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Auburn's young, talented cast takes on 'The Tempest'
Shakespeare offers Anthony Conley-O'Donnell more than just a complex play on the bright stage.
He presents him an enlightening lesson in history, drama, comedy, English language and literature.
"I really had to do some research on what I had to do," said the Auburn High School senior. "I had to make sure I understood how everything was pronounced, what it all meant and how it led to the many different changes in the script.
"It's a grueling process sometimes ... but it's definitely (rewarding)."
A well-prepared O'Donnell shines as the leading protagonist Prospero, the rightful but deposed Duke of Milan, in the Auburn High School Actors' Guild's production of Shakespeare's romantic comedy, "The Tempest".
"The Tempest", which premiered last week, closes with three nightly performances at the Auburn Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Proceeds from the play benefit the school's drama department.
"The Tempest" – Shakespeare's last full-length play before his retirement, blends comedy and suspense, intrigue and romance, contempt and forgiveness.
Considering the play's diverse settings and assorted characters, it was a daunting challenge for director Warren Kerr, the school's drama teacher, to bring to life on stage.
The play opens with a technically sound and dramatic scene – a storm-tossed ship bearing the King of Naples and his party as they struggle to stay afloat.
"Visually it's wonderful. The kids have performed well," Kerr said.
"It's (Shakespeare's) most complex and emotionally demanding play," he added."Setting wise it was difficult, but I have brilliant helpers in my program who have come up with really elegant solutions to all of those issues."
Longtime supporters Jeanine and John Bartelt provided their expertise in costume and set designs. Oregon Shakespeare Festival composer Todd Barton provided the original music. Office manager Pamela Bolen and stage manager Hannah Nys have made it go.
One noticeable variance from Shakespeare's script — a number of the male characters, including the King's villainous brother, Antonio, are now female.
The cast, a senior-led 27 strong, responded with a tremendous effort, Kerr said. Translating Shakespeare's play from page to stage meant condensing the script without replacing key words or influencing interpretations, he said.
"Shakespeare is an absolute genius in his word choices," Kerr said.
Shakespeare's tale of Prospero's Island is theatrical and unfolds in a series of spectacles, with exotic, supra-human and sometimes invisible characters that the audience can see but other characters cannot. The Bard composed a play that's multi-sensory theater, replete with sound and music that enhances the sights of the play and its complex script.
The student cast has embraced the challenging roles.
"It's hard to memorize some of the words because obviously we don't use them every day, so that's been tricky, but it's been fun," said Valerie Troccoli, who plays Sebastiana.
For senior Aly Bonwell, "The Tempest" marks her third Shakespearean play.
"It's a lot of fun," said Bonwell, who plays Antonia. "I play the villain this time ... it's all evil, so it's a little bit more acting.
"The language, I love it."
• Production: The Auburn High School Actors' Guild presents Shakespeare's classic, "The Tempest"
• Performances: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday, Saturday
• Venue: Auburn Performing Arts Center, 700 E. Main St.
• Tickets: $10 general admission, $5 students, seniors, military, and available at the door.
• Cast: Anthony Conley-O'Donnell (Prospero); Troy Green (Caliban); Elena Marquez (Ariel); Anita Johnson (Miranda); Tara May, Emily Moren and Eliana Medina (nymph, sprite); Yulenni Venegas and Shawna Holzworth (mariner, nymph); Almayeli Morales Liera (Iris, puppeteer); Kristin Durrant (Ceres, puppeteer); Sarah Farrell (Juno, puppeteer); Jason Velasco (Alonso, King of Naples); Bradley Le (Ferdinand); Keishawna Smith (Trinculo); Jordan Kirk (Stephano); Aly Bonwell (Antonia); Valerie Troccoli (Sebastiana); Kyle Orsini (boatswain, reaper, wolf); Marco Garcia (shipmaster, wolf); Tyler Hudgens and Brandon Hopkins (mariner, reaper); Beau Huhn ((mariner, reaper, wolf); Katy Herrmann (Gonzalo); Katie Briones (Francesca); Maranda Garner (Adriana); Jayce Allen (Lord to the King).
• Support team: Hannah Nys (stage manager); Anni Kamola (poster design); Jeanine Bartelt (costume design); John Bartelt (set design). Orginal music by Oregon Shakespeare Festival composer Todd Barton