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‘The devils are all here’ and in the details

Right: Dylan Bunten's Stephano offers a drink to Osvaldo Torres' Caliban. Left: Ashton Thomas makes his appearance as Ariel. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Right: Dylan Bunten’s Stephano offers a drink to Osvaldo Torres’ Caliban. Left: Ashton Thomas makes his appearance as Ariel. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Anyone entertaining the idea of going to see McNary High School’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, should plan to see it at least twice.

In addition to performances by two different casts – one traditional and male-dominated, the second gender-swapped with female leads – attendees are almost assuredly going to spend the first hour agog at the set, make-up and props. Even during dress rehearsals, it was hard to focus on the dialogue while simultaneously trying to dissect the various pieces used to create an angelic jet pack: folding fans and two-liter bottles are just the start.

Fortunately, audiences have two weekends to choose from. The play opened Thursday, April 24 and continues Friday, April 25, and May 1 through 3. Curtain time is 7 p.m. for all shows. Tickets are $5. (See cast listings for specific cast dates)

The attention to detail in the technical aspects of the production have upped the ante for the the actors who, to a one, are trying to do the Bard’s play justice.

“I hope that people get the true meaning of the show, and being able to communicate that to the audience is always the biggest challenge. Especially with Shakespeare,” said Dylan Bunten, who plays Stephano in the male-led cast.

The play is Shakepeare’s tale of Prospero, the overthrown Duke of Milan, who plots to restore his daughter, Miranda, to her rightful place in society. It takes place on an island where manipulation and illusion reign.

“It’s a very dense and beautiful story about a man’s moral choice between punishing the people who have wronged him or showing them grace. That’s really cool and I hope it comes across,” said Osvaldo Torres, who plays Caliban, a villainous trickster figure.

Morgan Raymond is Torres’ counterpart in the female-led cast. While the two started with their own interpretations of the character they found working together helped them achieve a deeper understanding of the different ways the role might be played.

“Osvaldo has a more monkey-like interpretation of his physicality with one arm on the ground and one arm loose and moving. I tend to have both arms on the ground and move more slowly,” Raymond said. “It was interesting to look at how much we differed at the beginning and still ended up agreeing on things by the end.”

The make-up alone for Caliban’s character takes close to an hour.

Dorothy Woolford plays Bunten’s counterpart in the female cast. Both are taking cues from Captain Jack Sparrow’s loose swagger in regard to the physical comedy Stefano supplies.

“It’s interesting because the physicality is not what I’m used to, but I can act as childish as I want to. When I realized that, it made it easier,” Woolford said.

Prospero is played by Shyleen Johnson and Christopher Adrian Rodriguez, who purposefully held their portrayals close to the vest and arrived at different and valid interpretations.

“I’m trying to bring out the motherlike qualities. He’s seen as stern and mean all the time and I like being able to go against that and then turn on the mean when he needs it,” Johnson said.

Rodriguez, at first went a little too far in the opposite direction.

“I thought it was a real serious role and Mr. (Dallas) Myers would tell me to lighten up. It’s actually a comedy and one of my aims is to show that there are a lot of jokes,” he said. “We all bring a different vibe to the roles, but this is an impressive show considering we’re teenagers. We’ve put all our hearts into it.”

The result, said Woolford, is that the players would have very different expressions on their faces if they could show their true emotions.

“We would just have huge grins,” she said. “It’s definitely going to look awesome, but everyone has put a lot of work into this, and you can feel it when we come together onstage.”

Traditional Cast: April 25 & May 1, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Prospero: Christopher Rodriguez
Miranda: Jade Rayner
Ariel & Juno: Carina Myrand
Caliban: Osvaldo Torres
Alonso: Brandon Seely
Sebastian: Kyle Hogan
Antonio: Cory Bond
Gonzalo: Trevor Bielaga
Adrian: Nikey Hikes
Francisco: Jesse Harrington
Ferdinand: Nicholas Woolfert
Trinculo: Gabriel Elmore
Stephano: Dylan Bunten
Iris & Master: Jacob Grimmer
Ceres & Boatswain: Nick Neddo

Gender-Swapped Cast: April 24 & May 2, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Prospero: Shyleen Johnson
Miranda: John Bryant
Ariel & Juno: Ashton Thomas
Caliban: Morgan Raymond
Alonso: Serena Dufour
Sebastian: Gloria White
Antonio: Kelli Thompson
Gonzalo: Trevor Bielaga
Adrian: Madelyn Zuro
Francisco: Megan Mitchell
Ferdinand: Emma Blanco
Trinculo: Julia Sjakovs
Stephano: Dorothy Woolford
Iris & Master: Iris Coffee
Ceres & Boatswain: Elise LeDuc

Ensemble (Appearing in all shows)

Sarah Hays, Chelsea Stoffers,Claire Zielinski, Morgan Hoag, Cameron Engle, Adam Nelson, Abe Nelson, Jonathan Hall

Both Casts will appear at the same time on closing night, May 3, 2014 at 7 p.m.