Theater stages 'Abridged' version of Shakespeare's works

by April Helms Special products editor Published:

Do you like Shakespeare?

Would you like to see all of Shakesepeare's works in the same evening?

Aurora Community Theatre is staging "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield for two weekends March 1 through 9. The 97-minute long comedy features three actors -- Stephen Berg, Seth Clerget and Brian Diehl -- playing all of the characters, and includes all 37 plays plus Shakespeare's sonnets. The show is directed by Don Bernardo.

Bernardo said a big challenge for this production was casting.

"A three-man show requires a certain dynamic and chemistry between the actors, not to mention the fact that you can't afford to have a 'weak link' in such a small ensemble, or they stick out like a sore thumb," he said. "It's also a huge challenge to cast a show that was written and performed by the playwrights -- each character is written by and for the individual personalities, performance styles, etc., of the original playwrights, so you have to find actors who can 'inhabit' that material in somewhat the same way the original actors did, while still bringing originality to their performances.

"Fortunately, we found a fantastic ensemble of very skilled players: Brian Diehl, who regular Aurora audiences will remember from the "Greater Tuna" series of plays that have been performed in this time slot in the past few years, Seth Clerget, and Stephen Berg. All are excellent actors with not only great comic chops, but an appreciation for the Shakespeare material as well."

Bernardo said that the play has "quite a bit of audience participation."

"It has been a slight challenge for the actors to rehearse those sections without having audience reactions to work with and play against," he said. "We keep dragging our poor stage manager (Aurora resident Brenda Willis) onstage during rehearsals. But these guys are very talented, and they'll make every performance different and something special."

And if you don't like Shakespeare? That should not be an issue, Bernardo said.

"This isn't your garden-variety Shakespeare," Bernardo said. "It's a hilarious romp through The Bard's plays, and as one review of the original production says, 'If you like Shakespeare, you'll like this show. If you hate Shakespeare, you'll love this show.' All of the plays are covered, but along the way we poke fun not only at Shakespeare, but Emeril Lagasse, Al Sharpton, valley girls, 'Star Wars,' Justin Bieber, Anne Hathaway, the NFL, Ernest Angley, the TV show 'Glee,' modern psychology, Godzilla, rap music, and everything in between."

Ticket and show information

Tickets are $16 for adults, and $11 for 18 and under. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.

For details or to order tickets, call 330-562-1818 or visit www.auroracommunitytheatre.com online.

Aurora Community Theatre is at 115 E. Pioneer Trail.

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