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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

The Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC) presents its 26th annual edition of Shakespeare in the Park with a vivid presentation of The Tempest. For the second year running, the event is offered on the wonderful stage located in Federal Hill Commons.

Director Mark Tumey has organized a truly striking production, with a superb cast, full lighting effects and a thoughtfully edited version of Shakespeare’s final play. Tumey’s ability to clearly tell the complicated story through his charges is noteworthy here.

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The cleverly devised ship used for the storm scene which opens NCAC’s “The Tempest”

The play begins with a remarkable depiction of the storm – the eponymous tempest – which sets Alonso, King of Milan, and his companions onto the wizardly Prospero’s island. This is the island where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, had been cast away, along with his daughter Miranda.  He was overthrown and exiled by his treacherous brother, Antonio, who claimed the dukedom, and who is presently part of the King’s entourage. Joining the party are the King’s adviser – Gonzalo, the King’s son – Ferdinand, and Sebastian – Alonso’s false-hearted brother. Also aboard are Stephano, a butler, and Trinculo, a jester – both of whom are fond of strong drink. Prospero employs a sprite named Ariel, to carry out his plan to sort out who is good and who is evil, and to rectify his undoing by his brother. Meanwhile, a witch’s disfigured offspring, Caliban, serves the wizard on the island, albeit with objections, and plots Prospero’s demise.

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Dave Bolander as Propero and Emily Worrell as Ariel in a scene from NCAC’s production of ‘The Tempest”

Dave Bolander leads an awesome cast as Prospero. His marvelous interpretation of the wizard is one of the best I can remember seeing – charging his role with emotional nuance that many players miss in the part. Bolander’s range of stage skills is impressive, especially with regard to Prospero’s many traits, and he creates the magician as a benevolent master of dark arts. His daughter, Miranda, is portrayed by Grace Freese. Ms. Freese does a notable job, and turns in some sweetly comic moments in her role – especially as she first encounters a young man, the King’s son Ferdinand, who is played with an apt conciseness by Chris Bell.

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Prospero’s daughter, Miranda (Grace Freese) and Alonso’s son Ferdinand (Chris Bell) discover each other in a scene from NCAC’s production of ‘The Tempest”

Mr. Tumey was lucky to find the likes of Emily Worrell to take the role of Ariel. She not only was a very suitable sprite, she has a lovely voice – a big requirement in what is Shakespeare’s most musical play.  The monster Caliban is expansively evil as played by Daniel Clymer, who does a fine comic turn when coupled with the drunken duo, Stephano and Trinculo. Eric Dixon plays the former in a wonderfully rounded stage debut, while Jaime Johnson gives the audience his highly-comic vision as jester Trinculo.

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(from left) Eric Dixon as Stephano, Daniel Clymer as Caliban, and Jaime Johnson as Trinculo in a scene from NCAC’s production of ‘The Tempest”

Benjamin Elliott handles the tricky Antonio role with a polished villainous effort, and his partner in crime, Sebastian, is offered by Jakob Winter, who makes his Noblesville Shakespeare debut with an adroit rendition of odiousness. Brian McCarley and Richard Steinberg round out the main cast with their solid portrayals of Alonso and Gonzalo, respectively.

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(from left) Propero’s brother, Antonio (Benjamin Elliott), and Alonso’s brother, Sebastian plot some evil in a scene from NCAC’s production of ‘The Tempest”

Completing the supporting cast, the spritely trio of Shannon Clancy, Mackenkie Gonzalez, and Lucinda Ryan flit about nicely as Ariel’s cohorts, and Guy Grubbs does a fine job as the ship’s Boatswain.

Technical touches by Adrienne Manyard and Monya Wolf (makeup), Norma Floyd (costumes – and especially Caliban’s and the fearsome vision in red!), Geoff Lynch (sound design), Michael Totty and Rob Boland (lighting design), Rob and David Heighway (set design), and David Heighway (props) all added the finishing sheen to the proceedings. And I shall not forget Brenna Whitaker (musical director) for her work with the singers and all the music.

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(from left) Lucinda Ryan, Shannon Clancy, and Mackenzie Gonzalez portray Sprites in a scene from NCAC’s production of ‘The Tempest”

Bottomline: Director Tumey has once again taken all the right steps to make this Shakespeare production of The Tempest a wonderful place to be on these great mid-summer nights.

If you plan on seeing this production, it is free and it is scheduled to be done again tonight (7/28) and Thursday-Saturday evenings next week at around 8:30pm at Federal Hill Commons, on Hwy 32, north of Riverview Hospital. Bring blankets, chairs, snacks, drinks of your choice (wine seemed to be a favorite) and dress for the evening’s possibilities. You may also go to http://www.noblesvillearts.org/shakespeare-in-the-park.html for more information.

  • – Photos by Susan Shaffer
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