Who knew one of Shakespeare's least known plays, The Winter's Tale, could blend so nicely with the 21st century?
The play opens the 2013-14 theater season Nov. 15 at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
It's a romantic drama fraught with jealousy and temper, delight and love, said director Ginny Quinley.
It follows two kings, Leontes and Polixenes, who have been friends since boyhood but are torn apart by irrational jealousy.
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James Callaghan plays King Polixenes, and Alex Halachis plays King Leontes.
The story line gets darker when one of the kings banishes his newborn child to the elements where a shepherd finds him and raises him as his own. In the end, twists of fate turn the story around so that a tragedy ends up a comedic romance, Quinley said.
Even more unusual about The Bard's play is how the costumes are shaping up by costumer Verna Schwilke.
"The choice of The Winter's Tale opened up many possibilities for creative license," Schwilke said. "Ronn Campbell suggested using World of Warcraft as our inspiration, and I was on board."
Schwilke said she was familiar with the computer game because her sons played it, and the game's characters feature similar fashion as Shakespeare's medieval times.
"Every show I design begins with weeks of research," Schwilke said. "In this case, I researched the play itself and then consulted with my sons to make the proper connections between the characters of the play and the World of Warcraft characters."
The female characters in The Winter's Tale stay true to Shakespeare's practice of bringing strong female characters into his menagerie of plays.
Jordan Rawlings, 18, plays Hermione, and she couldn't agree more.
"Hermione is one of Shakespeare's strongest women. She is confident, protective, honest, and she has a pretty, no-nonsense quality that I admire," she said. "The most challenging part of playing Hermione, even more difficult than interpreting the language, was pretending to be pregnant. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to waddle like a pregnant woman."
Brittney Michele Case, 20, plays Paulina. It's her first Shakespeare play and she said she was a little intimidated at first.
"I feared I would butcher Shakespeare's work and not be able to pull off such a strong character," Case said. "But this past month, I have realized how far I can push my acting abilities. I have come to love my character. She is a very strong woman who fights for what she knows is right and is ultimately responsible for bringing the kingdom together."
Alexis Klippert, 19, plays Perdita, the daughter of Hermione and Leontes. She describes her character as a mix of Rapunzel and Cinderella, her favorite Disney movie characters.
"Let's be real: I scream, run and have uncontrollable giggles when I see the Disney princesses," Klippert said. "I may have also watched Shakespeare in Love, Ever After and The Princess Bride enough times to be able to quote any line on request. (So) I have a thing for princesses and went pretty cuckoo bananas when I got this role."
Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15-16 with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 17. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 students and seniors and available at the door.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal