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Review: THE WINTER'S TALE at Gamut Theatre

FREE Shakespeare in the Park through June 18th

Review: THE WINTER'S TALE at Gamut Theatre

The Winter's Tale is believed to be one of Shakespeare's later works, first appearing in published form in 1623. The play begins with a heart-wrenching drama between Leontes King of Sicily, Polixenes King of Bohemia, and Hermione Queen of Sicily. The first part of the show explores the ways in which lives and relationships are torn apart when Leontes becomes paranoid about Hermione's relationship with the King of Bohemia. It is a dark and tragic storyline. The second part of the story (which takes place 16 years later) is, in contrast, light, witty, and comedic. The tale ends with a heartwarming reunion of friends and family, filled with forgiveness, redemption, and magic. Gamut Theatre, in partnership with Narcisse Theatre Co., presents The Winter's Tale as its 29th FREE Shakespeare in the Park at Harrisburg's Reservoir Park. The show runs through June 18th.

Director Clark Nicholson and the rest of the production team have done a wonderful job of staging this show for an outdoor venue. The music and lighting help to set the scene and heighten the emotion of the story. It's particularly magical when the natural setting of the park matches the mood of the show, as it did when this reviewer saw the performance on June 15th-the wind picked up at just the right times to fit perfectly with the action on stage.

Many theatre groups have been dealing with illness among cast and crew, resulting in cancelled or postponed performances or parts being played by other actors. This production is among those that have had to work around cast illness, and, on the evening of June 15th, the parts of Antigonus and Polixenes were performed by different actors. This did not in any way diminish the energy and flow of the performance, and all of the actors deserve a round of applause for taking these changes in stride.

The entire cast brings energy and emotion to the performance. They use their body language and facial expressions in such a way that even those not as familiar with Shakespeare's writing are able to follow the storyline. F.L. Henley, Jr. takes on the role of Leontes, which he presents with intensity and passion. Erika Eberly's Hermione matches Henley's strength as she reacts to the false accusations and professes her love for Leontes and their growing family. Camillo and Paulina, played by Christopher Ellis and Jenni Chavis, try to convince Leontes that he is not thinking clearly and not to go through with his punishments. Ellis and Chavis both interact wonderfully with the other actors on stage as their characters try to bring a voice of reason to the King's paranoid mind.

As the first act ends and then moves into the second act, the mood shifts. We meet a Shepherd and his son, portrayed by Jeff Wasileski and Josh Miccio, who find and take in Hermione's baby girl Perdita to live with them in Bohemia. Wasileski and Miccio, along with Joel Colvin as the wily Autolycus, are hilarious. Their verbal banter is delightful, as is their physical comedy. This much-needed levity sets the scene for the audience to meet Perdita (daughter of Hermione and Leontes), performed by Sydney Crutcher, and Florizel (the son of King Polixenes), played by Jimmy Kohlmann. Crutcher and Kohlmann are adorable as the newly betrothed couple, and the audience cannot help but root for them as they escape to Sicily when Polixenes denounces his son for marrying someone below his station. The audience watches with bated breath as Florizel and Perdita meet Leontes, and the story does not disappoint-relationships are mended as the characters find remorse, forgiveness, and redemption.

One of the best things about Gamut's Shakespeare in the Park is the sense of community that fills the audience. Many audience members have made Shakespeare in the Park an annual tradition, so come on out to Reservoir Park for The Winter's Tale and then keep an eye on the upcoming shows at®id=194&articlelink=

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