IF YOU GO
■ What: "The Taming of the Shrew."
■ When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1; 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 7-8; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 9; 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13; 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 14-15; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 16.
■ Where: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
■ Admission: $25 ($12.50 side-section seating available Thursdays and Sundays).
■ Phone: 423-267-8534.
■ Website: www.TheatreCentre.com.
■ Friday, Feb. 28: Opening Night Gala (sold out), 8 p.m. curtain
■ Thursday, March 6: Real-time captioning, 7 p.m. curtain
■ Friday, March 7: Q&A with actors and director after performance, 8 p.m. curtain
■ Friday, March 14: Girls Night Out, 8 p.m. curtain
■ Sunday, March 16: Unveiling of life-size statue, "Young Shakespeare," by sculptor Lawrence Holofcener at 5 p.m. on the lawn following final performance at 2:30 p.m.
Director Scott Dunlap will offer a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" in the next Circle Stage production at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre. It opens Friday on the Chattanooga Theatre Centre Circle Stage and runs through March 16.
The last time Dunlap took on a work by Shakespeare, the result was the dramatic and riveting "Mr. & Mrs. M" ("Macbeth"), which won the Theatre Centre's Miss Annie Award for best production in 2012. This time it's a romantic comedy, one of the Bard's funniest.
"I like Shakespeare, and I appreciate a great story," says Dunlap, "but I'm not a purist."
As such, he has no qualms about reimagining Padua as a town like Manhattan's Little Italy and setting it in one of Dunlap's favorite periods, the early 1960s. But even set to the beat of a score of familiar tunes by Louis Prima, Rosemary Clooney and Tony Bennett, the love story remains the same.
"This is really the latest time period you can set a story like this one," he says. "Any later and you're into the women's movement."
"The Taming of the Shrew" is the tale of two sisters. Sweet-tempered daddy's girl Bianca (portrayed by Laura Holland) can have her pick of suitors -- but not until her sister, the acid-tongued Kate (Lizzie Chazen), can be married off. Rising to the challenge is Petruchio (Jim Eernisse), but can he match Kate jab for jab? It plays out as a delirious tangle of masquerades and misdirection that becomes a surprising love story.
"'Doing Shakespeare' sounds elitist," Dunlap says. "But with this production, I want people who think they don't understand Shakespeare just to have fun and enjoy the play. The fact that it's Shakespeare is secondary.
"Chuck Tuttle, our education director, offered a great analogy," Dunlap says. "When we go to the symphony, we don't have to distinguish every note to appreciate the music and understand the emotion. That's the way it is with Shakespeare, because if you get caught up in the language and don't enjoy the play, what's the point?"
"The Taming of the Shrew" had two previous runs in the CTC's 90 seasons: in 1934 and 1966. It is the earliest play in the theater's history to be performed during the anniversary season.
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