Friday, November 10, 2017

TITUS ANDROGYNOUS • YoungLiars

Spilling out on the 4th floor ballroom of the Centene Center is a YoungLiars revamp of Shakespeare’s goriest play, Titus Andronicus. Adapted and directed by producing director Chuck Harper, the renamed Titus Androgynous: Un Comico Spettacolare, exploits the grisly retaliations between Titus, a Roman general, and his nemesis, Tamora, Queen of the Goths, with buckets of blood-soaked gusto. In addition to the onslaught of beheadings, rape and dismemberment, this condensed, swiftly paced splatter-fest features ingenious original compositions performed by Paul Cereghino -- highly entertaining numbers that acclimate the audience, and percussionist Michael Ferguson’s scoring that punctuates the break-neck action.

Mutius (Katy Keating) and Titus (Jonah Walker).
Photo credit: Valerie Goldston
Jonah Walker is a cool and steady, but increasingly mad Titus, back from war with a target on his back. Tamora, a deliciously evil Maggie Conroy, is bent on avenging the death of one of her sons, egged on by her lover, Aaron the Moore, played by a perfectly devious Erin Renée Roberts. Isaiah de Lorenzo displays a diabolical grimace as Saturnanus, the declared Emperor of Rome, who chooses to take Titus' daughter, Lavinia, to wed. Rachel Tibbetts receives the brunt of the carnage as Lavinia -- animated and hilarious, even after her tongue is cut out. Jeff Skoblow’s crazy speed-shuffling singles him out as Old Marcus, the father of Titus, and Mitch Eagles is Bassianus, the rival brother of Saturnanus.

You know something is about to go down when Katy Keating wheels out the “blood cart”, ready to gleefully squirt fake blood into the mouths of her cast-mates, in addition to playing a son of the Androgynous family and a son of Tamora’s. Ellie Schwetye and Amanda Wales also play two sons -- Martius and Quintas, the brave sons of Titus, and Chiron and Demetriass, the thug-ass sons of Tamora, who get an excellent R&B accompaniment courtesy of Ferguson’s drum skills.

Tamora (Maggie Conroy)
and Aaron the Moore (Erin Renée Roberts).
Photo credit: Valerie Goldston
The family distinctions of the multiple role-playing, white-faced, dark-eyed cast are kept clear with Conroy’s costume design of overcoats, corsets, sashes and feathery neck-bands. David Blake’s scenic design keeps it simple with white plastic sheets, and Roger Speidel and Jim Wulfsong provide the show’s necessary share of prosthetics.

This production’s ability to hop back and forth across the lines of violent tragedy and musical comedy makes it as fun as it is brutish, and has been extended until the 18th. Don’t miss it.

Incidentals
• I mentioned there’s a lot of blood, right?


TITUS ANDROGYNOUS

Written by William Shakespeare, adapted by Chuck Harper
Percussion and Scoring by Michael Ferguson
Original Musical Compositions by Paul Cereghino
Directed by Chuck Harper
Centene Center For The Arts, 4th Floor Ballroom, 3547 Olive Street
through November 18 | tickets: $20
Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm

Lavinia (Rachel Tibbetts)
and Titus (Jonah Walker).
Photo credit: Valerie Goldston
Ensemble Drammatico
Valentine, Mater of Ceremonies: Paul Cereghino

The Romans
Saturnanus, son of the late emperor of Rome: Isaiah de Lorenzo
Bassianus, brother and rival to Saturnanus: Mitch Eagles
Titus Androgynous, Roman general against the Goths: Jonah Walker
Luscious Androgynous, son of Titus: Mitch Eagles
Martius Androgynous, son of Titus: Ellie Schwetye
Quintas Androgynous, son of Titus: Amanda Wales
Mutius Androgynous, son of Titus: Katy Keating
Lavinia Androgynous, daughter of Titus: Rachel Tibbetts
Old Marcus Androgynous, father of Titus: Jeff Skoblow
Young Luscious, son of Luscious and grandson of Titus: Katy Keating
Aemelius, A Roman Lord: Michael Ferguson

Demetriass (Amanda Wales) and Chiron (Ellie Schwetye).
Photo credit: Valerie Goldston
The Goths
Tamora, Queen of the Goths: Maggie Conroy
Demetriass, son of Tamora: Amanda Wales
Chiron, son of Tamora: Ellie Schwetye
Alarbus, son of Tamora: Katy Keating
First Goth: Paul Cereghino
Second goth: Katy Keating

Aaron the Moore, lover of Tamora: Erin Renée Roberts
A Clown: Paul Cereghino

Ensemble Creativo
Costume Designer: Maggie Conroy
Best Man: Jef Awada
Couterier Extraordinaire: Marcy Wiegert and Lola Harper
Scenic Designer: David Blake
Lighting Designer: Ben Lewis
Stage Manager: Gabe Taylor
Assistant Director: Francesca Ferrari
Assistant Stage Manager: Gracie Sartin
Prosthetics: Roger Speidel and Jim Wulfsong

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