So it was fitting that rainy skies on October 19 postponed the third annual Saturday in the Park, presented by Kentucky Shakespeare in partnership with Councilman David James. Though rescheduling is always a challenge for attendance and a brisk cold replaced rainy skies, Central Park came to life on Saturday with performances by Kentucky Shakespeare, local artistic institutions with a flare for the Bard and a sparse but enthusiastic showing of community supporters.
Kentucky Shakespeare Producing Artistic Director Matt Wallace emceed throughout the day, keeping spirits high and mingling with attendees. Kentucky Shakespeare presented a series of programs from its educational division, giving attendees a look at the Shakespeare experience students in 120 counties around the state receive.
Chelsea Skalski facilitated Bard Buddies, a program in which the youngest kids act out “Hamlet” as she tells the story and introduces them to Shakespeare’s language. The energetic duo of Megan Massie and Tony Milder presented the epic “Hamlet” in a style suited for young audiences. The play, which can run up to four hours at its full length, was condensed to an hour with rapid costume changes, puppetry and modern language exposition. Pulling the kids into the action at some key moments kept the momentum going and the youngsters in the audience (and their highly amused parents) laughing and applauding.
Massie and Milder later returned with a presentation of Inspecting Shakespeare, discussing character archetypes using scenes from “Hamlet,” “Macbeth” and “Richard III.” The duo kept the chilly audience engaged and nimbly navigated a wide range of questions and attention spans.
But Shakespeare didn’t only come from the pros. Students from Lincoln Performing Arts School, Youth Performing Arts School and Walden Conservatory demonstrated Shakespeare’s prominence in local arts curricula. Lincoln students performed a spirited rendition of the Witches Cauldron scene from “Macbeth.” YPAS students Curtis Lipsey and Chloe Bell reduced the Scottish Play to four simple scenes illustrating the rise and fall of the titular couple, giving commanding performances guided by director/instructor Brian Hinds. Walden’s Street Shakespeare team performed a broad selection of monologues via the clever premise of a rap battle.
The entertainment went beyond Elizabethan bounds as a a plethora of sideshow acts created a true Renaissance Fair atmosphere. Squallis Puppeteers sent some human-sized wildlife to roam the park and interact with guests. The Highland Chamber Players began the day with string selections from the annex building adjoining the amphitheater, while Hog Operation provided live bluegrass from the stage. Singer-songwriter Kimberly Alana played a soulful set of originals and covers. Fire dancer Aloha Firefly performed solo and to the accompaniment of the Rannyagzoo Ukelele Duet, also known as Greg and Abigail Maupin of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble. The Rascals of Ragtime brought the day to a close with upbeat bluegrass from the C. Douglass Ramey Ampitheater boards. A bouncy slide, balloon animals and magic tricks by Cody Comet and face painting by Kid Canvas made for a fun day for all ages.
Despite the cold, Saturday in the Park was a fun and lively day for all, a celebration of Louisville’s theatre community and Kentucky Shakespeare as a flagship institution charting its way to an exciting future.
“Les Miserables” an Ambitious Smash at Centerstage
One of the most talked-about shows in Louisville right now is “Les Miserables,” the wildy popular musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo, presented by Centerstage at the Jewish Community Center. This classic tale, set in Revolutionary France and made into a feature film last year featuring a star-studded cast including Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, is epic in every sense of the word.
Performance rights have only recently became available to regional and community theaters, and Centerstage Artistic Director John Leffert leapt at the chance to produce it. Centerstage’s production matches the scale of the work – a $40,000 budget, elaborate costumes, and a rotating stage pair with such soaring songs as “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More” make this a spectacle in every sense.
Tickets are on sale now and by all accounts are a hot commodity. Call 459-0660 or visit the front desk at the Jewish Community Center, 3600 Dutchmans Lane, to secure yours today.
Todd Zeigler graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism and a minor in drama. Those two pursuits have pretty much dictated his professional life ever since. A veteran actor, director and playwright who has had the privilege to work with many fine local theatre companies, he is currently the Artistic Director of The Alley Theater and a contributing editor to Broadwayworld.com.
Photos Courtesy of HOLLY STONE