June 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

‘Shakespeare’s Shorts’ long on tragedies’ comedy

Jim Tracy as Thisbe mourns the death of Pyramus, played by Jim Dove, during Stage Left’s Sunday production of “Shakespeare Shorts.” Narrator Chuck Peery watches from the background. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

MEDINA — Stage Left Theatre Company took William Shakespeare’s tragedies and made them hilarious during weekend performances of “Shakespeare Shorts.”

Jennifer Dove, executive director of the nonprofit community theater, said that wasn’t the plan. She had hoped to put on a full production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” but didn’t have enough qualified actors.

“We had such a poor turnout with auditions that we had to go to Plan B,” Dove said.

Dove trimmed and edited scripts of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies: “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” to create her own comedy of errors.

In a running gag through “Romeo and Juliet,” the cast acted as though Dove’s husband, Jim, was pulled into the show at the last minute to fill in for a missing cast member.

Jim Dove proceeded to play Romeo as a buffoon, losing his script, getting his lines wrong and taking a break to eat a bag of chips with the audience.

Needless to say, as a lover, this Romeo was a bust — Juliet, played by Rachel Spetrino, refuses to kiss him.

More than 400 people attended the three weekend performances despite rain forcing the show indoors Friday.

On Saturday night, the weather was dry, colder, and about 200 people came out. Sunday afternoon’s performance drew a crowd of about 130 people.

Stage Left has returned to Public Square after a two-year hiatus. The company, which started in 2004, was shut down for two years after Dove’s sister and stage manager, Susanne Betz, died of cancer. The “Shakespeare Shorts” were dedicated to her.

Dove said a typical Saturday evening performance used to bring a crowd of about 500. In past years, the shows were in mid-August, but this year, that month was booked with various festivals put on by Main Street Medina.

“It’s been a challenge, but we’re happy to be back on the square,” Dove said.

Dove is already working with the city to come back next year with her planned production of “Taming of the Shrew.”

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.