With Shakespeare on the Horizon, Honky-Tonking and Magical Thinking Continue

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on February 27, 2015

This year’s Shakespeare offering, Measure for Measure — not unlike last year’s Much Ado About Nothing — is not part of the high school curriculum.

When I was growing up, we had three years of Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice. I was in a parochial all-boys Catholic high school, so The Merchant of Venice replaced Romeo & Juliet, just to prevent us boys from having any prurient thoughts. To make certain, we skipped the Brutus and Portia scene in Julius Caesar.

We’ve been producing Shakespeare annually here at the Roxy Regional Theatre since 1986, and I’m proud to say we are the only theatre in Tennessee to do so. We don’t always present the plays of Shakespeare that students are required to read, as we have done so often in the past: Julius Caesar (twice), Romeo & Juliet (four times), Macbeth (four times), etc. However, much is to be gained from seeing any of the Bard’s master works live on stage. Someone said once, “Shakespeare said nothing new, but, oh, how beautifully he says it.”

Our director for Measure for Measure, Chris Davis, is one of the founders of Memphis’ Bluff City Shakespeare. He has had many Roxy credits on his resume from our early days, and Chris appeared in our first foray into the world of the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, back in 1986.

I believe, as does Chris, that the plays are better served and seem less foreign and distant when presented in current attire or, rather, modern dress. You ask a lot of a student to understand the strange clothing of Elizabethan costumes or, worse yet, when some overly creative director chooses to place the plays in other times and stranger places.

I have often said that the gods lift up the next person they are going to throw down. Case in point: I was checking out at Publix when the checker said, “I know you and your partner. My wife and I go to the Roxy and like just about everything we’ve seen.” I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I asked, “What didn’t you like?” He replied, “The Christmas Carol.” “Oh!” I responded, considering I had adapted it and was also in it.

On the Roxy’s mainstage, the “Angels” (Jama Bowen, Corinne Bupp and Kristina Wilson) continue to honky-tonk with the support of a superb stage band — headed up by Tom Thayer on piano with Jarrod Jackson on guitar, John Waddle on bass and Thad Wallus on drums — and, in doing so, bring unadulterated musical pleasure and comic joy to all who are aficionados of classic country music. Honky Tonk Angels continues on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, through March 7.

Upstairs in theotherspace, my favorite actress and best friend, Leslie Greene, enacts the one-woman show of Joan Didion’s self-adapted bestseller, The Year of Magical Thinking. The final performances are Monday and Tuesday, March 2 and 3, at 7:00pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

Previous post:

Next post: