Sinclair prepares Shakespeare’s ‘Shrew’

Classic battle of the sexes takes shape

The hilarious tug-of-war between fiercely feisty Katherina (Kate) of Padua and the determined, adventurous Petruchio of Verona returns as Sinclair Community College prepares its season opening production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy “The Taming of the Shrew,” which will be traditionally set in the Elizabethan era under the direction of Nelson Sheeley.

The play’s central, dynamic power struggle, evolving while Kate’s more attractive sister Bianca is wooed by multiple suitors, will be embodied by theater performance major Hayley Penchoff, a Muse Machine alumna and 2012 graduate of Oakwood High School, and theater performance/theater technology major Isaac Hollister, whose previous credits include “Almost, Maine,” “The Crucible” and “The Foreigner.” Hollister admits the physicality of his role has been a challenge but has high praise for his co-star whom he says has been a trouper in establishing chemistry.

“Hayley has been a great sport throughout the rehearsal process,” he said. “She is willing to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t work for us. It is a give and take of control between us to ensure that neither of us is hurt in the process. ‘Shrew’ is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays because it showcases the equality of men and women in a relationship. I feel sometimes the play is misunderstood to be misogynistic. It shows what really makes a lasting relationship.”

Hollister and Penchoff are tackling Shakespeare for the first time, which can be daunting due to the intricacies of language and rhythm. Even so, they remain mindful of their characterizations while attempting to master the text.

“I am hoping to convey Petruchio’s thirst for adventure as well as his brash and consummate confidence,” Hollister said. “The trick to Petruchio, I think, is that he is not arrogant in any way. I see him as playful (in his) passion for life. People amuse him, but he is respectful.”

“Kate’s spirit and attitude is very interesting and fun to act out,” Penchoff added. “I hope I can bring a new depth to her. Nelson has helped a lot in translating Shakespearean language into spoken lines (to) find the hidden depth in her character.”

“I think ‘Shrew’ is a good fit for college actors since most of the characters are the right age for the (students) to play,” said Sheeley, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama who previously staged Sinclair’s productions of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Taking Steps” and “Triumph of Love.” “The themes and characters are universal, it’s easily accessible to audiences, and it’s plenty raunchy. I do warn people this is a play about the ‘battle of the sexes’ with an emphasis on ‘sex.’ We haven’t added anything to this play that’s not there, but Shakespeare and his lot were a lusty bunch, so just be prepared. I’m hoping people will simply enjoy this play for what it is – a good, rollicking sex farce!”

The cast includes Aeriel Aniballi, Will Courson, Samantha Creech, John Dunn, Brandon Hayes, Jordan Huber, Destre Inlow, Charles Larkowski, Rick McClintic, Becca Sebree, Alayna Spence, John Ray and Josh Smith. In addition, four musicians will perform tunes reminiscent of the Elizabethan era. Terry Stump’s scenic design is based on Shakespeare’s renowned Globe Theatre.

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