TAMING OF THE SHREW Begins at Stage West Tonight

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Call it The Bachelorette: Padua. Baptista is looking to marry off his two daughters. He knows he will have no trouble with Bianca - but older daughter Kate is quite another matter. And that's where the fun begins in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, beginning its run at Fort Worth's Stage West tonight, February 21.

Bianca is not lacking in candidates for her hand - she's young, beautiful, and sweet. Kate, on the other hand, is unwilling simply to be handed off to the highest bidder. The prospect of being forced to choose from a succession of unworthies is unthinkable, and she uses her formidable wit and sharp tongue to keep everyone away. But then she meets Petruccio, who seems undaunted by her temperament. And an epic battle of wits begins.

In the meantime, Lucentio has fallen in love with Bianca. But he must first find a way to woo her, and then prove himself worthy to her father, and that sets in motion a hilarious chain of disguises which must then be untangled. It all winds up with a post-wedding celebration for all the couples, featuring Kate's now-controversial speech about submission to one's husband. Has she really been "tamed"? Or is it all for show?

Director Jim Covault's approach to the play will use the Induction, featuring Christopher Sly and the play within the play. And he's doing it all with a cast of just five, who will be switching roles and genders throughout. The result will be enormously entertaining for all audience members.

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, allegedly on April 23, 1564, to John Shakespeare, a glover and leather merchant, and Mary Arden, a landed local heiress. He was the third of eight children in the Shakespeare household-three of whom died in childhood. He was married to Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582, and the couple had three children, Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith.

It is generally accepted that Shakespeare arrived in London around 1588 and began to establish himself as an actor and playwright. By 1594, he was not only acting and writing for the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later called the King's Men), but was a managing partner in the operation as well. With Will Kempe, a master comedian, and Richard Burbage, a leading tragic actor of the day, the Lord Chamberlain's Men became a favorite London troupe, patronized by royalty and made popular by the theatre-going public. Before Shakespeare's time, no playwright had enjoyed enough acclaim to see his works published and sold as popular literature in the midst of his career. His success allowed him to retire in comfort to Stratford in 1611. He allegedly died on his birthday, April 23, 1616, leaving behind a body of work unlikely ever to be equaled in Western civilization.

Jim Covault is directing a talented cast who are each playing a primary role as well as several others. Allison Pistorius, last seen at Stage West as Brooke/Vicki in Noises Off, and most recently seen as Nancy Holmes in When We are Married at the Denver Center Theatre, will play Kate. Chris Hury, applauded for his work as Alan in the Dallas Theater Center production of God of Carnage, will play Petruccio. Playing Bianca is Katherine Bourne, who appeared at Stage West as the hapless Geraldine in What the Butler Saw, while Mark Shum, most recently seen as Clive in See How They Run at Circle Theatre, will appear as Tranio. Jake Buchanan, whose roles include Richard in Ah, Wilderness! and Bill in All in the Timing at the University of Oklahoma, will play Lucentio.

The set will be designed by Jim Covault, with lighting by Michael O'Brien. Costume design will be again be handled by Michael Robinson and Dallas Costume Shoppe, who have provided costumes for several Stage West shows, most recently Gabriel and She Loves Me. Lynn Lovett will handle set décor and props.

The Taming of the Shrew will preview tonight, February 21 at 7:30 and Friday, February 22 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, March 24. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, February 23.

Ticket prices range from $28 to $32, with discounts for preview performances, and for students and seniors. Pay What You Can performances will be Sunday, February 24 and Thursday, March 1. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary), and all Friday nights after February 22 will feature the $39 Prix Fixe Special. Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.

Pictured: Chris Hury & Allison Pistorius. Photo Credit: Buddy Myers.

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