OCTA’s ‘Merry Wives’ displays Shakespeare comedy, chaos


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Only one weekend remains to see Shakespeare’s conniving wives plot and successfully deploy a plan to embarrass and humiliate the pompous John Falstaff who plans a devastating plan feather his bed and fill his coffer.

David Martin, director assembled a dynamic cast and with them staged Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in breakneck speed to make the comedy a 1500s version of a modern-day farce. The Shakespearean comedy, not performed in period costumes, sets the story circa the 1980s for a modern twist on the classic.

The story, convoluted to say the least features several plots that tie the story in an unconventional web of mistrust, mistaken identity, love, revenge, and practical jokes. While the merry wives are the spark to the story, the oversized, pompous villain, Falstaff becomes the butt of his own misdeeds.

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“The Merry Wives of Windsor” allows Michael Juncker the opportunity to play a larger than life character, and one of Shakespeare’s most favored for a comedy. As for the wives, the show comes alive with the scenes featuring Tracy Fox and Ellie DeShon. Their scenes are charming, funny, and sharp. They bring to life what has been said for ages…”Shakespeare should be seen, not read.”

Other standouts in the cast include Richard Burt, Scott Shaw, and Meghan Deveroux. The scenes with them always cause the audience to pay close attention to them and experience the fun of the piece as they are catalysts to major parts of the story.

At times, the dialogue is lost as they are speaking too fast or the acoustics fail to pull out their lines. The only real weakness is in a scene at the end where fairies come to torment Falstaff. Although the lines are lost, no problem exists in seeing and understanding what happens on stage.

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Kudos to the entire cast and crew of this endeavor. This version of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” entertains just like the other selections in the OCTA docket do. This production would be a good introduction to Shakespeare for those who shy from such productions. The sets, the actors, and the story come through strongly, so that even high school age would understand–even if they do not follow all the dialogue.

The cast of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (in order of appearance) is: Charles Christesson as Robert Shallow; Charlotte Gilman as Angela Slender; Aaron Roose as Sir Hugh Evans; Ken Schmidt as Master George page; Michael Juncker as Sir John Falstaff; Jessica Franz-Martin as Nym/Sylvia; Quinn North as Pistol/Jack Rugby/John; Darcy Russel as Anne Page; Tracy Fox as Mistress Alice Ford; Ellie DeShon as Mistress Margaret Page; Chelsea Pyle as Simple; Jo Blesdoe-Collins as Host of the Garter Inn; Meghan Deveroux as Mistress Quickly; Richard J. Burt as Dr. Caius; Austin Cable as Fenton; Scott Shaw as Master Frank Ford.

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The Creative team is: David Martin, director and sound designer; DK Evenson, stage manager, Kate Sanders, set design; Chuck Cline, lighting designer; Alison Nickel, costume designer: Valerie Martin, properties design.

“The Merry Wives of Windsor” continues at OCTA for one more weekend. Tickets can be purchased through the Olathe Civic Theatre website. www.http://olathetheatre.org/merry-wives-of-windsor/

Tags: Olathe Civic Theatre Association, OCTA, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” review, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment



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