2013 – THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

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Photos by David Kinder at www.kinderpics.com.

Cast List 

Kate
Petruchio
Baptista
Bianca
Lucentio
Vincentio
Hortensio
Gremio
Tranio
Grumio
Biondello 
Christopher Sly/Pedant
Curtis et al.
Designer/Servant
Bartholomew
Lord
Hostess/Widow
Maureen Porter*
James Farmer* 
Gary Powell
Foss Curtis
Peter Platt
Ted Schultz
Sam Dinkowitz
David Heath
Grant Turner
Nikolas Hoback
Joel Patrick Durham
Nathan Dunkin
Rusty Tennant
Crystal Munoz
Matt Kerrigan
Brian Hartcourt
Hadley Boyd

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Comments from Director Michael Mendelson 

Michael MendelsonArtistic Director Michael Mendelson will direct the The Taming of the Shrew, which was adapted by Cole Porter for his famous musical, Kiss Me Kate, and is the basis for the film 10 Things I Hate About You.  Michael says:  “I am excited to explore the lengths a person will go to to transform somebody they love into the person they wish them to be.  Do we gain a healthier and more fruitful relationship or do we lose the essence and spark of what ignited our passion and drew us to the person in the first place?  There is no better journey than that of Kate and Petruchio to explore love and marriage in both a traditional sense and one for a modern sensibility.  I can hardly wait to begin the journey. 

Synopsis

The Taming of the Shrew is about a play that is performed as a prank by an English lord on a drunk tinker, named Christopher Sly.  The English lord dresses up Sly as a lord and tells him that a troupe of actors has arrived to put on a play for him. 

The play tells the story of Baptista Miniola, a rich merchant in the Italian town of Padua, his two daughters, Katherine (“Kate”), who is notorious for her temper, and her younger sister, Bianca, and their suitors. 

Lucentio, a student, comes to Padua to attend the local university.  He has two servants, Tranio and Biondello.  Lucentio sees Bianca and instantly falls in love with her.  Bianca has two other suitors who are already courting her: Gremio, an older man, and Hortensio.  Baptista, however, has declared that no one may court Bianca until her older sister, Kate, is married.

Lucentio hears Baptista say that he is on the lookout for tutors for his daughters, so he disguises himself as a Latin tutor, named Cambio. Lucentio’s servant, Tranio, dresses up as Lucentio and, in his disguise as Lucentio, begins to talk to Baptista about the possibility of marrying his daughter. 

Hortensio has a friend, Petruchio, who has come to Padua, with his servant, Grumio, to find a rich wife.  Hortensio tells Petruchio about Kate and her dowry and the battle of wits between Petruchio and Kate begins, which is what the story is all about.  Petruchio tells Baptista that he will marry Kate; the marriage takes place; and Petruchio forces Kate to leave with him for his country house before the wedding feast takes place.

Back in Padua, Hortensio pretends he is a music tutor to woo Bianca, but Lucentio wins her heart.  Hortensio starts looking for a wealthy widow to marry.  Still disguised as Lucentio, Tranio tells Baptista that he has a large sum of money to spend on Bianca.  Baptista says he must have the sum confirmed by Lucentio’s father, Vincentio.  Tranio finds an old teacher to pretend that he is Lucentio’s father; Baptista agrees to the wedding, but Lucentio and Bianca avoid the whole problem by eloping.

Kate and Petruchio travel back to Padua to visit Baptista.  On the way, they meet Lucentio’s real father, Vicentio.  When they all arrive in Padua, Vicentio is shocked to find Tranio masquerading as Lucentio.  Lucentio and Bianca return, and Lucentio straightens everything out.

A banquet takes place following Hortensio’s marriage to his rich widow.  The three husbands, Petruchio, Lucentio and Hortensio make a bet as to which of their wives will obey first when they are summoned.  Everyone expects Lucentio to win, but Kate is the first to appear, leading to the climactic moment of the play.

