Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks

The Taming of the Shrew

July 29

August 17, 2012

in neighborhoods across Chicago

by William Shakespeare
Adapted and staged by Rachel Rockwell

Critical Acclaim

“Highly recommended! Chicago Shakespeare Theatre kicked off its first summer season of free Shakespeare in the Parks program with a high-energy, condensed version of "The Taming of the Shrew" ideal hybrid of traditional and contemporary sensibilities. Kevin Depinet’s set is a model of beauty and simplicity, with a painted curtain forming the proscenium. Jacqueline Firkins’ lavish, richly hued Renaissance era costumes are the real stars. And composer Kevin O’Donnell’s brief bursts of music, with their hip and clever mix of Elizabethan and rock riffs, hit the spot.”

“A remarkable new initiative: a Shakespearean production from a first-class company designed to remove two of the most formidable barriers to unleashing the Bard on all Chicagoans. The first of those obstacles is money, so the show is free (that's mostly thanks to the Boeing Corp., the major sponsor). The second obstacle is place, so Chicago Shakespeare Theater is taking the show to the neighborhoods, staging this 75-minute version of "The Taming of the Shrew" in verdant Chicago Park Districts parks everywhere from Tuley to Humboldt, Dvorak to Ridge, Frank J. Wilson to Welles. And it's quite an impressive set up—the mobile theater, which unfolds from a vehicle, features an Italianate setting from Kevin Depinet replete with backdrops, a fountain and interior lights. There's a full costume design from Jacqueline Firkins and an original score from Kevin O'Donnell. It's simple enough to evoke the desired sense of an afternoon in the park in the company of traveling players, but big enough to attract attention and let people know that they're not watching a bunch of ragtag thespians but a project by one of the leading classical companies in the country. All in all, it's about as cool as idea as you can imagine.”

“Recommended! This outdoor production soars. Director Rachel Rockwell has cut Shakespeare's comedy down to about 90 minutes, and what results is a funnier, faster-paced, more romantic work. Ratcliff's Katherina is strong and difficult, smart and sexy, and so full of power and rage that she becomes a force of nature. Matt Mueller's milder yet no-less-eccentric Petruchio makes a great romantic foil. He and the shrew actually seem to fall in love—and when they kiss, sparks fly”

“Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has a reputation for high-quality productions, but those performances rarely venture outside of Navy Pier, where the company is located. Not so with this summer's staging of The Taming of the Shrew, adapted and directed by Rachel Rockwell. Here are six reasons to grab your lawnchairs and head to the parks this summer: 1) Shrew’s simplified, but not simplistic, 2) It's funny, 3) The play rocks, 4) It's right on your doorstep, 5) You haven't seen Shakespeare until you've seen it outdoors, and 6) Time is running out!”

    It seems that there has been an awakening in Chicago regarding the arts, and how they can make a difference in people’s lives. This production of The Taming of the Shrew is a condensed version of the original, but that does not lessen the impact of Shakespeare alfresco—the way it was originally produced. Each member of this extraordinary cast has the meter and style of Shakespeare down to a science. They are perfect for introducing Shakespeare to a young audience. Kids in the audience are able to get the nuances because this adaptation is not dumbed down.”

“Chicago Shakespeare Theater approached acclaimed local director Rachel Rockwell more than a year ago to propose a stunning new project: a "Shakespeare in the Parks" tour of Chicago for her Shakespearean directing debut production, "The Taming of the Shrew." It's a thrilling project for any lover of family theater and community art. Comedy, in most guises, is able to transcend difference...and the audience certainly laughed!”

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