Prometheus or Petruchio?
In Prometheus, a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Petruchio discovers a clue to the origins of what makes an untameable woman tick, leading him on a journey into the darkest depths of her mind. There, he must fight a terrifying battle to tame her.
OK, so the battle isn’t terrifying, and Petruchio’s journey isn’t really so dark. But viewers may find themselves this summer having to make a choice between his journey in Swine Palace’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and film director Ridley Scott’s thriller Prometheus.
“But why choose?” George Judy asked. “Our cost is almost the same as a movie ticket. You can see them both.”
He was joined by actors Jenny Ballard and Anthony McMurray on this particular day. They’re playing the leads in this family-friendly version of Shakespeare’s tale, and Judy is directing it.
The show opens Tuesday, June 26.
And Judy’s right. The ticket price for this production is $10, so audiences can afford to be theatergoers on one day and moviegoers on the next.
Of course, they don’t necessarily have to choose Prometheus. There are plenty of choices to be had at the multiplex.
But there’s only one choice at the Studio Theatre in the LSU Music and Dramatic Arts Building, and unlike the movie theater, the cast offers a unique performance at each showing.
That’s how live theater works. The story and lines may be the same, but no two live performances are ever exactly the same. Especially these performances, which will take a modern setting backed by hip-hop music.
“We’ve shortened the play, and we’ve added things that will appeal to all ages,” Judy said. “That’s why we’re calling it the family-friendly version. Audience members of all ages will be able to walk away with an appreciation of Shakespeare’s story.”
And what story does Shakespeare tell here? Well, calling it a battle of the sexes would be too easy.
“It’s like watching two boxers fight,” McMurray said. “Well, it’s not really a boxing match, but think about it. When Mike Tyson was at the top, he was beating everybody. But then a fighter who was just as good as him came along, and he had to rise to the occasion. It was a challenge.”
“Right,” Ballard added. “Kate has been waiting for that challenge, and Petruchio gives it to her.”
McMurray plays Petruchio and Ballard is Katharina in Shakespeare’s comedy, which tells the story of these characters’ courtship. Katharina initially is an unwilling participant in the relationship, so Petruchio uses psychological methods to tame her into a compliant and obedient wife.
The story has been modernized plenty of times through the years. Cole Porter did it in his musical Kiss Me Kate, and the story again was updated in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You.
“I think Kate welcomes this fight,” Ballard said. “She’s been waiting for someone who can match her.”
The Taming of the Shrew is the first production in Swine Palace’s inaugural three-play summer festival. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged will follow beginning July 17, and the festival will wrap up with Swine Palace’s musical collaboration with Playmakers of Baton Rouge on July 31 with How Can You Run With a Shell on Your Back.
“We’re hoping that this will be the first of an annual summer festival,” Judy said. “We’re restructuring our MFA program so our students can stay during the summer and earn their degrees in two years.”
And act in the summer festival along the way.
“We’ve had a great time with this play,” Ballard said.
She’s acted and directed this play, but this production marks her first time to play the lead.
“After directing it in 2006, I think I’m coming to this production with a better understanding of the story and an understanding of Kate,” Ballard said. “When I was directing it, I was so jealous of the actress playing Kate because I wanted to be up there, exploring all of the complexities that make up her character.”
Well, now’s her chance to make that exploration, one that won’t lead her on a journey to discover the origins of mankind but into the depths of a relationship.
With a lot of laughs along the way.
- CAST: Jenny Ballard, Katharina; Anthony McMurray, Petruchio; Kristina Sutton Udy, Bianca; Nic Hamel, Baptista; Donald Watkins, Lucentio; Jason Bayle, Hortensio; Josh Allred, Tranio; Ben Koucherik, Grumio; Shea Stephens, Vincentio/ensemble; Sarah Patin, Biondello/ensemble; Victoria Carbajal, Sugarsop/Bianca understudy; Ross Childs, Curtis/ensemble/musician; Elizabeth Cowan, widow/tailor/ensemble; Seth DiSalvo, officer/ensemble/Nathaniel; Michael Gruden, Pedant/ensemble; Sofia Hurtado, officer/ensemble/Walter/Katharina understudy; Laurel McGehee, servant.
- DIRECTOR: George Judy.