by DICK KEREKES
A new theater company, Skrank Tank Productions, launched its inaugural production at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre on August 6th and 7th, with Adam Long’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). This play uses three actors to perform and summarize all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays in about an hour and forty five minutes. The show will continue next week on August 7 and 8 at the Amelia Community Theatre in the Fernandina area.
This is a fast paced production whose humor will bring you to tears, at least it did to the almost full house at ABET on opening night. You did not have to know anything about Shakespeare to enjoy this play (but it helps).
Directed by Skrank Tank Productions organizer, Jaclyn Hofmann, milked this parody of all his humor by using three very talented young actors, who augmented the already funny script with spontaneous adlibs.
All 16 of Shakespeare’s comedies are condensed into one brief sketch, while the tragedies were given the most attention, especially Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. Even some of the Bard’s less known work was touched on briefly (everything was brief!!). Titus Andronicus a very obscure play, was made into a gory TV style cooking show (oh, Julia Child is turning over in her grave).
Two of the three actors, Erik Anthony DeCicco and Dustin Whitehead are both JU theatre graduates that I had seen them in a number of JU’s productions over the years. Mr. DeCicco just finished up his Masters Degree in theatre at University of Louisville, and Mr. Whitehead is currently seeking his MFA in Acting at The Theatre School, at DePaul University. Tyler Ross has been on stage with local theatres constantly in the past three years with roles in Urinetown, Othello, Bat Boy The Musical, Suessical the Musical, and Guys and Dolls, just to name a few. He has been nominated for an acting award for his performance as Homer in Anatomy of Gray at Theatre Jacksonville. The winners will be announced August 28th at TJ, Good Luck, Tyler.
Although the actors played multi-multi roles with various costumes changes, essentially DeCicco is the Shakespearian scholar, Dustin Whitehead is sort of a very funny straight man, and Tyler Ross wearing lovely god awful wigs does all the female roles. The highlight of the Ross ladies’ performances included not dying without first vomiting on the audience.
Jaclyn Hofman, the Director, could not be there opening night, since she has one of the major roles in Players by the Sea’s Hair. Ms. Hofman recently earned her MFA in Acting at Michigan State University, and she too is a Jacksonville University graduate. This talented actress and director will be off to Atlanta this fall accepting a theatre position with the Shakespeare Company of that city.
This is was a very minimalistic production, with Mark Stater as the light and sound operator the entire technical staff and the actors were their own stage managers. (I peeked back stage after the show. How they kept track of the many props, like hats, dresses, swords etc, is one of the mysteries of theatre.)
This show marks a milestone in Jacksonville Theatre. It is the first Wednesday night performance in the Jacksonville area of community theatre that I know of. If you wanted to see theatre on Wednesday, you could go to the Alhambra Dinner Theatre or an FCCJ Artist Series road show (if one were in town). The moral of the story, give them a good product at a reasonable price, and the theatre lovers in this city will come out regardless of what day of the week it is.
Everyone left the theatre happy and satisfied by the fine performances of the actors, and perhaps a new appreciation of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, even though his work was rather skewed and stewed but even the old Bard himself would have loved it. I heard several patrons exiting, saying “I love my Willie”, and there can be no greater tribute. (I think).
Thanks ABET, for once again opening your doors to new groups providing interesting evenings of theatre, during the MIDDLE of the week!!!
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
by DICK KEREKES