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Published: Friday, 6/11/2004

Director, young cast tackle 'The Tempest'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For the next couple of weeks, The Tempest may describe Mary Kitz's life.

The University of Michigan theater student is directing an adaptation of the aforementioned William Shakespeare romance for the Young Rep, the educational arm of the Toledo Repertoire Theatre. And she's doing it with two casts, each of which brings its own challenges and joys.

Based on an adaptation for youngsters by Lois Burdette, the play is being presented through Sunday by actors ages 9 through 14. Next week, the actors will be ages 5 through 10.

"The Tempest by itself is not for little kids," Kitz said. "Kids like comedy, they like to be laughed at."

Kitz said that last summer's Young Rep adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream was a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for children, with plenty of humor to emphasize. For The Tempest, Kitz said she had to make the atmosphere more eerie and fantastical to help the youngsters stay interested.

The Shakespearean tale concerns Prospero and his daughter, Miranda. Many years earlier, Prospero was the Duke of Milan, but he was overthrown by his brother, Antonio, with the help of King Alonso, who put Prospero and Miranda, then 2, in a small boat and abandoned them to the mercies of the sea. They landed on a small island, where Prospero learned to be a magician. And now it's time for revenge.

Raising a storm at sea, Prospero causes the ship carrying Antonio and Alonso to wreck on the island, where he intends to have Alonso's son, Ferdinand, fall in love with the now-grown Miranda.

The challenge with the younger cast, Kitz said, is the age of the actors. "They're little kids, very cute, fun, and full of energy," she said. But it's harder to get them to stay focused and to project their voices. The older cast understands the basics of acting, so the challenge lies in helping each to become a better performer.

Despite her many challenges, Kitz foresees plenty of rewards, both for the audience and for her cast. What the children lack in finesse, they make up for in enthusiasm.

"When I was at the Rep, I was the same age as they are," she said, referring to her young performers.

They may be rough around the edges now, but they are the future of live theater in Toledo, and the future looks very, very good.

The Young Rep's production of "TheTempest" runs through June 20 in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 Tenth St. Performances by the older cast are 7 p.m. today and tomorrow and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Performances by the younger cast are 7 p.m. June 17-19 and 2:30 p.m. June 20. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Information: 419-243-9277.

For its summer production, Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater takes a light-hearted approach.

Barnboozled: He Won't Come in from the Barn, opening tonight, is a comedy about an older farmer, Alymer Clark, who lives on a small farm, and a younger farmer who needs more ground, according to Marty Davis, theater manager.

The Ted Johns comedy deals with the clash of modern and traditional approaches to farming, Davis says. It stars Rick Woods as Aylmer, David Fioretto as Wayne, Bonnie Froelich as Rose, Kenneth Wieland as Anton, and Thom Sinn, who also is directing, in a pair of roles: Ralph and the veterinarian. Steve Froelich is the stage manager.

"Barnboozled" opens tonight in Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater, 25740 North State Rt. 25, Perrysburg. Dinner begins at 6 p.m.; the show starts at 8. The show runs through Sept. 3, and other evening performances this month are scheduled June 18 and 25; tickets are $39. A matinee, with doors opening at noon, is slated Wednesday; tickets are $36. Information: 419-874-8505.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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