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Presented in May and June 1989 at the Village Theatre on 22nd Street, Shrew was presented with the usual male roles played by women and the female by men. I had originally concieved the production as a staged reading in the spring of 1988 with the Rogue Readers.  Set loosely in the 1950's, the set featured three revolving triptichs which turned to reveal different locations and featured music by Cole Porter performed by Ella Fitzgerald.

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Denise Dalfo as Petrucia and Tim Zay as Katrino

A very nice review:


by Susan Savitsky

     Imagine, if you will, a world in which only women are leaders in commerce and where prestige, wealth, and power are passed along through a matriarchal network. This is the world in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew as produced by the Quinapalus Theatre Company.
     Although its billing as "a unique reversed-gender production" would suggest so, this is not a Shrew involving cross-gender impersonation. Actresses play the men's roles as women, and actors play the women's roles as men. The characters' names are switched to correspond: Bianca becomes Bianco, Petruchio becomes Petruchia, and so on. References to mothers and women replace all those to fathers and men in Shakespeare's text.
     Despite these complex changes, there is nothing awkward or artificial about this production. Just a few moments into it, the audience can almost forget that Shakespeare envisioned his shrew as a woman. The performers, too, are so comfortable in their roles that they can comment on them, finding puns previously non- existent in Shakespeare's text. One of the funniest moments in the production occurs when Petruchia (Denise Dalfo), hand on her hip, assertively delivers the line, "Crowns in my purse I have and goods at home, / And so to see the world [sic] am come abroad," with an insistence on the syllable division of the last word.
     This production is fulled with many comic touches, some of which are the very clever sight gags executed by the servants. While they dance around preparing the wedding feast, Grumia (Kathleen Brant), Trania (Susan McBrien), and Biondella (Janet Rust) take furtive nips at their mistresses' champagne bottles. Biondella's frenetic speech and acrobatics make her description of Petruchia's wedding costume and horse even funnier. Curtis (John Moss) attempt to warm Grumia not by building a fire but by nonchalantly bringing an electric heater on stage.
     Costume is used effectively in this production, both setting the action in the 1950's and helping to establish character differences. For instance, Bianco (John Touhey) looks like a mild-mannered and well- bred member of the Harvard Club in his crested sportjacket. Katrino (Tim Zay), in T-shirt and jeans, looks a lot like Brando's Stanley Kowalski.
     The women's costumes provide an interesting and ironic counterpoint to the gender reversals. Although the women clearly have the upper hand in the action, their appearance in wide skirts and short- handled pocketbooks conjures up a time when women were definitely not in the dominant role. The women's behavior has a similar effect. While impersonating Lucentia (Kay Rothman), Trania, for example, waves her jewels in front of the jealous faces of her rivals for Bianco. All contenders tend to behave like catty women at a Chippendale's all- male review. These are hardly the actions of self-assured and prominent women.
     These ironies are so strong that they tend to overshadow the actual taming and become, in themselves, the production's primary message. This Shrew is not really about the dominance of one sex over the other because neither sex is completely dominant or subservient. There is nothing hen-pecked about Katrino as he delivers his monologue about how men should be aware of and answer their wives' needs. Having just endured an experience more commonly associated with women, he emerges as a truly sensitive guy.
     A program note provides an important clue to the strategy of this production. According to the note, it presents a woman's world not as a "what if" but, rather, as an "it also is" proposition. By having exaggerated women deliver lines intended for men, the Quinapalus Theatre Company asserts that women (and by implication men as well) are both dominant and subservient
and that it is the coexistence of both qualities in both sexes that makes for their successful interaction.

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(left to right) Susan McBrien as Trania, Kay Rothman as Lucentia, John Touhey as Bianco, Bonnie Kalisher as Baptista Minola, Tim Zay as Katrino, Patricia Denny as Hortensia, Laura Gillis as Gremia and Janet Rust (on the floor) as Biondella

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Kathleen Brant as Grumia and Denise Dalfo as Petruchia

Janet Rust and Kay Rothmanshrew biandella lucentia.jpg (230813 bytes) 

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Denise Dalfo, Kathleen Brant, and Patricia Denny

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John Moss, John Touhey, Kay Rothman, Tim Zay, Denise Dalfo, Bonnie Kalisher, Denni Lee Heiges, Patricia Denny, Laura Gillis, Pier Lisa, Susan McBrien, Kathleen Brant, Janet Rust


Director Tony Rust
Assistant Director Thomas Rice
Stage Manager Gina Andreoli
Lighting Designer/ Scenic Coordinator Peter R. Feuche
Technical Director Anthony Ferrer
Costume Coordinator/ Set Decorations Douglas Hout
Electrics Crew Ali Sherwin
Katrino Tim Zay
Petruchia Denise Dalfo
Bianco John Touhey
Lucentia Kay Rothman
Gremia Laura Gillis
Hortensia Patricia Denny
Trania Susan McBrien
Grumia Kathleen Brant
Baptista Minola Bonnie Kalisher
Curtis, Tailor, Widower John Moss
Biondella Janet Rust
Vincentia Denni Lee Heiges
A Pedant of Mantua Pier Lisa


Back to QUINAPALUS THEATRE COMPANY's Home Page or on to the next show, THREE MEN ON A HORSE