Tri-Cities Prep High School will tackle a Shakespeare classic for its spring show, but this time they chose one of The Bard's more controversial stories.
The Merchant of Venice, which opens April 26 in the school's auditorium, is about a 16th-century merchant who neglects to pay off a large loan from a detested Jewish moneylender named Shylock.
Shylock seeks revenge on the Christian merchant, who defaulted on his loan.
"The play seems, on a surface reading, to be clearly anti-Semitic," said Nina Powers, who co-directs the comedy/drama with her husband Brett, who also plays Shylock.
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But the team of directors and their students chose to do the Shakespearean play anyway because the deep-seated contention that drives The Merchant of Venice seemed to correlate with the polarizing political atmosphere in America today, she added.
Because the term Jew is often used in the dialogue, the directors sought guidance from representatives with Congregation Beth Sholom in Richland.
"We're working in collaboration with the members of Beth Sholom in this production in order to keep the portrayal of the Jewish people as accurate as possible," Powers said.
Leading characters in The Merchant of Venice are senior Liam Merk as Antonio the merchant; junior Rachel Davis as Portia; junior Catherine Jacobs as Jessica; senior Maddie LeBrun as Nerissa; senior John Hylden as Gabbo; sophomore Connor Rodriguez as Count Aragon; and junior Eric Powers as Bassanio.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 26-27 and May 3-4 with a 3 p.m. matinee May 5. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $7 for students and are available at Tri-City Bookworm stores, Adventures Underground in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland and the Tri-Cities Prep school office at 9612 St. Thomas Drive, Pasco.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal