Usually I go see the New York Classical Theater productions in the latter part of the summer at Battery Park. This time rtb reminded us of their early summer productions in Central Park. So I took the subway up to 103rd Street to see a panoramic theater production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Just like Battery Park, the audience follows the actors around the park. The difference in Central Park is that it’s bigger but also much noisier – there are families picnicking and playing games around you and the street noises are louder. And it’s a much more open space so there’s nothing for the actors’ voices to bounce off. However, one of the great trade-offs is Central Park itself. The play within the play began in a small field near a pond. The pond and hanging trees in the background looked like a gorgeous Hollywood backdrop.
The first move to a new scene was the most fun because the audience totally surrounded a large blanket with nine adults and five children. The adults looked on in wonder as we all sat around them and one of the children clutched her father in fear. One small boy was delighted and laughed and laughed at Petruchio and Katherina verbally and physically battling.
As for the actors I thought that Sid Solomon (Tranio) was very strong. I found Maxon Davis (Petruchio) to be a bit of an over-actor but maybe that’s just the role. The only version I’m familiar with is Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate. Everyone else was very good and believable in their roles. I also enjoyed when Danny Randerson (Christopher Sly) and Andrew Sellon (Gremio) interacted with the audience as we were moving from one place to another. I liked the way they handled the secret elopement of Lucentio and Bianca – as we were walking to the new location we passed the couple standing in front of the priest so each of us only heard part of the ceremony.
The other actors were Ito Aghayere (Katherina), Paul Hurley (Lucentio), John Little (Lord/Vincentio), Beethoven Oden (Hortensio), Nick Salamon (Baptista), Claire Saunders (Bianca), Jordon Skinner (Boy/Biondello/Priest/Widow), and Scott Watson (Grumio). Director Sean Hagerty got some wonderful performances from all the actors, who were making their New York Classical Theatre debuts. There is no costume designer listed (there are several names listed who could have designed the costumes) but whoever did Katherina’s bridal dress slowly turning to rags did a great job.
By Carene Lydia Lopez