On May 20th, at 7 o’clock in the Pawling Elementary School (as an actual tempest raged outside) the ACEkids Theatre Program presented Shakespeare’s The Tempest to a roomful of delighted parents and friends. The production was directed by Amy Emke with the help of Beth Canevari, and a crew of other dedicated adults.
The production was charming. I was vastly impressed by how much of the Shakespearean dialogue was preserved. These kids, ranging from grades K – 8, were speaking the actual words that Shakespeare wrote, and doing so without stumbling or hesitating! In order to make the play more accessible, many of the lines were simply cut – instead, Iris, Juno, and Ceres (goddesses who have minor roles in the real play) served as energetic narrators, updating the audience after each scene.
Another addition to make the show more fun was music. The ensemble of Spirits and Sailors (K – 2nd grade) graced the audience with a lovely rendition of “Full Fathoms Five”, set to music by Aaron Emke (the same writer who brought us The Hatmaker’s Daughter last year), and a crowd-pleasing dance to “Funky Town”. This group of actors did a wonderful job, and even lined the walls of the theater with drawings of the particular spirit they were representing. Colorful sets and adorable costumes also enhanced what was already a wonderful production.
The acting was really splendid. Although I loved all of it, my favorite scene was probably Act II, scene ii, in which the monster Caliban encounters a drunken Stephano and the jester Trinculo. The energy on the stage was infectious – the entire audience was laughing the whole scene long. Both young ladies playing the air-spirit Ariel were equally lively. The lovable romance that blossomed between Ferdinand and Miranda had the audience sighing. Even during the more serious scenes, like those of the Alonso-Gonzalo-Antonia-Sebastian plotline, were exciting and enjoyable. Prospera’s ending monologue, telling the audience that their applause would be enough ‘magic’ to send the characters safely back to Italy, was the perfect ending to a delightful evening.
Perhaps the best part of the production was how obvious it was that the kids were having fun. The perfect way to spend a Friday night, ACEkids Theatre’s The Tempest invited viewers into a “brave new world” of magic, laughter, and a whole lot of fun.
This article is sponsored by a generous donation from M&S of Pawling. http://www.mandsofpawling.com/