Friday, January 16, 2009

Nashville Shakespeare Festival's "The Tragedy of Richard the Third" Entertains!

Okay, my last proud dad harangue here! I PROMISE! Basically, if you're reading this within a drive's-reach of Nashville, come see this play! My humble review:

The opening performance of Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of The Tragedy of Richard the Third last night had my family laughing out loud and helped me understand aspects of the play I never "got" before. According to USN dad (and NashShakes founder) Donald Caparella, Denise Hicks' Vaudeville-lensed production allows at least one character who is almost universally cut from the play's performance to stand out in hilarious ways; and the frequently show-bizzy performances contrast just right with the unsettling tragedies of murder, especially those of the two princes, to make the tragedy work right along with the comedy.

Historically, the play's twisted plot is a bit hard to follow, but there's a wonderful device used to help you keep score of the murders. It's amazingly simple and yet a stroke of genius on Denise's part: Headshots on a marquee poster are simply tossed into a wastebasket each time a character meets his or her demise. Vaudeville also serves to make the generally accepted melodramatic aspects of this particular Shakespeare piece more palatable, even necessary!

Never having taken in a show at the Troutt Theatre, I was thoroughly warmed by the cozy room, charmed to no end by Claire Syler's Gracie Allen-ish Lady Ann, enthralled by Navada Shane Morgan's Richard, and immensely proud of my boy Colin's stage presence and grasp of character. Brenda Sparks' campy (Sophie Tucker-inspired--see Comments) Queen Margaret takes over the stage upon entry, belting out a bluesy, ragtimey version of Shakespearean verse I simply could never have imagined possible. Some of the running gags had me just busting a gut. I won't spoil it, but look for the Duke of Hastings' involvement to come to a head surprisingly: Prepare to laugh to tears.

Tickets online at Need a cheat-sheet, for your class or just for yourself? Teacher's Guidebook(.pdf)

Want to take your class? Book your class to attend a school matinee by contacting Claire Syler .

Kudos to everyone connected with this amazing, world-stage worthy production. Go see it. It's a cheap date and it's worth every minute.

Scott and family


Anonymous said...

Mr.Merrick - I too am a parent of a cast member (Nathan Lee) and during last nights' opening I was so impressed by your son's performance that I opened my program afterwards to read more about him. Nice to see he is also a veteran of Nashville Children's Theatre. Great show, hope Nashville turns out to enjoy it. -- Pamela Lee

Scott said...

Nathan does a fantastic job as Rivers! I did notice he focused on my lovely daughter in the audience a couple of times, but I don't hold that against him! :)