The nails come out and the dukes are up in the battle of the sexes in Sequim High School’s latest All-School Play “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Christie Honore and Danny Willis take the leads as the feuding couple Katherine and Petruchio in Shakespeare’s classic, unconventional love story.
For those who may have missed the plot, Baptista (Courtney Robertson), a widow, has two daughters, Katherine and Bianca (Alexandria Seay), who has suitors (played by Zachary Campbell, Dylan DePrati, Sam Manders). However, Katherine’s stubborn nature leaves her at a distance from holy matrimony. In their impatience, the suitors convince Willis’ Petruchio to domesticate Katherine so Bianca can wed.
Comedy ensues as the couple feuds and learns to love each other.
This is the first time the high school has performed the play since 1981 when director Robin Hall played Katherine.
Despite controversy about misogynist perception of the plot, Hall said the play shows Katherine and Petruchio both have faults.
“Katherine is ill-mannered and I think we play it as a confidence problem. Petruchio’s problem is he likes money. That’s why he decided to wed her and not because he was in love but wanted money,” Hall said.
Actors find the classic more farcical than misogynistic.
Honore said she sees it as less of a taming and more a maturing for Katherine’s journey into becoming a better person.
“That’s just on the surface,” she said. “It goes deeper. It’s much more than a husband trying to control his wife. She’s learning to respond in a more adult fashion and not have those temper tantrums like a 2-year-old.”
In their version, Hall said she thinks they resolve things differently putting the couple on equal terms.
“They end up filling up those weak parts for each other,” Hall said.
“There’s something that we do that (Katherine) shows she still has her spirit. I didn’t like the ending in some versions where she’s totally submissive of him. This shows she hasn’t lost all of that.”
Play on the range
Approaching Katherine as a character, Honore said she’s initially tough to portray.
“I’m very laid back and not vicious, but it’s fun because it’s so different from my personality,” she said.
“When she is a shrew, I’m freer with my voice and actions. As she matures, it becomes more refined.”
Looking at Katherine as a character, Honore said she thinks Shakespeare wanted to depict a strong female in the lead.
“She has a range of emotions and has a lot of issues she hasn’t figured out,” she said.
“Through Petruchio, she better learns to express herself and gains a better understanding of how she doesn’t have to be so shrewish.”
Hall said Katherine’s strong personality is a good trait in Petruchio’s eyes.
“He does have a different way of taming her but she lets herself be tamed,” she said.
Willis said “Shrew” isn’t an average love story and more of a comparison between the different couples.
“If we’re able to convince the audience that Katherine and Petruchio could fall in love then I don’t think it’s misogynist,” Willis said.
Along with the principal actors, Hall said there are some nice surprises from other actors in “Shrew.”
“We have some good actors with Hortensio (Dylan DePrati) and Gremio (Sam Manders). The chemistry between them is great,” she said. “If they were the only ones on stage, they’d be worth the tickets alone.”
Zachary Campbell, who plays Lucentio, said Deprati and Manders don’t play particularly funny roles but they make them funny.
Other cast members include Jacob Fink, Hunter Caufmann, Nick Fazio, Victoria Hall, Kaylee Ditlefsen, Colleen Carpenter, Daniel Newell, Seth Mitchell, Jared Kneidl, Alex Law, David Burgher, Emily Funston, Sarah Isenberger, Victoria Cary, Betsy Merrikin, Niki McElhose, Selesha McKibbon, Alison Powell, Hannah Patterson, Yushin Jung, Mykaela Hatton, Erica Chapman, Genevieve King, Summer Day and Allison Cobb.
Going into this season, Hall said the support continues to be big from the community.
“Last year, it almost brought a tear to see support from the community,” she said. “People always come for the operetta (“Footloose” last spring), but they came for the fall play “Up the Down Staircase” and the senior play “Almost, Maine.”
With “Shrew,” she said her goal was to emphasize Shakespeare’s work and how clever he is as a writer.
“Since we don’t have a theater program, we concentrate on the acting with the kids,” she said. “I wanted them to learn the acting skills and incorporate that into the play. Rather than just memorizing lines, we talk about character development, stage presence and more. They’ve learned an appreciation for him.”
Following the All School Play, the only announced play so far is the operetta “The Sound of Music” in the spring.