Lansing State Journal/Oct. 19, 2018

Peppermint Creek Theatre tackles challenging Oscar-winner

There’s nothing Peppermint Creek Theatre likes more than a challenge, and they’ve got one with their current of­fering, “Shakespeare In Love.” Chad Badgero, founder and frequent di­rector at the theater, finds himself on stage for this production. “I love it! It reminds me what actors go through and how much fun it is to act.” “The biggest challenge of this show is that it requires a cast of 22”,  Badgero says.

“We’re happy to have George Popovich di­rect this show. He has 30 years experience at Henry Ford College, but he is new to us. He’s doing a great job of getting all of us on the same page in terms of the language, accents, and feeling of script. That’s diffi­cult because we have a cast with actors spanning 10 years of age and some in their 70s.”

“Shakespeare in Love,” of course was a hugely popular Oscar-winning movie from 1998. Chad feels that the movie is filled with romance and angst, with Shakespeare frustrated in finding his next play. The theatrical version is lighter and more loving.

Badgero says, “I love the script. For us at Peppermint Creek, we’re always looking for something that fits our mis­sion and also appeals to our audience. So, this was perfect.”

The key story of the play is Viola (Hannah Feuka) falls in love with Shakespeare (Joe Clark) both as a playwright and a
man and wants to be Juliet in his new play. The problem is that in Shakespeare’s (and also Queen Elizabeth’s) day, no women were allowed on stage, so she dresses up as a guy to get the role. And then the fun ensues.

“Now, we keep a close eye on women in our society as it pertains to power and place and it give us a keen perspective with this play,” says Badgero.

To focus in on the time period, Badgero says that Popovich is excellent at specify­ing costumes and manner and appropriate language to make the most of the era. “Also, the play focuses on “Romeo and Juliet” and it becomes a play within a play. Which gives the it an interesting flavor.”

The stage at Peppermint Creek is not large but it is very high, so there is ade­quate space to build a replica of Shake­speare’s Globe Theater.

Badgero admits that his theater compa­ny is not known for doing much comedy, which this is. “As they say, drama is easy and comedy is hard. You must work on timing and inflection and still, you never know how the laughs will work. George is working a lot on energy level and timing.”

The other element of the challenge are the costumes. Chanae Houska has designed costumes for all 22-cast member – hats, shoes, everything – and Badgero says they look terrific.

Since “Shakespeare in Love” was originally a movie, it is owned by Disney. It had a huge run in London and at Strat­ford Festival in Ontario.

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