Running from April 20 through May 19, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
The Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Isn’t it fascinating how simply by flipping the gender roles in a play like “The Taming of the Shrew” can change it in a subtle, almost indefinable way?
The Porters of Hellsgate, with their usual aplomb, have taken this play and turned it on its head. With the gender roles firmly reversed, it becomes infused with new energy and humor, as well as giving these spectacular women a chance to sink their teeth into the most wonderful prose ever written…with a wink and a nod and some majestic eye rolling. Kate is not now a man, however, the character of Kate is simply played by a man, a man not trying to be female. The same is true for all the roles. Petruchio is a man, but played by a woman as herself…confused…don’t be. It totally works.
The sStory of the shrewish Katherine and her exasperated father willing to pawn her off to whoever has the nerve to take her on is one of the most repeated and reinterpreted in the Shakespeare cannon, so it is with some relief that I read of the Porters of Hellsgate’s intentions with their version. Shakespeare can be tweaked a bit too much sometimes, let’s face it, but this is pure inspiration and the results are effervescent and sublime.
Of course, the cast is brilliant. They are chosen by Hellsgate after all.
It’s a play full of humor and family arguments and challenges to our feisty femaleness, but watching a male actor squirm and swallow his pride as Kate does when she falls hard for the quite marvelous, thigh-slapping, stage-striding, sure-gazed Petruchio is perfection.
There is song and there is dance and a little sauciness to boot. It’s a madcap, high-energy, storming the gates kind of production, with leather and frills and tousles and playfulness. This is a play without death or battles or mad maneuvering…unless you count the love that’s forged and the Kate that’s tamed. But we all know that Kate was yearning for someone to challenge her, and in the end she didn’t give in to Petruchio, she - or in this case, he - simply saw Petruchio for what he was, a man in love…completely.
I never thought of this play as a woman giving up or being broken in or learning some kind of lesson, far from it. It’s a love story and told this way around it’s still a love story…just funnier and more intense in a totally different kind of way.
I adore The Porters of Hellsgate and their mad commitment to performing the entirety of Shakespeare's cannon. It’s always a highlight of my year when they open and this is another full force production with insight, spirit and humility….absolutely loved it!!!
The run is frighteningly short….so don’t dawdle!!
Christopher Sly - Sean Faye
Sly’s wife - Lauren Jean Lee
Petruchio - Lauren Jean Lee
Katherina - Sean Faye
Lucentio - Julie Lanctot
Train - Lauren Zbylski
Train - Evan Isaac Lipkin
Baptista - Dawn Alden
Hortensio - Kate Faye
Gremio - Jennifer Lee Weaver
Grumio - Whitton Frank
Biondello - Micheal Bigley
Vincent - Jill Penfold
Merchant - Caitlin McColl
Musician - Juno Eiland
Costume Design - Jessica Pasternak
Scenic Design - Thomas Bigley & Alex Parker
Lighting Design - Rose Fliegel, Thomas Bigley & Will Block
Sound Design - Nick Neidorf
Fight Choreography - Jesse James Thomas
Set Construction - Thomas Bigley & Alex Parker, Joe Rotolo, Margret Starbuck, Michael Bigley
Lighting Consultant - Douglas Gabrielle
Text Coach - Charles Pasternak
Graphic Design - Kate Drude
Ticketing - Sean Faye
Outreach - Gus Krieger
Producer - Charles Pasternak, Thomas Bigley, Gud Krieger, Sean Faye, Alex Parker, Will Block, Nick Neidorf