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Sacramento Shakespeare Festival continues performances with community support after burglary

8:04 PM, Jul 23, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - It's been a week since this cast of Comedy of Errors players has performed on stage together.

Their performance last week was at 8 p.m., when it was cooler, and they had stage lights.

On Saturday, triple digit heat melted the glue on fake eyelashes; some of the costumes didn't allow for much airflow and they hadn't seen each other or practiced for a week.

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of Sacramento Shakespeare Festival

Not to mention that the lighting had to be determined by the setting sun and not high tech stage lights.

COMMUNITY TRADITION

The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival has been performing the Bard's plays for 27 years. However, Front House Manager Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin still meets people who haven't heard of the festival.

"We've always felt a part of our community. We also feel like we're sort of a best kept secret in Sacramento," DeLappe-Grondin said. "The people that do come out to support us, and our immediate community right round [Land Park] have been absolutely phenomenal."

Last Tuesday, thieves stole nearly $30,000 worth of lighting and sound equipment from the outdoor amphitheater. 

"We don't know who they were; we're not sure what their reasoning was," DeLappe-Grondin said.  "They left us a nasty little note in [the merchandise booth] that said 'F you, I got it all' written on the wall. And that just sort of makes it malicious as compared to just somebody opportunistic trying to steal it and sell it. So we're not really sure what the motive was."

The festival had to cancel last Friday's performance and move up the others from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. so they could be performed under the light of day, like in the days of Shakespeare.

A new mantra was adopted for the rest of the season: the show must go on.

Fortunately, that was easy with the help of the community.

"Actually, I think that we have really been blessed," House Manager April Brown said choking up a little. "Immediately, the community, not just the theater community in Sacramento, but the whole of Sacramento at large just gave us an influx of support. There were so many people here [Friday] and [Saturday]. We sold a ton of tickets online and it looks like there will be a ton of people here [Saturday], which just means so much."

Three days after the theft, the festival raised $3,000 in ticket sales and donations. Ticket prices were decreased from $15 to $10 to attract more people. Some patrons, like Steven, didn't redeem their compensation tickets and opted to pay for $15 tickets.

"[I came] to help benefit the event after all the bad stuff that happened," Steven explained while waiting in line. 

Theater groups in the Sacramento area lent the festival sound equipment for the rest of the performances in the season.

Even with the time change, people were lining up around 4 p.m., two hours before the curtain in 100 degree weather, to stake out their spot in the theater.

"What people I don't think realize about Shakespeare is that the actors actually interact with the audience, the actually talk to the audience," Granite Bay High School English teacher Bernadette Cranmer explained. "So that's what's really exciting about this, is that I'm going to be right down in front and when the actors come out and interact I'll be right there. You get to make eye contact, it's almost like you're part of the show, which is pretty exciting." 

Inside the amphitheater, picnic baskets were set up, bottles of wine were opened and cheese trays were passed around as the audience waited for the show to start.

PANORAMA: Picture of the crowd as they wait for the show

THE PLAY

Half an hour before the show, three white vans pulled up in front of William Land Park amphitheater. The cast, dressed in costumes like in Aladdin and eccentric makeup, quickly emptied the vans and headed back stage.

The festival took the timeless approach to the play Comedy of Errors, the costumes and music set the play in a Turkish market town.

One actress said the silly and zany nature of the play was perfect for the "Circe de Turk" setting.

Comedy of Errors is about two sets of twins crossing paths in the same city after being separated their whole lives. Enter a wife trying to rekindle the passion in the marriage and men owed money and you get hilarious cases of mistaken identity. 

In the festival's cast, the same actor played each twin.

"First when you're looking at the characters, you have two different people in the same show you got to differentiate them, so Tara (who plays the Dormios) and I both had that problem or that challenge" said Kevin Menager, who plays Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse. "It was just a matter of how do you look at them physically, where are they coming from and what can we do vocally to make them different. We started that at the get go, things changed over time, but [the characters] still grew into their own different kind of people. "

Back stage, the actors prepped for their performance: reviewed lines, took out hair rollers, put the finishing touches on makeup and tried to stay cool.

"It was a lot hotter than we've had to deal with," said Mar-y-sol Pasquiers, who plays Luciana. "The closest we've come was tech week, we had a lot of high temperatures, but we worked through it and everybody was amazing." 

In the amphitheater, Turkish music played through the borrowed speakers as the audience waited for the show.

"[Comedy of Errors] is silly and fun nonsense written in beautiful language," Steven said. "This style of theater influenced our slapstick comedies that came out of Hollywood in the 30s and all those mistaken identities situations are used over and over in stage work, so it's a classic." 

"It's easy to put up blocks that you're not going to get Shakespeare because they seem to talk funny," Menager said. "But seeing [the plays] performed, it's so much easier to understand than reading it on the page because the way people emote, the inflexion in their voice, the way they move, it gives the lines sense so you know what's going on. There are some words here and there you may not get, some words here's and there we don't get, but we put intent behind them and it moves the story along. So it's worth coming to see and for this show the fun we have, the slapstick the broad comedy, the costumes, even the music is worth seeing."

After a quick word from organizers filled with thanks and appreciation of support after the theft, the first actor stepped on stage with his drums.

The remaining dates for Comedy of Errors are July 26 & 29 2012 at 6 p.m. Another show running during the festival is King Arthur; its last remaining date is July 27 at 6 p.m.

News10/KXTV

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