By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Pied Piper Players is breathing new life into Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
Unusual sets and stage design, new elements and a cast of middle and high school students will make for a fresh take on one of the Bard’s darkest tragedies.
“This is a really special group,” said the director, Jimmy Grisham. “‘Macbeth’ is seldom done with high school kids, but the message is the same: Manipulation will mess you up as bad as the people you’re manipulating.’”
Grisham’s son, Jamey, is a professional actor in New York, and he’s helped co-direct and given advice to the young actors.
He suggested, for instance, that the actors bring in lamps from home, and they use them to light themselves and the stage.
A Pied Piper alum, Roxie Clayton, choreographed a Medieval dance that will be featured in the performance.
This is the third Shakespeare work the company has presented, having previously produced “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Hamlet.” Each of the company’s Shakespeare productions are shortened, teen-friendly versions that help the students more easily understand the material.
Fifteen-year-old Nathan Jones of Saltillo stars in the leading role.
He had a role in last year’s adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew,” so he’s a Shakespeare vet.
“It’s hard to be crazy without being funny,” he said of his character’s descent into madness. “I like to think of him as in his own world.”
Jones has done his research into the role and how other companies have produced the play.
Pied Piper Players’ take on it, he said, will be unique.
“We’re taking a different way than other people have done it before,” he said. “You’ll be surprised.”
DIM THE LIGHTS
• What: Pied Piper Players present “Macbeth”
• When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
• Where: Milam Auditorium, Tupelo
• Cost: $7/adults, $5/students
• Info: thepiedpiperplayers.com
Anna Scott McKinion (First Witch); Ashley Witcher (Second Witch); Victoria Wise (Third Witch); Tyler Swinney (Duncan, Angus); Brad Durbin (Malcolm); Lily-Cate Jones (Donalbain, Young Siward); Ruthann Morgan (Captain, Menteith); Nathan Jones (Macbeth); Landon Craig (Banquo); Kate Burleson (Ross); Auburn McCormick (Lady Macbeth); John Doorenboss (Macduff); Molly Ray (Lennox); Emma McCormick (First Murderer, Siward); Tory Fox (Second Murderer, Doctor, Porter); Leah Barton (Gentlewoman, Servant, Messenger); Regan-Clair Plunkett (Caithness, Messenger)