EAST BRUNSWICK — A storm will be unleashed this month on the East Brunswick campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, when theater and dance students will team with performing arts professionals to present a cutting-edge interpretation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
All the magic and other-worldly aspects of the Bard’s last play will be combined with the modern-day theme of suspicion and exploitation of alien cultures.
“We’re taking this very rabidly contemporary approach,” said theater arts teacher Maria Aladren, who is directing the production.
“Who are the ‘others’ and how do we abuse them?
“What makes Shakespeare so relevant today is that he wrote from the point of view of that other side, those foreign people who scare us today,” Aladren said.
The set, designed by professional Lea Anello and built by students, will have the look of a military compound. Student-produced videos and special effects will be incorporated.
While some aspects of the play take on the tone of romantic comedy, Aladren explained, there also is the magic and fantasy of non-human characters who need to be “civilized,” and the theme of revenge tempered by “an undercurrent of sympathy” that permeates the text.
“We’re very excited,” Aladren said. “This is going to be huge.”
“The Tempest” will be presented in the auditorium of East Brunswick Vo-Tech, 112 Rues Lane, at 7 p.m. March 14, 15, 16, 21 and 22. Tickets are $12 for the general public, $5 for senior citizens and students in grades K-12 when purchased before the show opens. At the door, tickets are $15 for the general public, $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets (mcvtstempest.brownpapertickets.com) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six months in the making, the production will feature students Kelsey Rodriguez of Carteret as Stephano; Abbi Newfeld of Colonia as Antonio; Emily Pabish of Dunellen as Sebastian; Brittany Guben of East Brunswick as Ariel; Jason Gaines of New Brunswick as Trinculo; John Gryl of Old Bridge as Caliban; South Plainfield residents Hannah Suchomel as Miranda and Brett Temple as Ferdinand and Marjorie Sullivan of Woodbridge as Alonso.
MCVTS dance instructor Cleo Mack is the choreographer; the costume designer is Jessa-Raye Court; light designer, Jessica Kasprisin, and sound designer, Scott O’Brien.
Professional actor Christopher Klinger, a Bergen County native who has appeared at the Globe Theatre in London, will play Prospero, while Seth Newfeld, of Colonia, father of two seniors in the production, Abbi and dance student Hana, will play Gonzalo.
The student production team is led by Rebecca Cortes of Sayreville, company manager; Katelyn Covington of Monroe and Christa DeMaio of Edison are stage managers.
The production follows the successful Senior Showcase January, in which senior students presented three one-act plays written by MCVTS theater program graduates. The playwrights, Javier Aladren, Dan Baker and Hope Wondowski, now are students at Ohio University, where nine MCVTS students performed the plays later in the month.
The School of the Arts of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools provides a broad-based practical foundation for young artists seeking excellence in acting, dance, film, directing, stage management, design, arts management and related fields. Students attend the program for half of the school day and complete their high school courses the rest of the day.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the oldest vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge. The district will mark its centennial in 2014.