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Theatre Review: The Taming of the Shrew

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

If Frank Sinatra had ever attempted Shakespeare, he might have done it the way Main Street Theater Works presents this show, as a hybrid of Old World manners and New World panache.

The action in "Shrew" is initiated by Petruchio, a fortune-seeker who boasts he'll wed any woman, provided she's rich. And when Petruchio strolls on stage in this Italian-American production, he's wearing a 1950's fedora, puffing a cigar.

The object of Petruchio's marry-into-money gambit is Kate, a hot-headed woman who rails against her father, a gravelly-voiced old don.

Baptista: "You may stay; For I have more to commune with Bianca."

Katharina: "Why, and I trust I may go too, may I not? What, shall I be appointed hours; as though, belike, I knew not what to take and what to leave, ha?"

Kate's fiery tirades are a big part of this show's appeal, and veteran actress Julie Anchor delivers them like a spitfire.

But actor Allen Pontes - as  Petruchio -- takes the other road. Listen to his cool, controlled manner as he dismisses the tailor preparing Kate's wedding dress.

Petruchio: "Away, thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant; Or I shall so be-mete thee with thy yard. As thou shalt think on prating whilst thou livest! I tell thee, I, that thou hast marr'd her gown."

Elaborately-delivered insults like that are hallmarks of Shakespearean comedy. And they're adapted skillfully here in an American style.

Another appealing aspect of this show is the terraced, oak-shaded amphitheatre where performances take place - the evening air always brings out something extra from the community actors who handle the supporting roles. Take Marty Brifman.  He's a deeply tanned, silver-haired chicken farmer who portrays a courtly old don, trying to marry off an unruly daughter.

Baptista: "Why, how now daughter Katherine, in your dumps?"

Kate: "Unhhh!"

This light-hearted show is a tasty blend of gender-driven humor composed by Shakespeare mixed with modern American personalities straight out of "The Godfather."

The Main Street Theatre Works' production of The Taming of the Shrew continues at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre in Jackson through July 21st.  

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