West Springfield High School
Meridian High School's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] was charming, hilarious, and perfectly bizarre. For a show attempting to capture all of William Shakespeare's plays in just over 90 minutes, this play was expectedly chaotic in the most engaging way. With a non-existent fourth wall, the cast was able to interact with the audience hilariously and organically, and it was all pulled off by a troupe of 30 actors performing a play meant for three.
Particularly impressive was the performance of Phi Oeschger, who was able to not only shine as a comedic actor but as a dramatic one as well, in the role of Ophelia. Whether they were running across the stage screaming, recruiting the audience to play their superego, or repeatedly dying as a result of splashing water in their own face, the audience was roaring. However, during their heartfelt monologue, one could have heard a pin drop in the theater. Very few characters had the opportunity to portray this range of emotion, and Oeschger did so perfectly. Drew Miller's performance was equally impressive. Spending the first half of the play on rollerblades and the second half portraying an emotionally unstable Hamlet, Miller showed an impressive level of dedication to his roles. His incredible comedic timing, dancing ability, and stage presence only enhanced his outstanding performance.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] was riddled with slapstick humor, which the entire cast perfectly performed, especially standout Emma Hart. Through her exaggerated physicality and big character choices, Hart embodied each character she played, especially Romeo in his attempts to court Juliet (Katie Rice).
While the acting and commitment from everyone on stage were phenomenal, the show would not have been possible without the lighting design of Drew Miller and the stage management of Bella Villano. In a show with so many full ensemble scenes, which included many chaotic entrances and exits, organized stage management was key. In Meridian High School's production, each scene was executed perfectly with smooth transitions and masterful blocking. The organization of the show was further aided by the lighting, which included frequently turning on the house lights during audience interaction scenes and the effective use of moving lights.
In conclusion, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] was hilarious, chaotic, brilliantly acted, and an incredible feat to pull off in an hour and a half.
Heritage High School
Beware Shakespearean scholars and Elizabethan era fanatics, Meridian High School's performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] is bound to poke (viciously stab) at Shakespeare's life's work.
Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, and first debuting at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in the early 80's, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] parodies and pokes fun at all 37 plays written by William Shakespeare in 97 hilarious minutes. Meridian High School performed a revised version of the original play in order to keep up with modern pop culture references.
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, a love-stricken Romeo, played by Emma Hart, and an underaged maiden, played by Katie Rice, fall madly in love and die tragically young. Both Hart and Rice alike had audience members screaming with laughter throughout their brief retelling of the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. But this was a story of all 37 works of Shakespeare, so it would be a crime not to mention the commitment of the entire cast throughout the show. From dragging bodies off stage and getting "naked", to puking on audience members and dumping water on themselves, the cast did it all. When Drew Miller said, "Screw time I'm having fun!" It finally gave words to the theme of the show.
"Breaking the fourth wall" is a term often used when the audience is acknowledged by the script or cast in some way, shape, or form. There was no fourth wall in Meridian High School's performance of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised]. Cast members freely entered the audience, most notably during the second act, in which Hamlet was performed. Audience members were brought on stage as well as asked to participate in Phi Oeschger's discovery of the layers of Ophelia's character.
With so much chaos going on onstage and throughout the house, it would be shameful to not applaud stage manager Bella Villano and assistant stage manager Colleen Carpenter for their ability to keep up with all the chaos. The lighting, designed by Drew Miller, was incredible. Miller utilized the lights to set the mood and scenes and enable smooth transitions between scenes.
Many of the actors played several different roles and had to go through costumes at near light speed. Costume designers Adin Smith, Gayle Lobaton, Rachel Margarella, and Sophia Koo made the ingenious costumes. All the costumes created distinct characters while also only being top pieces to allow for quick changes.
At the end of the jam-packed 97 minutes the audience was left with the kind of buzz that only comes from hours of laughter. Meridian High School's modernized retelling of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (Revised) could not have been funnier and is a must see for all.