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Review: A YORK YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT at TAFE-Theatre Arts For Everyone

Review: A YORK YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT at TAFE-Theatre Arts For Everyone

A modern take on a classic! Fun for all ages!

Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court tells the story of an engineer who somehow ends up in England during the reign of King Arthur.

First published in 1889, this tale has been studied as a satire around themes of the monarchy and the Middle Ages and a humorous critique of many of the promises of the modernization of the Industrial Revolution. The story has been adapted for the stage and screen several times, and this fall audiences can enjoy a brand-new adaptation by York's own Diane Crews! TAFE (Theatre Arts for Everyone) brings A York Yankee in King Arthur's Court: A Modern Take on a Classic to the stage at Phineas Davis school, under the direction of Andrea Unger, through October 23rd.

This adaptation is filled with humor as it explores what might happen if someone from York, Pennsylvania from 1984 landed in King Arthur's kingdom. It opens at a typical high school where auditions for the school play are about to begin. The audience meets Julie and Rose, the school's "mean girls", played by Michaela Wagner and Brynn Walker. Wagner and Walker also portray Noretta and Ondeen, Morgan LeFay's ladies-in-waiting in Camelot. In both of their roles, these young actresses deliver their lines with the perfect attitude.

In this first scene the audience is also introduced to Tamara and Hannah. Hannah is the new girl in school. She's originally from Connecticut, and she's extremely intelligent. Tamara befriends Hannah, but before they can audition for the school play together, Hannah gets knocked out cold by a locker door. The role of Tamara is taken on by Avrie Marteny. Marteny has great comedic timing and keeps the audience laughing throughout the first scene. Caitlyn Mooney takes the stage as Hannah. Mooney is delightful in her role as Hannah. She has wonderful energy and pacing, which keeps the show moving, and her interactions with all of the other characters make the story very believable.

While Hannah is knocked out, she is transported into another time and place, finding herself in Camelot. Pages Aaron and Clarence, played by Isaac Roberts and Levi Schneider, very officially welcome everyone to the castle and announce the King and Queen-Arthur and Guinevere. Randy Riley and Jennifer Mooney are well-matched as the royal couple. They both display the enthusiasm and kindness that folks often associate with the King and Queen of Camelot.

Of course, no Arthurian legend is complete without Lords, Ladies, and Knights. This court includes Marie Allan as Lady Lenore, Chuck Endres as Sir Galahad, Gianmarco Febres as Sir Kay, Hope Lowry as Lady Elizabeth, Vicki Schneider as Sir Dinidan, Beth Spahr as Lady Bernadette, Deb Volker as Sir Sagramour, and Gina Wagner as Lady Cassandra. While there were some opening night jitters, this ensemble group was fun to watch, especially in the scene where Hannah and Merlin show them wonders from the modern world.

Along with the adult members of the court, there are also a number of children running around the castle at Camelot. Lily Ganong, as Francis, joins the ranks of the pages, serving Mordred. Danielle Collison, Gretchen Fair, and Uriel Mercedes are the mischievous trio of Annabel, Dodgette, and Kent. They bring humor and liveliness to every scene that they are in.

Rounding out the cast are Ramael Mercedes as Mordred, Crystal Ganong as Morgan LeFay, Quinton Laughman as Merlin, and Dave Unger as Tortolonius the Tortoise. Ramael Mercedes infuses his character with the perfect blend of ambition and pomposity, but he really shines in the feast scene where he allows himself to get carried away (literally) by the wonder of a bicycle. Crystal Ganong makes a wonderfully wicked Morgan LeFay. Her stage presence makes her character seem larger-than-life, which is perfect for the role of the deceitful, conceited Morgan LeFay. Quinton Laughman has the task of portraying one of the most famous roles in the Arthurian legends-Merlin. Laughman's Merlin is poised, intellectual, and mild-mannered-all the qualities a King could wish for in a trusted advisor. One of the most creative and fun characters in the entire show is Tortolonius, Merlin's tortoise friend. Tortolonius is played by Dave Unger who manages to convey Tortolonius's emotions through his vocal inflections and subtle movements of the tortoise's head. The audience is so entranced by Tortolonius that when he sounds sad the audience responds with an audible "aww".

Director Andrea Unger and her team have done a wonderful job working with the cast to ensure that they projected and delivered their lines clearly while embodying their characters. It is a delight to watch them bring A York Yankee in King Arthur's Court: A Modern Take on a Classic to life. This is a show for audiences of all ages! For show and ticket information, visit®id=194&

From This Author - Andrea Stephenson

Andrea Stephenson’s love of music and theatre was nurtured by her parents. She started performing as a singer and actor in elementary school, and her passion for the performing arts grew thro... (read more about this author)

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