As one of the many songs in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Super Star” asks, “What’s The Buzz?”
In case you’ve not heard Kate Burton, (daughter of the late Richard Burton) is in town playing Prosprera in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, directed by Joe Dowling on the Lowell Davies Festival Stage through July 22nd,
That’s worth all the buzz one can muster. She’s awesome!
With an outstanding cast overall, and with the absolutely magnificent and calculating, deliberate and angry Burton in the ‘drivers’ seat this enchanting “Tempest” takes us all on a magical journey not soon to be forgotten.
|Nora Carroll and Kate Burton|
Burton, with as commanding a presence as one can expect, is front and center on the outdoor Festival Stage designed by award winning Alexander Dodge (“Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder”) with an old run down theatre look.
Worn out theatre seats, old props, ladders, swinging ropes, a theatre balcony, lot’s and lot’s of books and other washed up trash from the ocean define Prospera’s fantasy island home where she was stranded with her daughter Miranda (Nora Carroll) twelve years ago.
Prospera exiled Duke of Milan was usurped of her title by her brother Antonio (Rene Thornton, JR). With the help of Alonso the King (Robert Foxworth), who then took his brothers position as Duke, sent Prospera and her daughter out to sea and most likely had forgotten about them; but women have long memories.
Now twelve years later Prospera uses her magical powers to gain revenge on her enemies as they are caught up in a tempest. She and her mythical spirit, Ariel (Philippe Bowgen a sequenced underwater looking nymph) conjures the storm to bring her enemies straight to her on the island she now rules.
Island dweller- half man half monster- Caliban (Manoel Felciano) chastity belt in lock down, for fear he might do something to Miranda, is another creature Prospera controls on her island. His goal is to escape Prospera’s grip, hers is to keep him under her control. He is a very creepy looking character.
Miranda begs her mother to have mercy on the soon to be shipwrecked passengers and save their lives, but when they land, Prospera now using her sorcerer charms manages to have them scattered and wandering about on the island. As of now she’s not ready to forgive and or forget.
|Sam Avishay and Nora Carroll|
The King thinks his son Prince Ferdinand (Sam Avaishy) has drowned in the storm. Unbeknownst to him, he and Miranda have met and are already smitten. Even though she has to convince her prince charming that her mother’s bark is worse that her bite the two drift off under her mother’s watchful eyes while she tends to other business.
Now with everyone safely on the island, hostages all, the tables are reversed and Prospera is in charge. With lots to think about, her first instinct is revenge. She’s had years to plan and plot and harbor resentment and revenge on those that wronged her. It might make her feel better but what would it do to the mother-daughter love she spent twelve years nurturing?
|Kate Burton, Manoel Felcaino and Nora Carroll|
With Dowling’s staging and Burton in the drivers seat the changes in dynamic from power hungry and vengeful slowly shows an about face. At appropriate moments the decision to seek compassion, and allow mercy to her enemies takes shape.
Miranda knows this but it takes a while for Prospera, with some help from Ariel, to let go of the old and embrace the new. It does take a bit of magic putting some to sleep while the others in wakefulness learn more about what’s playing out on on the island, and that includes a trio of singers singing pop songs to the young couple, dressed in out of this world costumes designed by David Israel Reynoso.
And what would a Shakespeare play be without a couple of drunkards the likes of Stephano (Robert Dorfman) and Trinculo? (Andrew Weems) They play with Caliban in a series of very funny scenes. Caliban who thinks they are gods, and can help him get control back of ‘his’ island is a fright to them, sober or not.
Carroll and Avishy make a perfect young couple in love; she is sweet and he awestruck. Local actor Foxworth plays the part of King with conviction. Prospera’s brother Antonio and the Kings brother Sebastian (Daniel Ian Joeck) are still plotting to overthrow Prospera to no good.
|Phillipe Bowgen (background), Andrew Weens, Robert Dorfman and Manoel Felciano|
And the versatile, Bowgen’s nymph-like Ariel who seems like his feet never touched the ground fit the role to a T. He is and was magically and mythically enchanting as was the entire production.
Using her wizardry to land them all safely on either end of her island, it puts into motion the story behind the story as told by Prospera to her daughter Miranda. That brings us up to date, not in Kansas City but into the islands and recesses of our imaginations.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through July 22nd
Organization: The Old Globe Theatre
Production Type: Drama
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Ticket Prices: Start at $30.00
Venue: Lowell Davies Festival Stage
Photo: Jim Cox