Taming of the Shrew
by El Camino High School

William Shakespeare’s centuries-old battle of the sexes gets a fun and lively and musical facelift in this new version, Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare Rattle and Roll, created by David Grapes and Robert Neblett for the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and now staged by El Camino High School in Oceanside, California. Set in an idyllic 1950s white-picket Pleasantville-like suburb of Americana, the show features Petruchio as a cad golfer and Katherina as a pants-wearing shrew who fall in love amongst rollerskating carhops, boy and girl doo-wop bands singing into big 1950s-style radio microphones, and iambic pentameter.

Director Sharon Strong and her team have put on another big show with terrific visuals and great humor. Leading the way are Preston Butler as Petruchio and Helena Marie Woods as Katherina. Preston, a senior, comes roaring back to the El Camino stage for the last time, previously shining as The Lion in The Wiz. No longer cowardly, now he’s a self-confident, egotistical Petruchio with a natural sense of humor and likeability in spite of his ego (at one point turning and grinning at the audience after one angry outburst, letting us know it’s all done with a wink and a nod). His personality is especially well demonstrated when a furious Kate pushes him to the ground, with Preston playing it cool, reclining on his back comfortably as if he wanted to be down there, talking casually, clearly bemused and intrigued by the shrew he’s wooing.

Talented sophomore Helena Marie Woods is his match as Kate. We’re first introduced to her as she’s happily got her cute and popular younger sister Bianca tied up in pool accoutrements. Her temper’s got all the men in town quivering in fear, at one point a guy even accidentally breaking his chair in his mad dash to escape her wrath (with his caddy adlibbing, offering the golfer his chair like a helpful and thoughtful caddy might do). And if they don’t dash away fast enough? You could end up like poor Lucentio with a guitar broken over his head.

Naturally, Kate and Petruchio clash quite violently as he begins to “woo” her, but their combative courtship slowly leads into romantic attraction between the two as Petruchio seems to admire her headstrong ways and Kate begins to find his absurd orders amusing and rather romantic in their own peculiar way.

The rest of the talent-rich cast works exceptionally well in creating the characters and atmosphere of this one. Stacey Brizeno is a fun and flirty Bianca who fights well with her sister. Allyson Francis does a nice job as Kate and Bianca’s mother Baptista (instead of a father). Ryan Yamamoto shines as frat boy Lucentio who gets his guitar broken over his head as he heads up an entertaining group of guys trying to stay out of Kate’s way and in the way of fair Bianca.

And, as the subtitle suggests, this is a play with music, and the rattling and rolling is never far away. Under the vocal direction of Debbie Nicastro, three radio singing groups knock out such classics as Let the Good Times Roll, Going to the Chapel, Only You, I Will Follow Him, Put your Head on My Shoulder, Just One Look, Wishing and Hoping, and Blue Moon. Nice touches of set pieces, costumes, and choreography add to the bright and dynamic evening that is Taming of the Shrew circa 1950s Americana and 1950s doo-wop.

Performed November 6 - 15, 2009.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Katherina: Helena Marie Woods
Petruchio: Preston Butler
Bianca: Stacey Brizeno
Lucentio: Ryan Yamamoto
Hortensio: Matt Berry
Gremio: John Givens
Grumio: Austin Cook
Tranio: Felix Cruz
Baptista: Allyson Francis
Biondella: Shelby Caughron
Pedant: Atis Jemison
Vincentio: Tanner Boisjolie
Chachi: Devin Talley
Curtis: Tayler Fant
Widow: Savannah Lowe
Tailor: Audrey Jones-Kellett
Hatmaker: Hunter Bowen
Carhops: Yessenia Barrios-Cruz, Natalie Ortiz
Priest and Officer: Reden Magtira
Rebecca Anne Cortes
Yessenia Barrios-Cruz
Dominique Biela-Bell
Hunter Bowen
Meagan Braithwaite
Audrey Jones-Kellett
Ashley Kerr
McKenzie Kruse
Racheal Haavig
Chelsea Holland
Niki Torres
Kayliana Reeves
Kelly Zimbelmann

~ Radio Singers ~

The Dreamettes:
April Bonilla
Jessica Duron
Beonica Hudgens

The Sequins:
Marisa Scott
Candace Borja
Savannah Fairchild-Lowe
Rachel Dillon

Wayne Higgs
Cory Allen
Efrain Nava
John Givens

Director: Sharon Strong
Vocal Director: Debbie Nicastro
Choreographer: Kimberly Moore
Stage Manager: Hunter Daigle
Sound Design/Operator: Tyler Glilck
Light Design: Ramon Nino


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