TUPELO – Pied Piper Playhouse is having fun with a play that’s more than 400 years old.
A cast of middle and high school students is tackling Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” this weekend.
Though the story has been shortened and updated, it’s still full of iambic pentameter and Shakespeare’s wit and famous lines.
“It’s about a rich man who has two daughters – one is mean as a yard dog and the other one is sweet. He won’t let the sweet one get married until the mean one gets married,” said director Jimmy Grisham.
The cast worked all through the holiday break with Grisham’s son, Jamey, a professional actor now based in New York. Jamey gave the students acting tips and suggested the cast all wear similar outfits: jeans, gray shirts and boots.
“We wanted them to concentrate on the material, not the costumes,” Grisham said.
Auburn McCormick, 17, a junior at Saltillo High School, has the pleasure of being the mean-spirited Kate.
“She’s awful,” she said. “She really is a shrew. I’ve never had a part like her before. But I’m having fun.”
Kate’s suitor is Petruchio, played by 16-year-old Tupelo High School junior Noah Cox. Petruchio gets paid to woo Kate by her father, but the young couple makes connections through their differences.
“He’s all about the money,” Cox said. “He’ll do anything to make money, including making himself look stupid to get what he wants.”
Cox is no stranger to Shakespeare; he played the title role in Pied Piper’s production of “Hamlet” last year.
“It’s very fun to perform Shakespeare. It can be very challenging, but it’s more fun. They’re timeless,” he said. “‘Hamlet’ was very psychological and very dark and very angry, but this one is light-hearted and silly. It’s an all-around good change of pace.”
It’s a work of Shakespeare, but Grisham said it’s suitable for all ages.
“It’s written for teenagers,” he said. “It’s a really good show.”
• On stage
What: Pied Piper Playhouse presents “The Taming of the Shrew”
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Milam Auditorium, Tupelo
Cost: $5/students, $7/adults
Info: (662) 678-2844
• “The Taming of the Shrew” cast: Kate Burleson, Scott Chumley, Noah Cox, John Doorenbos, Noah Hunt, Nathan Jones, Mary Clair Kelly, Auburn McCormick, Meredith McLaurin, Madison Nanney, Regan-Clair Plunkett, Molly Ray, Chanler Sample, Shannon Shepherd, Tyler Swinney, Victoria Wise, Ashley Witcher, Emma Witty
Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal