The BJU Classic Players will perform a rendition of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew Nov. 20-22 that will show audiences “a rip-roarin’ good time,” said the production’s director, Mr. Jeff Stegall.
The story revolves around Baptista, a rich gentleman, and his two daughters, Katherine and Bianca. The sweet and tender younger daughter, Bianca, has three suitors, but the older daughter Katherine — the shrew, if you will — is independent, abrasive and has no suitors to speak of.
Despite the suitors’ desires to marry Bianca, Baptista declares his younger daughter may not be married until the elder daughter marries. None of Bianca’s suitors are willing to marry Katherine, but a man named Petruchio arrives and says he will marry Katherine regardless of her strong-willed character. The remainder of the play follows Petruchio and Katherine’s volatile marriage, as well as Bianca’s suitors’ comedic attempts to win her love.
Rather than using the traditional Italian setting of the play, Stegall chose to use the Wild West, Wyoming in particular, as the backdrop for the story.
“I sort of knew we wanted a time period, at least 19th century or before, so that marrying the older [daughter] before the younger seemed to make sense,” Stegall said. After observing several clues in the script, the Wild West clicked. “At one point, one of the suitors says, ‘I wouldn’t marry [Katherine] for a mine of gold,’” Stegall said. “And I just think ‘gold mine’ seems very Western-town, and that’s what took a lot of people across the country to begin with: the gold rush.”
Additionally, this is the first time BJU has not used a married couple to portray the play’s main couple, making for some interesting and, at times, humorous responses to Petruchio’s repeated line, “Kiss me, Kate.”
“Some of the challenges we’ve had is there are so many kisses that [Petruchio and Katherine] have to have, and we’re not going to have [Philip Eoute and Annette Pait], who are married to other people, kiss each other,” Stegall said. As a result, Stegall dubs the play their ‘creative stage-kissing production’ and said they have come up with some creative solutions to the problem.
With a strong cast of students and faculty, the production is a hilarious farce about love, respect and everything in between. The showings are Nov. 20-21 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are now available at bju.edu or at Programs & Productions in the lobby of Rodeheaver Auditorium.