This past Friday, Vanguard’s Lyceum Theater opened its door for its rendition of “The Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare.
Though this production is not one of Shakespeare’s best known, Vanguard students made it a memorable one as it was brought to life on the Ed and Dixie Arnold Stage. With jarring twists and surprising comedy, it is a tale of tyranny, love, and redemption and will not fail to take any viewer by surprise.
The story features a royal family who suffers greatly when the king suspects his wife of adultery and believes the child she carries to be another man’s. Matters turn for the worse when he exiles his newborn daughter to a distant land. However, broken hearts are mended and hardened ones softened when the abandoned girl falls in love with a far away prince.
Before the show opened, a few actors shared their feelings about how they felt the night would unfold. Pierre Ekladios shared, “I think that we’re going to do very well tonight,” and that during the week’s dress rehearsals, “it’s been getting better everyday.” Senior Austin Nunn also weighed in and said he was “very excited to open,” and added, “we need an audience. I think it’s a great show that is not done very often.” He also noted that the theme is an amazing one, and he looks forward to sharing it with those who attend.
The excitement of the actors was well transferred, and opening night met with huge success. A large crowd gathered in Vanguard’s theater to welcome in the first show of the semester. Though it was the first of the 2016 season, many familiar faces were in the cast. The King, Leontes, and Queen, Hermione of Sicilia are portrayed by freshmen Pierre Ekladios and Celeste Filadelfia, who are both performing in the Lyceum Theater for the second time. They are joined by Hans Kelsen, a sophomore who plays Polixenes, King of Bohmenia and longtime friend of Leontes, as well as Austin Nunn, who takes the part of Camillo, a faithful lord and cupbearer. Another strong presence on the stage is Johanna Jacobson as Paulina, a resolute lady devoted to the queen.
The end of the show met with much applause from the audience. Those who wished could stay for an open forum, where any questions about the production could be asked to the actors. Multiple viewers were awestruck at the large number of lines each actor must learn in Shakespearean English and wished to know how it was memorized. The actors responded with laughs and smiles. Miranda Hickman, who played Autolycus, a trickster, noted that once one understood exactly what they were saying, memorizing came much more easily. Pierre Ekladios, whose character has over 650 lines, joked he had to write his script on the back of his eyelids to make sure he remembered everything. Another question inquired about how each person coped with the costumes. Most of the cast responded that the ruffs worn around their wrists and neck–in accordance with the era’s dress–were the most trying pieces to accommodate. Hans Kelsen noted, “It forces you to have good posture,” explaining the exact position he must hold his neck as not to crush the ruffled fabric.
The forum also revealed how the two non-Vanguard students on stage found their part. Mamillius, the young prince of Sicilia, was brought to life by 12-year-old Josh Bradford, younger brother to Vanguard senior and theater minor Drew Bradford. Contrastingly, Stan Jones joined the cast. He joked that whenever Professor Berkompas (department chair of the theatre program and director of this production) needed someone with gray hair and wrinkles, he was whom she called. Jones also shared that working with the college students was “one of the most pleasurable experiences.”
As intriguing as the cast and plot remain, the effort put into the production off the piece is equally captivating. Rehearsals began the first day of the new semester, running up until the day before opening night. Costumes, each having multiple handmade pieces, echoed the dress of the time. Over a dozen theatre students worked backstage, contributing their time and effort to the lighting, costumes, and sound needed during the nine shows.
Students, alumni, and community members alike should not miss the chance to see this production while they can. These words here cannot do justice to the passion seen on stage. This show will be running from from February 26-28 and March 3-6.