Reviews

Bob Hicks, in Oregon ArtsWatch, says:

“Just go see it. It’s a rich, funny, self-assured production, tumbling with witticisms high and low, and it whets the appetite for John Fletcher’s rarely performed “response” play, “The Tamer Tamed,” which the Shakespeare Project will open later this month and run in repertory with “Shrew.” (Yet another variation, the Cole Porter/Sam and Bella Spewack musical “Kiss Me Kate,” opens August 3 at Clackamas Rep.) Director Michael Mendelson has fluffed the thing up with period visual touches, reinstated the usually dropped “dream” bookends featuring the drunken tinker Christopher Sly, and goosed the action with a circusload of physical shtick.”

* * * *

“The heart of the play, though, is still the fearsome misfits Kate and Petruchio and their squabble royal for supremacy or equivalence. And Mendelson’s antagonists are pretty scarifying. James Farmer gives Petruchio a feral, calculated psycho edge: he’s a pretty scary guy, with a head harder than limestone. As Kate, the wonderful Maureen Porter moves from fevered wildcat anger to a lovely underlined humor that widens her outlook and frees her from the curse of understanding both too little and too much.”

Full Review:  CLICK HERE

Patrick Brassel, in Broadwayworld.com, says:  

“Farmer and Porter, as Petruchio and Kate, are outstanding. Porter finds modern touches in Kate’s angry speeches in the first half of the play, and she challenges the formidable Farmer in their fight scenes. She makes Kate’s harshness funny, and she even convinces when she gradually melts under Petruchio’s maltreatment and comes to love him.”

* * * *

“What’s great about this production is that it’s flat-out hilarious.”

* * * *

“By the end of the show, the actors from the introduction have been worked into the action of the play, and we get a final wrap-up from the drunk and the hostess. At that point, we’ve had such a great time with these characters, we don’t want them to leave. I just wanted to sit there and watch them dance and party for a while longer. You won’t want to go home either.”

Full Review:  CLICK HERE 

Mitch Lilli, in Willamett Week, says: 

“It’s feminist comedy at its most hilarious.”

* * * *

“The supporting cast steals many moments, but it’s the polished performances and feminist touches of the leads, especially Porter, that give Taming its political depth and make it such a successful production.” 

Full Review:  CLICK HERE

 Dennis Sparks says:
 
“I have seen a number of stage and film productions of this show and even been in one myself.  Overall, this is the best production I’ve seen.”
 
* * * *
“But credit must ultimately be given to the master of this madcap marvel, Mr. Mendelson, the director.  He certainly understands Shakespeare and pulls every nuance out of this script and his actors, wherever it may be hiding.”
 
Full Review:  CLICK HERE
 
Marty Hughley, writing in The Oregonian’s Living Section on Monday, July 15, 2013 (Page B6), under the heading, “Fury, fun, 1960s vibe for Shakespeare’s ‘Shrew,’” says:  
 
“Maureen Porter as Kate bellows and brawls, James Farmer (who resembles a young William Hurt) as Petruchio appears first confident, and then crazed, until gradually they reach an understanding.  
 
“Meanwhile, they’re surrounded by slamming doors and escalating outrageousness in the more light-hearted subplot about the suitors vying for the love of Kate’s conventional, spoiled princess of a little sister.
 
* * * *
“Director Michael Mendelson draws nicely grounded performances from Porter and Farmer as alienated souls who come to find strength through their unlikely alliance.”

Audience Comments

“MUST SEE Taming of the Shrew – Michael Mendelson and his incredible cast have created the most brilliant version of this show I have ever seen. The Bard in 60s Laugh In style with some modern nods thrown in is only the beginning of what makes this show exceptional. The overall vision, acting, timing, set design and costumes make this a thoroughly enjoyable night of theatre – you will love it!”
 
“You don’t usually think of Shakespeare as rollicking good fun, but this production is just that. It’s like Austin Powers time travels to meet up with William Shakespeare and they produce this together.”
 
“Highly inventive and hilariously spirited, Portland Shakespeare Project delivers a delightful Taming of the Shrew that is guaranteed to be well worth your time spent in the theatre! Go see it; you will have a blast!”
 
“We enjoyed this so much, that we are going again. This talented cast makes courtship and marriage a joy. Do not miss this.”

 ”Congratulations to the cast and crew of PSP’s “Taming of the Shrew”. Saw it last nite and was totally entertained and very much delighted. Best wishes for a great run Michael Mendelson, cast and crew.”