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Best written reviews for “The Tempest” performed by Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Reviewed on May 20, 2021.

This show may be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc58OUxTZ0c


Lauren Katz

Lake Braddock Secondary School


Goddesses, magic, a fairy, a deserted island, all in the Wild West?  That's just a sneak peek of what Stone Bridge High School's production of The Tempest was all about. 


One of Shakespeare's last written plays, The Tempest tells the story of an abandoned island inhabited by a sorcerer, Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda.  After a shipwreck on the island bringing new visitors, the entire island is thrown into chaos, and the lives and love of many are put in jeopardy.


The students of Running Dog Productions were able to create a concise film version of William Shakespeare's The Tempest set in the Wild West.  Their production used brief voice-over synopses throughout to detail the two-hour play in just 30 minutes.  The fast-paced performance was full of energy and brought a new life to the old Shakespearian classic.


One of the most notable performances that held a commanding stage presence was that of Diana Altenhof, who played Ariel.  Throughout the show, the fairy would prance about the stage singing spells and using her entire body to convey her character's passionate feelings.  Her boundless energy contrasted well with the slower, more emotional scenes of the show and brought balance to every scene.  From when she first stepped onstage to her last exit, Diana Altenhof's performance was captivating and engaging, something hard to forget.


Another performance that had considerable energy in addition to some wonderful stage chemistry was the scene between Trinculo and Stephano, played by Grace Paskey and Bella LoBue.  The two made quite a dynamic duo, moving about the stage with large, commanding comedic gestures.  The pair never failed to get a good laugh and brought much needed comedic relief to the more somber moments of the show.


The show would not have been able to go on as it did without the fabulous work of Ava Bueno, Emma Paskey, Katie Reif, and TJ Santoro, who all worked to edit and mix the audio for the productions.  The virtual medium of theatre brings a difficult new challenge to producing shows: creating a production in which everyone can be heard clearly.  Throughout the entire duration of the show, all the actors were heard clearly, and no actor's voice was too loud or quiet.  The sound mixing was flawless, and it was immediately evident after just a minute of hearing the performance the amount of work put into the sound for this show.  The flawless sound combined with the quick cuts and smooth transition made the show a very satisfying watch.


Another tech element that shone through was the set, designed by Maia Ocampo and co-designed by Diana Altenhof.  There were many sets constructed for this show, which helped differentiate one location from another; a helpful element for a show that is so fast paced.  Every set fit the scene it was for perfectly and looked beautiful at the same time.  The little detailing and aesthetic elements added to the sets, like painting the wood to look aged and overgrown and placing intricate vines over the buildings and structures.  These elements made the sets look professional, and the high-quality level of the construction was consistent in every scene.


Stone Bridge High School's production of The Tempest was a refreshing and new look at the 1600s classic.  The effort put in was universal in both acting and technical elements, and made apparent through the seamless transitions and powerful stage presences throughout the entire performance--an unforgettable performance of such an unforgettable story.

Emma Berver

Washington-Liberty High School


Stone Bridge High School's production of The Tempest took Shakespeare's original text and adapted it into a high energy, well-designed, and engaging ensemble piece. To shorten the run time of the production, the students inserted their own voice-overs in between some scenes to move the story along. The props, costumes, and sets used gave the story a Wild West twist, but otherwise the script is pure Shakespeare.


The acting in The Tempest managed to balance powerful monologues by a single actor on stage with energetic and comedic ensemble scenes. Andrew Burton, who played Prospero, delivered his final monologue with such power and projection that it made the final scene of the show something to think about due to Propero's dubious morality. Bella LoBue, Grace Paskey, and Emma Noble (playing Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban respectively) put such gusto and liveliness into their scene in which Stephano discovers Caliban hiding from Trinculo, through their snappy dialogue and inebriated singing. All around, the cast had a strong sense of the projection and pronunciation required to convey The Tempest to an audience, and the story was cohesively told.


The production design made the performance visually engaging and elevated the show to another level of professionalism. The variety in the sets, from a wagon riding through a storm shown by projecting moving clouds onto the stage, to a lush forest backdrop, to high ivy-covered walls, immersed the story in an authentic environment. Maia Ocampo designed the sets while Alex Merkt decorated them. The props, by Emma Paskey, were effectively utilized to identify each character in the story, the most memorable being Prospero's staff topped with a sparkling purple orb. The lighting design, by Riley Seppings, drenched the set in emotion - such as when Ariel hurled accusations at Prospero and the stage was awash in an angry red hue. All of these elements combined were able to augment the intrigue, power dynamics, and lushness of The Tempest.


The film directors, Ava Bueno, Emma Paskey, and TJ Santoro, used an array of creative camera angles that effectively captured the stage performance on high quality video with such precision and immersion that it was easy to forget it was released virtually. The close-ups of Prospero's face during his final speech, the wide shots that encompassed the whole ensemble and the sets, and the tracking shots used to follow a character as they walked onstage gave the recording a cinematic feel. The editing, which was done by the film directors in addition to Katie Reif, was quick and creative - the best example being when they used three quick cuts between close-up camera angles to render the moment when Stephano lassoed Trinculo's foot to pull him out from under his hiding spot. The audio mixing was admirably done too, with the team managing to capture both loud passionate speeches and a melodic flute performance by Emma Paskey equally well.


The students of Stone Bridge High School created an exceptionally detailed production of The Tempest with so many small touches it deserved to be watched again. But most importantly, it seemed that the group took a classic theater play and had fun with it, as they managed to expand the many elements into something that felt entirely unique.


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