The Teen Ensemble of the Synetic Theater is taking over Crystal City this weekend with their performance of Taming of the Shrew. They are remounting the production that was a part of Synetic’s “Silent Shakespeare” series.
The ensemble truly blows the audience away taking this production that was performed only two years ago by Synetic company members. Having seen the original production, these kids really do not miss a beat. This production is under the direction of Alex Mills and Irina Tsikurishvili, and they put a lot of work into training these kids in such a unique style of acting.
The Taming of the Shrew tells the story of a father (Ashton Shaffer) and his two daughters, Katherine (Elise McDonnell) and Bianca (Maddie Osborn). He spends a portion of the show trying to marry them off and the rest of the action unfolds as the more stubborn daughter, Katherine, has to spend the rest of her life now answering to her husband.
This production took the classical Shakespeare tale and flung it into the 21st century in that this family was not a royal family, but a celebrity family living in LA and under constant paparazzi. This modernized the production more than the story itself. It allows the audience to see into the life of the rich and famous. The set design of the show is the same the original production by Anastasia Symes. Five grand rolling walls serve as the base set for the entire show. They tower over the cast, but help depict the large homes of the wealthy in LA. Colin K. Bills’ lighting design also contributes to the excitement of this piece, and brings lots of emotion to the beautiful set; it heightens the reality of the show which is extremely important as the characters do not speak a single line.
The leads of the show really worked hard to nail the choreography of the professionals who have been doing this type of theatre for years, while they have only been working this production for only a few months. McDonnell and Osborn really make Shaffer work to take care of his daugthers. They are extremely driven. There is no doubt that McDonnell was a scorned woman who does not want any part of her new like with Petruchio (Misha Ryjik) and Osborn certainly enjoys herself up there during the scene when her three suitors battle it out to win her affection through dance.
Ryjik also acts beyond his years, as one of the veterans of the Teen Ensemble who has also had the opportunity to appear in Synetic’s main stage production of Macbeth. He was a pleasure to watch as he gave his all to win over Katherine.
The costumes changed most from the original production as Costume Designers Anna Blanchard and Corey Searles Dunn had to design a whole new set of costumes for this cast that was much smaller in stature, but twice as many in number. Their costumes were filled with vibrant colors which made every actor pop on stage.
The entire ensemble is taking part in such a unique theatrical learning experience, and all of the young actors really seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage and appeared to learn a lot through the process. There is a great number of young actors in the group who will only be able to hone their craft more as time goes on.
The Taming of the Shrew plays through Sunday April 14th at Synetic Theater -1800 S. Bell Street, in Arlington, VA. Performances are today at 2 pm and 8 pm and tomorrow at 2 pm. For tickets call (800) 494-8497, or purchase online.