Review: “The Taming of the Shrew” blows audience away

By Ashley Mott,
Arts and Entertainment Editor

From even before the start of the show, the folks of the Hanna Theatre had the audience feeling welcomed, full of laughter and smiles that stretched from ear to ear. The stage was set, ques were ready and the audience hushed as the house lights dimmed and “The Taming of the Shrew” began for opening night.

The show that inspired so many modern remakes impressed people in the audience as its lovable and laughable characters took to the stage. Jessika D. Williams, in her debut season with the Great Lakes Theater, portrayed Katherine, the older sister in the story who was quick-witted, strong, independent and fully capable of kicking some arse when needed.

The actress has previously taken on over 30 other roles in her acting career, and her experience was shown as she made the audience laugh and relate with her when she fought against the idea of being married off to some random man.

However, she wasn’t the only one who made the audience laugh themselves to tears. The switcheroo that was done by Lucentio, played by actor Taha Mandviwala, also in his debut season with Great Lakes Theatre, and Tranio, played by actress Maggie Kettering, who has four seasons with Great Lakes Theatre under her belt, was one for the books. It almost makes you wonder if all the directors of those twin-switching movies had taken a page out of William Shakespeare’s book.

While clearly not twins, their prince and the pauper move made for quite the interesting story. With twists and turns like never before, this classic tale had everyone entertained for its entirety. I, for one, know that I was wishing there wasn’t an intermission. The break hit, and while I was relieved to stretch my legs, I didn’t want the story to end.

However, the break was quick, and the cast captured the attention of the audience once again with a flashy entrance into the second half of the show, complete with flashing lights, booming music and a quick segway into the next step of the adventure.

With a story on the horizon, meant to be told by character Grumio played by Joe Wegner in his debut season with Great Lakes Theatre, the audience was on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what was coming.

However, to make things interesting, Wegner traipsed through the aisle ways, sat on people’s laps and even took a lady’s drink on stage. His interactions with the audience were incredible, making the show more interactive than anyone could have ever imagined.

Breaking the fourth wall, when interrupted in part of the scene by another cast member, Wegner kept it interesting by yelling, “Do you want to tell the story? I can’t work like this!” Storming off to the back he continued by shouting  “Bartender! Get me one of whatever the lady onstage is having! …. 10 Crowns! That’s ridiculous!”

However, he kept the play going and easily slipped directly back into character and kept going. Whether that was scripted or not, we may never know, however, it made the play that much more interesting.

Over even more twists and turns, the anticipation to the end kept building up. With sassy remarks thrown from the left and right, the cast had fun with their roles, and it showed with every minute of the play. The amazing performance ended with the biggest hustle I’ve seen on a stage.

For all you future hustlers out there, you may just want to take a trip to the theatre to see how you could improve. That being said, there is more value to the show than just learning a good trick.

It was one that family, friends and significant others could all enjoy together, or alone if you fancy a trip downtown by yourself.

With the enjoyable atmosphere and the fantastic cast, I think we can safely say that this is one for the books!

10/10

Originally Published on The Cauldron.

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