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Shakespeare in the Park expects double the fun with twin fueled Comedy of Errors

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Shakespeare in the Park are having fun playing with the comedy “A Comedy of Errors,” which opens at Galt Gardens, at 7 p.m., June 29 and runs most Thursdays and Friday nights until Aug. 11.Antipholus of Syracuse (Austin Halarewich) and Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) strike a gunfighter pose for A Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Amery

Director Ron Chambers is excited to trot on stage a western version of Shakespeare’s comedy, with plenty of slapstick  comedy, misunderstandings and hopefully few errors.


“ I think it‘s going pretty well. It’s two weeks before we open. It looks pretty solid. We‘re ironing out  some details and the guys are busy youtubing Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges,” said Chambers, who is excited to not only work with a diverse cast including university students, recent graduates, community members and a handful of high school students, but is excited to work outside in Galt Gardens.


“I did a play outside several years ago, so getting to work outside again was one of the reasons I wanted to do this play,” he said.


 Chambers and Shakespeare in the Park producer Kate Connolly not only shortened to play to a tight  production just over an hour long, but turned it into a western and tweaked some of the characters turning the Abbess into “Crazy Kate,”the Courtesan into Miss Kitty,  the Duke into the Sheriff and Dr. Pinch, the doctor, into a firebrand preacher. They also turned Ephesus into Heifersus— a rural river cowboy town.


“I did a lot of research into the nineteenth century and incorporated a few phrases. Kate shortened the play and took out a lot of the thees and thous to make it more accessible. It‘s a lot of fun,” Chambers said.


“If you are a Shakespeare scholar or researcher you will probably come away from it disappointed. But if you come to it wanting to have fun, you will have a blast,” he said.


“ I always feel a little guilty about changing Shakespeare, but I don’t think he would have minded. He loved language. he wrote plays to please audiences and to make money, which is what we’re trying to do,” he said, noting Shakespeare was inspired to write A Comedy of Errors by  The Menaechmi written by ancient Roman dramatist Plautus.


“He (Shakespeare)  added an extra pair of twins,” he continued.


“ The play is about two sets of twins who get separated at birth in a shipwreck. (Each twin has a servant twin). One set  of twins come to a strange town and nobody knows who they are so they are mistaken for each other, which creates a lot of  comedy and a lot of errors,” Chambers said.


“It is an hour and 10 minutes. So it is short and sweet and funny. You’ll even have time to go shopping afterwards,” Chambers chuckled.

Cole Fetting has been in quite a few plays over the past year including a  couple in the One Act Play Festival, the LMT fundraiser Jesus Christ Superstar, Undertow Theatre’s “Proud” and last years Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet.

 


“ I start university in SeptemAntipholus of Heifersus (Dan Perryman,) Dromio of Heifersus (Cole Fetting) Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) and Maud (Jolayne Arnoldussen) rehearse a scene from Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Ameryber and I really wanted to work with Ron as a director,” said Fetting, who plays Dromio of Heifersus, the servant twin of Antipholus of Heifersus, whose lives get complicated when their long lost twin brothers Antipholus and Dromio come into  the city from rival town Syracuse and are immediately mistaken for their counterparts.

Adriana (Ali Price) mistakes Dromio of Syracuse for his twin brother in A Comedy of Errors. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a challenge. It’s one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays. It isn’t often done,“ Fetting said.
“Story is always key for me . And when I picked up this script, I couldn’t put it down,” he said.
He is enjoying his character.
“ Dromio is  the servant of Antipholus of Heifersus — the long suffering servant. he is always trying to do the right thing but is always getting punished for doing it,” he described.


“ This is a really fun show that should be done more often,” Fetting continued.


Jordan Payne, who plays Dromio of Syracuse, is excited to make his debut with Shakespeare in the Park.


“ I’ve always wanted to do it, but the stars have never aligned. But as soon as I heard Ron was doing A Comedy of Errors, I had to be involved,” said Payne, a fourth year University of L Lethbridge student working on his BFA in performance.
“ Dromio is Antipholus of Syracuse’s servant, but he  definitely sees himself on the same level as his master. He doesn’t see him as his better and he sees himself as smarter than  his master he goes through an identity crisis of sorts when he comes to Heifersus and gets mistaken for his twin,” he said, adding he is looking forward to bringing the show to the stage.


“ I’ve enjoyed meeting all the other cast members. We need an audience for this show. We’ve been working on it for three months now,” Payne said.

Ali Price(Adriana) rehearses A Comedy of errors in Galt Gardens. Photo by Richard Amery
Madeline Smith is also excited to make her debut with Shakespeare in the Park as Crazy Kate.
“She’s the Abbess in the original,” Smith observed.


“She’s lost her family and is reeling from it. The townspeople won’t help her and she has no support. It’s a comedy, so we’re staying on the surface, but if we were to really delve into her backstory, it would be a tragic. But I love playing her, ” enthused smith , who just finished the second year of her BFA in performance at the U of L.
“It‘s a lot different than the U of L. But it is nice to see live theatre is alive and well in Lethbridge,” she said.
“ It’s gong to be so much fun. It’s fun for all ages.”


A Comedy of Errors opens at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 29 in Galt Gardens. There will be 12 more evening performances Jun 30, Jul 6, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28  and Aug. 3, 4, 10, 11. There will also be a Sunday road trip to Nanton for the  U of L “Nanton Arts Day,” July 23 plus One Saturday night evening performance at the Empress Theatre, Fort Macleod Aug. 5.


There will also be a Saturday matinee performance at Casa  at 2 p.m. on July 29.


 But get a preview of Shakespeare stories and songs at the Mocha Cabana, June 23 and July 7 at 7 p.m.. To book a table call 403-329-6243.
Admission to the performance is by donation.

 

A version of this story appears in the June 21,2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper

 

— by Richard Amery, L.a. Beat Editor

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