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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Local Lady's Theatrical Impressions

I've often thought that the theatre is a place where grown ups remember how to play and where the younger generation are instilled with what could otherwise be a lost art of story telling. In theatre, everyone can pretend and make a story real- by acting and by believing. My first live show was The Chronicles of Narnia, a local production at the Richmond Civic Theatre. It inspired in me what has thus far been a lifelong love and soft spot for theatre. The Richmond Civic Theatre has been operating since 1940. The building Murray Theatre, originally a house of vaudeville in 1909, itself is quite a gem. The seating is cozy. The stage is magical. It is RCT's mission to engage, entertain, educate and inspire both their audiences as well as their participants. RCT is volunteer and membership driven. Although they are not "big city" or "professional theatre" their quality and enthusiasm are legendary. We are extremely fortunate, in Richmond, to not have to go far to experience (as a spectator or particpant!) professional, quality theatrical performances.

On Thursday evening, I attended an open rehearsal of Studio 10's production of Shakespeare's Tempest. It gave me a chance, not only to see the show but to meet two of the young Thesbians previously interviewed in connection to the show: the director, Joshua Robinson, as well as the light technician Andy Darr. Unfortunately, I missed the composer who had not yet made it to town.

What was the show like?

It was truly an immersive experience. The audience was actually invited to sit themselves on stage, which brought you into the epicenter of the action. It was the most interactive and innovative of shows. Imagine steering wheels, squirt guns, personified ocean waves, bawdy songs and silly love scenes. The score melted chronological time and kept complementing the changing moods as the scenes progressed. The guitar sounded most modern, Bronson was inspired by 90's rock. The use of wind instruments added touches of the ancient, nature and whimsy which complemented the weathered marine set design and the tempestuous action.

The casting was perfection. Prospero (T. J. Rivard), the father figure, sported the beard, the magic cloak and alternated between gentile fondness and fierce protectiveness. His daughter, the heroine, Miranda (Allison Giles) was aptly naive and lovely. Ariel, played impeccably by Beth Anne Darr, was the quintessential Ariel: all at once fiery, sparkly blue & mischievous. It was as if the Ariel I had pictured when reading the Tempest many years ago had sprung to life along with a tribe of glittering spirit beauties. Calaban (Mark Edwards),  the "monster-slave", brought new dynamics to his character who did not appear to be only monstrous and comical. His voice was sonorous and his beastly apparel could not hide a nobler interior, even despite his assertion that language only taught him "to curse". Stephano (Paula Werle) and Trinculo (Kim Dearing) provided comedic relief as the king's butler and his sidekick enjoying their delusions of grandeur. Jennie Kiffmeyer, a long time Thesbian whose parents founded the company in charge of this production has played now every part in the Tempest. An interesting side story in coming full circle. Her experience is to her credit and evident in her clear enunciation and crisp performance as Alonso, King of Naples.

The play was well balanced with every desirable flavor of story: comedy, tragedy, quarrel and tension, romance and resolution. It's always a treat to see the words of Shakespeare come to life. Although the language may be dated and difficult for some to follow, most people agree that Elizabethan England was a time that the English language enjoyed a particular zenith. However, all due credit for this event goes to the cast, technicians and artists who put forth astonishing talent and effort for without them the great bards' words would be left inanimate on a page.

The lighting, set design, costuming and attention to each detail made the Tempest unforgettable. The show left my husband and I hungry for more performances!

Well done Studio 10!

Studio 10 Site

Special thanks to Raymond and Sharon Ontko for sponsoring this event. Gratitude also to Beth Anne Darr, the show's producer and exemplary Ariel for inviting the Local Lady! <3

Craving some imagery? Check out Jim Hair's Flickr account. A savvy photographer with Richmond ties was on hand to document the show!

Think theatre could be your cup of tea? Watch for casting calls and future performances at our local theatre's Facebook page!

Richmond Civic Theatre Group Page


  1. We saw it from the balcony, and even though we weren't right on stage, it was still a FANTASTIC performance! It did make my friends and I want to go and re-read the play, a good thing to do before taking in any Shakespeare.

  2. I bet the dramatic lighting looked fantastic from that view. Glad to hear you enjoyed the show too! :)

  3. Alsono/Jennie Kiffmeyer here...it was wonderful having you in the audience, Local Lady! We had a blast putting on the show and getting to live in that world for even a little while with the audience. One point of clarification, however: I confess that my parents had nothing to do with putting together this smart troupe of talented actors and crew. I also have never been in The Tempest before, let alone played every role. :) This "story" was part of our pre-show shenanigans in which I played the character of Ruth, the grande dame of the Barnstorming Bard Players. Each actor developed a backstory as part of an improv exercise. Sorry for the confusion--though I imagine that Ruth will be very pleased when she learns of your post!
    See you around Richmond.

  4. Perhaps RCT should display Cautionary Improv signs when such shenanigans are in the works, this Local Lady slipped! ;)

    Thanks for the clarification! With theatre, anything is plausible!