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Henley Street Theatre The Taming of the Shrew

By • Nov 19th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
The Taming of the Shrew
Henley Street Theatre: (Info) (Web)
The Steward School, Richmond, VA
Closed November 16th
2:30 with intermission
$15-30 ($10 Children on some performances)
Reviewed November 7th, 2013

A shrew: A bad-tempered or aggressively assertive woman. This is exactly what Liz Blake White (Kate) is in Henley Street Theatre and Richmond Shakespeare’s production of The Taming of the Shrew.

I saw Henley Street and Richmond Shakespeare’s production of The Taming of the Shrew on its opening night. Finding myself at a Shakespeare play, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I hadn’t ever seen a Shakespeare play, but at 14 years old, there is no time like the present to see a play by the Bard! I thought I would be walking into a classic mushy love play like Romeo and Juliet, which didn’t excite me. However, I kept an open mind.

Being an actor, I like to engross myself in theater any way I can. I ushered this production with my mom. Hey, I have to have a ride there, but she is a cool mom. ;-) Ushers have to get to the theater about 45 minutes before the house opens to learn the layout and make sure everyone is seated before the show begins. When I stepped into the theater, I saw what seemed to be a 1930′s movie set. Instantly, I thought of my favorite movie theater, The Byrd.

I’m not supposed to give any spoilers, but I’ll give a basic layout. It’s the 1930′s and the cast is about to film a movie version of The Taming of the Shrew. They will be filming it as a ‘modern’ adaptation with the classic language. The problem, they only have two hours to film it.

Directed by Jan Powell, the 1930′s feel is definitely unique, but was a bit distracting. The actors are always on stage because they are on a movie set. They interact with each other and watch the movie while it is being filmed. At times, this can draw your attention away from the Shrew scenes being filmed. To those not as familiar with the story or language of Shakespearean times, it can be confusing. However, I also found myself wanting to see and know the actors in the wings; a challenge in live theater. You cannot rewind if you miss something!

The actors are stereotypical of the time – camera happy, a flighty blonde, a know-it-all, and campy over-the-top funny. Liz Blake White (Kate) is phenomenal in creating a love/hate relationship between the audience and her character. Matt Hackman (Petruchio) also is great; I found myself really wanting him to succeed with Kate. The actor who really steals the show though is John Mincks (Lucentio)! He is full of energy that is contagious to the audience, a talented singer, and just marvelous all around.

To propel the story along and place the audience emotionally into the next scenes being filmed, the actors take turns singing classic songs from the 1930′s, such as Stormy Weather. This is both a valuable and brilliant way to help move the complex story along.

Set design, by Joshua Bennett, makes the stage look and feel like a 1930s movie set in full detail. Light design, by Michael Jarrett, conveys the differences between cameras rolling and not rolling beautifully, making the stage regularly lit while rolling and red or purple between scenes. Costume design, by Virginia McConnell, makes you believe you are in the 1930′s.

Whether you like Shakespeare or not, this is a great play and a great way to spend an evening out…even if you are with your mom!

Photo Gallery

John Mincks as Lucentio, McLean Jesse as Bianca and Jeffrey Cole as Hortensio Liz Blake White as Kate and Matt Hackman as Petruchio
John Mincks as Lucentio, McLean Jesse as Bianca and Jeffrey Cole as Hortensio
Liz Blake White as Kate and Matt Hackman as Petruchio
McLean Jesse as Bianca, John Mincks as Lucentio and Liz Blake White as Kate
McLean Jesse as Bianca, John Mincks as Lucentio and Liz Blake White as Kate

Photos by Vinnie Gonzalez

The Cast

  • Petruchio: Matt Hackman
  • Kate: Liz Blake White
  • Bianca: McLean Jesse
  • Lucentio: John Mincks
  • Gremio: Kevin Grantz
  • Grumio: Stacie Rearden Hall
  • Tranio: Patrick Long
  • Hortensio: Jeffrey Cole
  • Baptista: Mark Persinger
  • Director, Groucho, Tailor, Widow: Wendy Carter
  • Cameraman, Vincentio, Biondello: Zach Campion
  • Grip, Haberdasher, Pedant: Mercedes Valacer
  • Maid, Harpo: Danielle Thompson
  • Maid, Chico: Alessandra Hernandez

Production Team

  • Director: Jan Powell
  • Production Manager: Corrie Barton
  • Stage Manager: Jacquelyn Craig
  • Set Design: Joshua Bennett
  • Costume Design: Ginni McConnell
  • Lighting Design: Michael Jarett
  • Sound Design: Dave Maier
  • Properties: Paige Skidmore
  • Technical Director: Dennis Kennedy
  • Choreography: Paul Dandridge

Disclaimer: The author ushered for this production, and was given a ticket for volunteering.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/9808.

has performed in local productions, but prefers to be behind the scenes. Mike earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Online News Association.

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