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Shakespeare comes alive with ‘Scene Fest’

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Cast

Here are the "Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest" cast and Shakespeare Junior Company.

Prepare to get lost in the world of William Shakespeare and enchanted by the talented cast of the “Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest.”

Presented at the Greenwood Little Theatre’s W.M. Whittington Jr. Playhouse, a preview performance was held earlier this week.

This is the Greenwood Shakespeare Project’s fourth “Scene Fest” since the program started in 2016. The project includes a five-week camp where the participants are trained in Shakespeare’s plays, set construction, music, dance, and scenery and costume design. The camp is capped with the “Summer Scene Fest,” when the campers’ hard work is on display for three nights of performances.

Walking into the theater, the audience will be captivated by the elaborate set. All of the props and scenery were handcrafted by the cast members.

The show’s director, Steve Iwanski, who leads the Greenwood Shakespeare Project, said last week that the members annually try to keep topping the set design from the previous year. With a two-story structure and a set piece with a special effect, the group succeeded.

The show’s scenes include four from “Twelfth Night,” which serves as the show’s through line; one each from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Measure for Measure,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” “King John,” “Richard III,” “Hamlet,” “Titus Andronicus” and “Henry VIII”; and two from “Henry VI.”

After the opening scene from “Twelfth Night,” the show features one of the most iconic Shakespeare plays — “Romeo and Juliet.”

Juliet, played by Niobi Elliot, is perched near the balcony window when she says one of the play’s most famous lines: “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Romeo, played by Raghav Nallani, climbs the side of the Capulet home to the balcony window, where he performs most of the scene with Juliet.

Not only is there romance; the “Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest” includes plenty of comedy.

In scenes from “Twelfth Night,” Brendan Pernell plays Malvolio, who is tricked. The pranksters are Aaliyah Evans as Sir Toby Belch, Callie Nelms as Maria, Yash Malhotra as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Nayia Elliott as Fabian. The scene is highlighted by Brendan’s monologue as Malvolio talking to himself and Aaliyah’s reactions of a “hidden” Sir Toby.

One of the funniest scenes that’s sure to have the audience roaring with laughter is from “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Leading characters include Mistress Ford (Niobi), Mistress Page (Aaliyah) and Falstaff (Brendan). The comical scene features great acting from the leading roles as well as the supporting cast. Ladies’ man Falstaff is tricked by Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, and the scene concludes with a hilarious outcome.

The show also features scenes from some of Shakespeare’s historical plays, including the murder of King Henry VI (Callie) by Richard III (Raghav). Raghav’s portrayal of the surly hunchback is haunting and one of the best performances by the fourth-year Greenwood Shakespeare Project camper. Richard appears in three different scenes — two from “Henry VI” and a grim monologue from “Richard III,” where he plots to take the throne.

Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet” is featured in the “Scene Fest.” Niobi, performing another famous Shakespeare role, is Hamlet in act 5, scene 1. She holds up a skull while talking to Horatio (Yash) and says, “Alas, poor Yorick!”

New to the show this year is the Shakespeare Junior Company, which includes elementary-age children. The group, directed by Jenna Arnold, performs a dance in the second-to-last scene of the show. In “Henry VIII,” Queen Katherine of Aragon (Sydney Beane) experiences a vision. As the queen sleeps, the children perform an ethereal dance around Katherine while holding lights on the darkened stage. The Junior Company is a fun addition to the “Scene Fest.”

Aaliyah closes the show with the final scene. Playing Feste the jester from act 5, scene 1, of “Twelfth Night,” she sings a beautiful yet melancholic song about an eventful life in the wind and the rain.

The fourth-year “Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest” cast members — Niobi, Aaliyah, Raghav, Callie and Brendan — are all now pros on the stage. With this show, the five cast members have performed at least one scene from all of Shakespeare’s 38 plays.

Returning for a second year are cast members Sydney, Nayia and Lucas Lormand, who all give excellent performances.

First-year members are Yash and Khyra Ware, who are both great additions to the cast.

The “Scene Fest” cast is not only comfortable on stage but also comfortable performing Shakespeare, which makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.

And, where else can you watch a talented group of students in grades 7-12, all from different schools, performing Shakespeare with a set they built wearing costumes they sewed?

Whether you enjoy comedy, romance or tragedy, the “Shakespeare Summer Scene Fest” has it all. The show is a great night of theater.

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Summer Scene Fest” tickets are $10 at the door.

For more information, visit greenwoodlittletheatre.com or call or text (662) 947-1075 to reserve seats.

• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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