The “Shrew” Becomes The “Tamer” at OpenStage Outdoors

Shrew-OSShakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” is Rollicking Tale

Reviewed by Tom Jones
June 11, 2016

Baptista is a wealthy gentleman of Padua whose younger daughter, Bianca, has many suitors. Unfortunately for the wooing young men, Baptista will not promise her to anyone until her older sister, Katherine is wed. Problem. Katherine, known as “Kate” is a semi-monster whose miserable temperament is well known throughout Italy. It is going to be a hard sell to wed her before allowing Bianca to follow suit.

James Burns as Petruchio and Andrew Cole as Grumio in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography
James Burns as Petruchio and Andrew Cole as Grumio in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography

Shannon Nicole Light is calmly demure as Bianca, toying with the affections of three suitors while Kate rages in the background. And rage she does! Sydney Parks Smith is terrific as the rebellious Kate; and when Petruchio comes from Verona to woo her, they unleash an amazing stage battle where it is questionable who will win. James Burns is equally excellent as Petruchio, the gentleman of Verona. He has a slight physical advantage to the raging Kate, and appears to be having the time of his life bringing her under some sort of control.

James Burns as Petruchio and Sydney Parks Smith as Katharina in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography
James Burns as Petruchio and Sydney Parks Smith as Katharina in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography

In fact, everyone in the show appears to be thoroughly enjoying himself/herself. Denise Burson Freestone has directed this out-of-doors production in the park. The plays works well in the natural surroundings. And the evening we saw it, the possibility of rain or wind turned into a very calm evening with an amazing sunset. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. and is slightly more than 90 minutes in length. The sun has gone down enough for stage lighting to be used near the end of the evening. The audience is spread on blankets or in camp chairs they brought – eating their earlier-prepared picnics, or snacks from nearby food trucks. The sound was not as clear as in past shows.

Sydney Parks Smith as Katharina and James Burns as Petruchio in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography
Sydney Parks Smith as Katharina and James Burns as Petruchio in OpenStage Theatre’s production of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Photography by Joe Hovorka Photography

Shakespeare wrote this Italian romp more than 400 years ago, and it has become one of his most popular works. It has appeared as a stage play, movie, ballet, and as a Broadway show – Cole Porter’s famous “Kiss Me, Kate.” The costumes are excellent, the set is very functional, and the cast provides high energy as they come to grips with Shakespeare’s clever writing.

Standouts, in addition to Sydney Parks Smith, James Burns, and Shannon Nicole Light, include Steve Right as Baptista, Kiernan Angley, as Tranio, Benjamin Means, as Lucentio, and Bruce K. Freestone in a couple of roles.

There is a lot going on in 90 minutes, with mistaken identities, plot twists, and the ever-wonderful dynamics between Kate and Petruchio. In the end, it isn’t quite clear if Kate has been “tamed,” are has just allowed Petruchio to believe he is in command.

“The Taming of the Shrew”
Where: OpenStage Theatre production, outside in the Park at Columbine Health Systems. Corner of
Centre Avenue and Worthington Circle in Fort Collins.
When: Through July 2, 2016
Tickets: 970/221-6730
Online: www.ltix.com

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