Shakespeare's feast of humour and sexual politics, The Taming of the Shrew, will be reimagined in 1950s Italy when Phoenix Ensemble presents the classic comedy at Beenleigh’s Pavilion Theatre over four weekends in April and May.
Opening on Friday 24 April, The Taming of the Shrew is the hilarious romantic romp through the romantic entanglements of the Minola sisters: "shrewish" Katherina and her “sweet” younger sister Bianca.
As Shakespeare tells it, a surplus of suitors for Bianca prompts their father to impose the condition that Katherina must be married before Bianca – sparking a series of secret deals, assumed identifies and unconventional courtship.
Director Roslyn Johnson describes the Phoenix production as “Shakespeare with a twist”, setting the comedy in 1950s Italy.
“Audiences who love classic films like Roman Holiday will recognise the inspiration for the visual style,” she says.
"There is some re-contextualisation that respects the text but helps the audience. Our 15th Century Italian merchant becomes a 1950s Italian restaurateur with just a touch of Mafioso.
"The text, however, is paramount and we have worked hard to respect the iambic pentameter and master the art of delivering it with comic timing. But where the words become challenging, the physical comedy will help out the audience.”
Roslyn says she always loved the film version starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but it was only after she stumbled across a version starring John Cleese that realised the story's full comedic potential.
"Anyone who likes the 'boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy and girl fight but fall in love' kind of story will enjoy this show.”
The cast of 14 has come from far and wide, and Roslyn has been impressed with how everyone has “synced”.
(Side note: The Taming of the Shrew was the inspiration for the 1990s romantic comedy Ten Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger.)
Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh
7.30pm: 24, 25 April, 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 May
Tickets: $26 adult, $24 concession and children
Katherina Minola - Rebecca Lamb
Bianca Minola - Emma Quigley
Baptista Minola - Joel Baskin
Lucentio - Jack McGirr
Petruchio - Lachlan Clark
Tranio - Blayke Sykes
Gremio - Ken Dutt
Hortensio- Richard Murphy
Grumio- Noah Sykes
Biandella - Bianca Armstrong
Vincentio - Ian Maurice
Cook/pedant/ensemble - Ryan Thomas
Tailor/widow/ensemble - Jo Mikkelson
Rosa/Ensemble - Jane Schon/Skyah Fishpool