What it is, what it is…Get ready to be transported back to the seventies with all its kitschy-ness, loud colors and lingo combine it with the Elizabethan Shakespearean style, and you have a wonderfully imagination melee directed by Aaron Posner. It is Shakespeare as we’ve never seen before, Mr. Posner magically intertwines the original script with 70s clichés and music. Devon Painter designs the costumes to fit the decade—a match of hippy flair and Brady bunch bell bottoms with leisure suits. The stage, designed by Tony Cisek, was as though we were transported back in time and dropped off on the set of The Brady Bunch. Max Doolittle used the lighting design to harmonize with the costume colors and stage to create a retro atmosphere.
Just as it was during Shakespeare’s time the acoustics were fabulous as every actor could be heard perfectly throughout the theater without amplification. The show opens with ’70s commercial heard before the performance, then with a ’70s Variety show musical number introducing the story and players. Brian Mani, who played Falstaff was perfectly cast as the bard of ill intent; he was off-color, smelly, loud, gaudy, yet still likable. He hatched a scheme to woo and bed the two wives of Windsor with the help of his merry henchmen played by Danielle Gallo as Pistol who commanded the stage with her small strong presence and Dante Robert Rossi as Nym, a simple nave.
These two actors also played other roles– Danielle as J. Rugby and Roberta and Dante as Fenton, the love interest to Anne Page, which is the role that brought him to life. Mistress Quickly, played by Kate Eastwood Norris was a brilliant sidebar. As nurse to Dr. Caius and oft-times messenger… for the right price, her Midwestern drawl combined with great facial expressions and comic timing made her a humorous addition. Her 70’s dances and side comments brought her character to life. Dr. Caius, played by Cody Nickel, mastered a French accent with the aplomb of a dandy, sporting a handlebar mustache to boot.
It is Shakespeare as we’ve never seen before, Mr. Posner magically intertwines the original script with 70s clichés and music.
This is an ensemble show and the actors all did a yeoman’s job in bringing the story to life importing the Shakespearean story to relevance in the 70’s era. Ryan Sellers, the understudy for Ford, performed magnificently as both the jealous husband and the disguised suitor Brook, posing as an English rock star to investigate the fidelity of his wife’s intent with Falstaff. His impersonation was so real, that I did not know it was Ford in disguise until he took his wig off. Brook also does an amusing rendition of the song, “Satisfaction.”
The characters are equally loud and garish like their 70’s fashions and cliché sayings are strung throughout like, “Dynamite”, “Let’s get it on”, etc. as well as songs from that era, and fads of the day such as roller skating, which incidentally was a rolling ballet of sorts by the two lead lovers and a comic moment for Mistress Quickly and Fenton.
The show ends with another 70’s style variety show number reminiscent of Sonny and Cher, Osmond’s and even the Brady children. I agree with the ending lyrics that the plot was thin but full of heart… and I would add… full of fun, frivolity, rad tunes, what’s happening, and Outta sight. Grab your tie-dyed shirts, bell bottoms and see this play. Be there or be square.
Running Time: 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission