“Shrew” a Sight to Behold

With the simple set design of John Barton and Director, Melody Dixon, and the lush medieval costumes of Melissa Barton, audiences at the Crighton Theater are off on a humorous Shakespearean romp that is full of fun in the current production of “The Taming of the Shrew.”

Now mind you, the language of Shakespeare is just as difficult now as it was when you were in high school English class. It requires close attention, especially when spoken “trippingly on the tongue” by talented actors such as we have here. With that in mind, you might want to stop by the Crighton for an 8 P.M. performance on Friday or Saturday nights through July 22nd. (Box Office: 936-441-7469)

If you think the “Battle of the Sexes” is something new, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Joey Lamont as Petruchio and Margeaux Elizabeth Baulch as Kate provide quite a battle of their own! Kate is widely agreed to be a “shrew,” and suitors of her lovely younger sister, Bianca (sweetly played by Kerri Farrell) are anxious for elder sister, Kate, to marry.

In the tradition of the day, it was unseemly for a younger sister to wed until an older sister was married. Thus we are drawn into Shakespeare’s hilarious plot as Bianca’s suitors conspire to have Petruchio marry Kate. Jonathan Massey is gentle and convincing as the suitor, Lucentio.

I fondly recall Mr. Massey’s clever performance two years ago as ventriloquist, Fred McCracken, in Class Act’s production of “Annie.” Dependable Crighton regular, Dennis O’Connor, gives a fine performance as Bianca’s father, Baptista. O’Connor still has the gift of making you laugh with just a look. For more laughs we have Mike Waller in a delightfully camp portrayal of Hortensio. He resembles a Middle Ages version of Stanley Laurel while wearing what looks like an absurdly lopsided, satin chef’s hat. His droll delivery is a highlight of the show.

Tausheli McClure served as Dixon’s assistant director, and there are good supporting performances from Brad Bogus (Tranio), Jimmy Riddle (Grumio), and John Barton (Gremio). Young Adam Sowers brings much good humor to the role of the boy, Biondello. Crighton fans may remember Sower’s fine singing voice and performance in the title role of the theater’s 1998 Christmas production of “The Littlest Shepherd.”

Mr. Lamont showed great skill and impressive articulation in this part’s tirades, soliloquies, and drunkard scenes. He made this impressive debut at Crighton following work as a theater major at both Mississippi State and Arkansas State. He has also been “making the rounds” pursuing acting opportunity in New York City.

After the show, he was asked by audience member, Ruthellen Hinton, about the difficulty of learning the many long passages of complex dialogue. The confident young actor replied: “It’s really not that difficult!” His co-star, Miss Baulch, brought considerable fire to the role of Kate with no shortage of shrieks and sneers. There were moments when I sensed the attractive young actress had been influenced by the raging film performance of Elizabeth Taylor in the same role, but then, there are much worse sins in theater than being compared to Elizabeth Taylor.

A humorous highlight of the production was the opulent banquet scene in which Petruchio tests the loyalty of his bride, Kate, in the presence of the guests. To learn the outcome you must buy a ticket or read the play. I suggest the former. And one more suggestion: During the intermission take a brief stroll down Conroe’s ever-improving Main Street. (The night we visited, the town was hosting an extraordinary display of vintage cars from antique car clubs.) Note the better street lighting, the new brick sidewalks, and the beautiful new polished wood and brass highlights on storefronts. Conroe is coming back strong,and the Crighton Theater is at the heart of it.

(The Courier    7.12.00)

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About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.
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