This past Monday, June 8, the Pawling Shakespeare Club put on an original production for the spring luncheon, a tale of magic and revenge…er, that is to say, justice. It took place at The Barn, a converted theater at the home of Marie DiLorenzo on Quaker Hill, and was accompanied by a superb luncheon catered by Vinnie’s which included a delicious chicken marsala, sausage and peppers, pastas, salads, scrumptious desserts, which was deftly organized by the club treasurer, Anne Wagner.
The play was conceived by Shura Saul, long time member of the club, and written by the characters themselves, who included The Three Witches (Pat Markowski, Irma Harkins and Amy Kornfeld); Titania (Eleanor Guida-Gee) and Oberon (Forbes Linkhorn), Ophelia (Carol Lee Kantor) and Hamlet (Stephen Haggerty), Desdemona (Sandra Duffy)and Othello (Sam Weinsten), Hermione and Leontes (Rita and Barry Schaeffer) and Paulina (Nancy Sheridan), Athena (Susan Stone), the goddess of war (and justice), and Harpo Marx as Puck (Stephanie Rogers). Barry Schaeffer wrote all the lyrics for the songs, which were performed to some familiar melodies. Marie DiLorenzo directed, Dale Kolanko was the stage manager and Richard Hoffman the accompaniest.
The play acknowledges that the women in Shakespeare’s plays, and in Shakespeare’s day, were not treated fairly or kindly. After an introduction by the Witches (“The Witches’ Rap”) each of the women gets a chance, through the magic of Athena, to wreak some havoc, and show their men what it feels like to be ignored, belittled, discarded. Puck provided a musical introduction to each scene to the tune of “A Little Bit of Luck (Puck)” and a bit of slapstick business. Titania got the action going with a lament to the tune of “Adelaide’s Lament” from Guys and Dolls. As the plot unfolds, all the ladies participate in a delicious declaration of revenge, to the tune of “He Had it Comin’” from Chicago. One by one, Oberon is turned into a mule, Hamlet is shoved off to a dreary monastery, Othello is chained to the insidious and tedious Iago and Leontes is turned to stone, to be assaulted by children and resting pigeons. Seeing the error of their ways, the men beg forgiveness, which is granted to the echoes of The Honeymooners (“Hermione, you’re da greatest!”). The men proclaimed their lasting contrition to the tune of “You Gotta Have Heart” and the ladies responded with “Can’t Help Lovin’ Will Shakespeare’s Men”, which turned into a rousing finale with the entire cast participating.
Theater at its best transports you without fancy costumes or special effects, but by nothing more than the wholehearted belief of the actors on stage. That was the case here, and the show opened and closed to rave…review.
The Pawling Shakespeare Club, founded in 1898, is the oldest Shakespeare Club in the United States.