At least seven actors from the Ashland area will appear in the Arts Resources for the Tri-State (ARTS) production of “Macbeth” this weekend and next weekend at the Renaissance Center in Huntington.
Len Trent (Macduff), Jonathan Maynard (Lennox), Tish Maynard (Lady Macduff, nurse), Brian Cook (Ross), Roger Hagley (Angus), Sarah Diamond Burroway (witch), Gregory Picklesimer (Donalbain) and Sheila Meade (witch) have roles in the classic Shakespearean tragedy directed by T. Michael Murdock.
Murdock, who has appeared in other ARTS performances and who has experience performing Shakespeare in the United States and England, said ARTS president Bil Neal suggested he direct a show.
“My first inclination was to do something scary and brutal for Halloween,” he said. “‘Macbeth’ is exactly that.”
Even though many think Shakespeare seems foreign, it shouldn’t.
“Sometimes people don’t realize just how much of our television dramas and comedies and even films are rooted deeply in Shakespeare and other classics. I wanted to prove that audiences would come out to see not only a non-musical, but also a classical non-musical, in a more contemporary setting.”
It’s taken Murdock about six months to prepare for the show, making cuts and combining some smaller roles to create meatier roles for fewer actors. While many themes run through the play, Murdock said he’s mainly interested in the human factor.
“While (Macbeth) may believe in the dark magic, it's not forcing him to do the terrible things he does. He has free will, just like we all do — the strength of his beliefs sway him, but ultimately he’s a man who allows his ambition, his wife and his greed get the best of him. It could happen to real people, just like any of us, and it has throughout history.”
The cast and crew worked on the show for about two months. Murdock said rehearsals have been intense because of the challenging language of the play but actors, many with little theater experience, are doing a great job of understanding the play and communicating the actions to the audience.
“I’m blown away every night with how well they are telling this timeless story of murder and mayhem,” he said. “We do have a few veteran Shakespearean actors, but everyone started out on the same level and worked this show from the ground up. We tore the play down and built it back from scratch.”
Murdock said he hopes the show proves that doing Shakespeare is fun.
“This show has everything — it’s sexy, it’s bloody, it’s scary — there’s sword fighting and explosions and some of the coolest lighting and special effects you’ll ever see live,” he said, noting he believes the audience will gain a new respect and enjoyment from the Bard.
“I can’t wait for people to see it. It's not just going to be an event, it’s going to be an experience. And it’s going to be like nothing anyone has seen in the Tri-State in a really, really long time, if ever,” he said.
“We’re breaking new ground. We’re kicking the bar up for not only non-musicals, but all community theatre in this area. We’re shooting for ‘wow factor’ and I think audiences will walk away talking about this show for quite awhile.”
Arts Resources of the Tri-State will present "Macbeth" at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday and at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 and 20 and 2 p.m. Oct. 21. Tickets are $10. Dinner and show tickets are available by reservation at $25 per person for Friday and Saturday shows. For reservations, call (304) 733-ARTS for dinner reservations. Performances will be at the Renaissance Center (the former Huntington High School), 900 8th St., Huntington.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.