Sunday, July 4, 2010

Show #32 "Othello" with Theatre Artists Olympia

For the past two summers, Randy and I have enjoyed the art at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR. We are going yet again later this month. Can't wait to see their array of impressive productions and very impressive actors.

But, as a "warm up" to our now annual trek to Ashland, I decided it was time to see some local talent shake their Shakespearean booty. I heard through the Facebook grapevine that this particular production was terrific. The grapevine was correct.

Theatre Artists Olympia (TAO) is a company that is unfamiliar to me. But Randy and I are acquainted with some of the folks associated with this show, so the experience was new, yet still felt familiar.

These folks did just about everything right, from my perspective.

First, they chose one of Shakespeare's more compelling plays. This "Othello" was set in 1960's America, where racial tension and unrest were part and parcel to the times. Updating the setting of the play gave it a fresh perspective and approach that I enjoyed.

Second, the show was cast very well. With only one exception, all the actors filled their character's shoes perfectly. There was even one actor who was way too young to play his role, but he still worked out well. I was so pleased to see (although I already knew this) that you don't have to go to the OSF to see good Shakespearean acting.

Third, the staging and the costuming were spot on. I took slight exception to only one costume choice I saw that evening, but every other aspect of the direction worked well in my eyes.

Fourth, TAO was quite fortunate to be able to use the theatre space occupied by the Olympia Little Theatre. This was a small house (seating perhaps 100 at the most?) with a three-quarter thrust arrangement. The venue is intimate and well designed. This was also our first visit to this facility. What a great place for a theatre company to perform!

Lastly, they charged only $12 dollars for admission. Good theatre at an affordable price. It doesn't get any better than that. Bravo TAO!

Oh yes, I guess there is one other thing. After the actors took their final curtain call, one of the young men in the cast stepped forward to make a short speech. He walked up to a young lady sitting in the front row, took her hand and brought her on stage.

You can guess what happened next. He took out an engagement ring, got down on one knee and asked this lady to marry him. Thankfully, she said yes. We burst into loud applause.

You couldn't have asked for a better ending to that evening. I don't think the pros in Ashland can top that.

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