Shakespearean production ‘a whole new experience’ for Frontier pupils

  • Junior Patrice Moriarty as Gonzalo in a scene from Frontier Regional School’s production of “The Tempest.” Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Emily Woods as Prospero, Kali Berthiaume as Caliban and Sofia Hebert as Miranda in a scene from Frontier Regional School’s production of “The Tempest.” Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Sofia Hebert as Miranda, Emily Woods as Prospero, Eva Howard as Ariel and Oliver Cox as Ferdinand in a scene from Frontier Regional School’s production of “The Tempest.” Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • A scene from Frontier Regional School’s production of “The Tempest.” Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2022 5:08:50 PM
Modified: 12/1/2022 5:06:27 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Hit the high seas and experience a story of magic and tragic comedy as Frontier Regional School students take on the roles of castaways in “The Tempest” this weekend.

Frontier’s theater students are getting their first taste of William Shakespeare on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Building off the spring production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” Director Gian DiDonna said he is challenging his young cast — with only six upperclassmen in total — to really “put the focus on language” as they wade through Shakespeare’s sometimes-difficult-to-understand English.

“It is very difficult and it’s proven to be a challenge, but a lot of the students have surprised us,” DiDonna said. “I’ve really put the emphasis … to focus on language and the story, and the rest will come.”

Written in the early 17th century, “The Tempest” is set on a deserted island after the sorcerer Prospero conjures up the eponymous tempest to cast away his brother, Antonio, who usurped Prospero from his position as the Duke of Milan. On the island, Antonio, his family and his retinue are separated by Prospero’s magic and must regroup.

DiDonna, who hinted in the spring that “The Tempest” would be his fall choice, said he chose the play because it is “the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays” and brings together a wide variety of theatrical components from the complexity of the opening shipwreck, all the way through the use of magic and song.

“I love Shakespeare because it’s such rich material and I want them to have that experience,” DiDonna said. “It’s a pretty complete piece in that regard.”

Leading the way as Prospero in her first lead role is freshman Emily Woods, who said the production has been challenging, but rewarding for her and her classmates.

“It’s a whole new experience,” Woods said of the cast’s newfound familiarity with the works of Shakespeare. “It’s going to be great when it comes together.”

Woods said she took part in last year’s production of “The Outsiders” and has had a wonderful time digging into such a complex role. She said the audience will be surprised by the comedy of the production and will be able to relate to some truly “heartfelt” moments throughout.

Junior Patrice Moriarty, who has worked with her fellow upperclassmen to help the young cast, takes on the role of Antonio’s courtier, Gonzalo. Moriarty said DiDonna’s emphasis on language has opened up a whole new world that differs from any other production they’ve taken on.

“We’re learning this whole new language,” Moriarty said of Shakespeare’s often outdated vernacular. The challenge, she added, comes from how “active” Shakespeare wanted actors to be, along with the many different ways the work can be interpreted, joking that “it’s not like you can ask him” how a role should be played or a line should be delivered.

Sophomore Mason Smith has been cast as Sebastian, the brother to Alonso, king of Naples. Smith said the experience has been quite a “roller coaster” since the beginning, but he and his castmates have grown so much in the months of rehearsals.

“We have come so far,” Smith said. He added that the segmented nature of the play, which sees several different groups of characters acting independently of one another, has been a “unique” twist on the ensemble plays they’ve done in the past. His strategy in tackling the play has been to “focus on myself and my scene partners, making sure our scenes are as good as they can be, and encouraging others to do so.”

“The Tempest” washes ashore in South Deerfield Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The cast will put on the matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, children and seniors, and can be purchased with cash or check. Doors open an hour before showtime.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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