Scene Fest is a magical night of theater
This year’s Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest theme is fantasy, and it is indeed a magical night of theater.
The cast is a mixture of veteran performers and newcomers, and the scenes are well cast, playing on the strengths of each actor.
Before the performance, the director, Steve Iwanski, who leads the Greenwood Shakespeare Project, tells the audience “everything you are seeing on the stage” was made by the cast members — they are not only talented actors and actresses but they also created the set and made many of their costumes and props.
The show, at Greenwood Little Theatre’s W.M. Whittington Jr. Playhouse, begins with a scene from “The Winter’s Tale” that sets a mystical mood.
With the sounds of thunder, the following scene changes tone as the audience is able to take in the stage’s nautical scenery — a colorful beach and sea backdrop and a large wooden ship carrying the king of Naples and other nobles during a violent storm from “The Tempest.”
A scene from “Pericles” features the physician Cerimon, played by Raghav Nallani, and his servants as they discover a chest that washed up on the beach. Inside the chest, they find Sydney Beane, playing the lifeless Thaisa.
Then come three scenes from “As You Like It.”
The first features Aaliyah Evans, playing musician Amiens, performing “Under the Greenwood Tree,” showing she can sing as well as act. She’s interrupted by Jaques, played by Brendan Pernell, whose big moment on the stage comes as the same character in a following scene from “As You Like It.”
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” says Brendan in the monologue. The third-year participant doesn’t skip a beat in his delivery.
With the next scene comes a lively battle.
Young Orlando (E.J. Davis) faces Charles (Ahmed Evans.) The two light up the stage in the well-choreographed battle. They give an excellent performance, each getting the crowd involved.
The cries from cousins Rosalind (Aaliyah) and Celia (Niobi Elliott) before watching the outmatched rumble between Orlando and front-runner Charles, make the audience feel like Orlando is doomed to fail, but an unlikely outcome occurs.
Following is a dramatic scene from “All’s Well That Ends Well,” well-acted by a Shakespeare first-year participant, Sydney, and a second-year, Paige Wilson.
The first half of the play is capped brilliantly with a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” A well-played Quince (Victoria Reed) is directing a group of actors, who are rehearsing a play in the woods.
Then, Puck, played by Aaliyah who gives a whimsical performance, discovers them and decides to play a prank on Bottom (E.J.).
Soon woken is Titania (Niobi), a fairy queen in a sparkling dress who seems to fall in love with Bottom, who does not look quite himself after Puck’s prank.
The well-acted scene is both humorous and enchanting.
After intermission, the enchantment continues with a majestic dance from “The Tempest” that attendees are sure to enjoy, as well as the colorful costumes.
Next comes a scene from “Coriolanus,” as Volumnia (Paige) and Virgilia (Callie Nelms), mother and wife to Roman general Martius, discuss the cost of battlefield honor. Paige completes the scene with a powerful performance.
An action-packed scene from “Henry VI” features Joan of Arc (Niobi) and Talbot (Raghav), who both shine on the stage in a well-choreographed, spot-on performance of a sword fight. A large battle — with many causalities — ensues.
The end of the scene is somber and complements the following one from “Cymbeline,” which is a tearjerker for many. In the scene, Arviragus (Paige) and Guiderius (Aaliyah) sing “Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun” to the music of an acoustic guitar. Each has a solo, followed by a duet. The song is beautifully performed.
A change of pace follows with a comedic scene from “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” Armado (Brendan) is teased and mocked by his manservant Mote (Niobi) for being in love with the kitchen wench Jaquenetta (Katlyn Issac), who has a sassy remark for Armando. Brendan and Niobi play well off each other’s characters, as Mote has witty comebacks to Armado, who seems to be full of himself.
In “Henry IV,” Victoria, playing a tired king who cannot sleep, has a well-recited monologue, which includes the iconic line, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
The performance comes full circle with another scene from “The Winter’s Tale,” which features standout acting by Raghav as Leontes, a widower paying a repentant visit to the chapel that houses a statue of his late wife, Hermione.
The third-year participants — Brendan, Callie, Raghav, Ahmad, Aaliyah and Niobi — are now veterans to the stage, and it’s evident in their performances in every scene.
The second years — E. J., Victoria and Paige — have grown as actors and give excellent performances.
Newcomers Lucas Lormand, Dwight Issac, Katlyn and Sydney are all very talented and nice additions to the Shakespeare group.
Bottom line: Go see the Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest. It’s more than worth the $10 at the door — funds for future summer camps — and you won’t find a more talented group of 12- to 16-year-olds anywhere else.
Performances begin at 7 tonight and Saturday night.
For more information, visit greenwoodlittletheatre.com or call or text (662) 947-1075 to reserve seats.