demure — most of the time — which was just right.

The children in the cast, Sammy Johnson, Alicia Wilson and Johnathan Wilson, were adorable, as they played their bit parts and brought benches in and out.

Fine performances were turned in by Nathaniel Clair, Becki Cornett, Brian Cosner, Thomas Cozine, Nicole Johnson, Chris Matthews, Greg Shlanta and Margie Steiner. All of these actors have a keen sense of humor and a willingness to dive into Shakespeare’s lines. Another round of applause for one and all!

Because of adult content, CLOTA does not recommend the show for young children.

Story First Published: 2012-11-07