The summer show at Shakespeare on the Mount is Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". It is a contemporary look at the battle-of the sexes where Petruchio takes on the task of marrying the outspoken Kate and "taming'' her, so that her younger sister, Bianca, can finally marry. The main plot of the show depicts the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments, the "taming", until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's more desirable sister, Bianca. Director Jason LeClair chooses the best 15 people for these roles and infuses the show with the energy needed to pull it off.
Jason's transforms the theatre into a town with his excellent two story set that depicts Baptista's house and the various houses and settings throughout the town while costumes are wonderful, too. Some of his comic bits includes spit takes and prat falls. Ethan Blank as the lead, Petruchio, is mesmerizing from start to finish. His authoritative speaking voice and awesome delivery of his lines are terrific to behold. Most of his charm comes from the confident characterization of Petruchio. It seems like a difficult task to make him a likeable character since he has misogynistic traits, but Ethan exudes wonderful comic timing and charisma. He also doubles as the drunken Sly and convinces you that he is a drunken sot with ease. He will be a freshman at Syracuse University this fall. Aurora Lefebvre shines as Kate. She unquestionably makes her into a strong character who is constantly bossing the other characters around until she is tamed. Aurora shows her unruliness and wild nature from the start of the show to her final monologue where she admits he submission to Petruchio. Their chemistry is terrific, with his swaggering self assured husband who breaks through the barrier of words Kate puts up between herself and marriage.
Lucentio and Bianca are played beautifully by David O'Connell and Jacquelynn Garcia. They both play up the zaniness needed for these roles. He disguises himself as a language teacher to get close to her to woo her. David is very charming in this role. Jacquelynn captures the duality of the role by being nice and crafty, too. Bianca's other two suitors are played by Raymond Fournier and Chris Pelletier. Raymond as Gremio, an older neighbor lusting after her while Chris as Hortensio ends up marrying a widow but woos Bianca first by disguising himself as a music teacher. The parental figure in the show is played by Stephanie Couturier. She makes Baptista, the long suffering mother of Kate and Bianca become joyful when she sees the transformation of her willful daughter after years of her bad behavior. The two biggest scene stealers in the show are the men's servants, Grumio played by Tiffany Venmahavong and Tranio played by Evan Crocker. Tiffany gets to do many pratfalls and clever shtick during the show. Evan transforms himself from servant to master with ease. His line delivery and comic timing are superb and his wild antics lead to much laughter. Both of these performers do a great job as Shakespeare's clowns. Evan is going to be a freshman at Dean College this fall. Another clown in the show Biondello is played wonderfully by Matt Newton. His facial expressions and wide eyed looks of astonishment are reminiscent of Buster Keaton. The other parental figure in the show Lucentio's mother, Vincentia is well played by Julie Cox. She does a slow burn when she is confronted with the fake Vincentia. The show brings back many memories for me having played the role of Vincentio, the tailor and servant for TRIST back in 1990. The whole cast does a marvelous job in this show. So for a slapstick romp that will have you rolling in the aisles, be sure to catch "The Taming of the Shrew". You'll be astonished at the talent of all these young performers.