"If people are scared of Shakespeare, or think it's boring, or just don't get it, they're in for a surprise," said Amanda Mountain, public relations director of TheatreWorks at UCCS.
The professional regional drama company is set to kick off its 29th season of theater in Colorado with a production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and accompanying special events throughout the run. All of it -- the hors d'oeuvres, the workshops and the play -- is free and open to the public.
What's the catch? TheatreWorks' 22-year tradition of giving it away is all part of a cunning plot to get folks into some live-theater action.
"It's great community outreach," said Mountain. "When people actually see live, professional theater, they're hooked. They want more."
Of course, TheatreWorks is also on hand with season subscriptions: a yearlong tix fix can be as little as $40. The price is right, but still, you can't beat free, and Shrew is on deck to please for the ultimately affordable nada.
Make no mistake: this is Shakespeare as we've never seen him before. New York director Richard Crawford (who starred in TheatreWorks' production of Frankenstein last season), and Artistic Director Murray Ross (who is adapting Treasure Island for the upcoming season) have assembled artists from all over the country to make this Shrew the most extravagant show of the year. The famous tale of spousal seeking and subjection is set in a three-ring circus, complete with juggling, turn-of-the-century costumes, ladders, poles and serious subplot action. Crawford brings all his experience and unique perceptions to the show: He's a British-born New Yorker who studied in France with the prestigious Le Coq company. He and his talented team offer the kind of spectacle rarely seen in the Springs.
"They've arranged a sort of Cirque Du Soleil does Moulin Rouge -- quirky, cosmopolitan commedia dell'arte," said lead actress, local Alysabeth Clements.
Clements was thrilled when Crawford chose her for the role of Kate. "I've been wanting to play Kate for years: Shakespeare was writing about someone like me!"
The multitalented Clements is not only a well-known Colorado Springs actress, but also a former DJ (the first female Mark Brother) and creator of the controversial Web site feministstripper.com. She says that the play is a perfect picture of gender relations, with subversion and submission playing out as part of mutual, tempestuous love. Clements' Kate coupled with George Spencer as Petruchio promises a fiery combination of witty wordplay and hilarity in action. Action is a key word in this particular production; Clements has suffered a fractured heel and a separated rib cage from negotiating the set, and Spencer is said to put in eight or nine hours of rehearsal a day.
In the words of Petruchio: "If she and I be pleas'd, what's that to you? 'Tis bargained 'twixt us twain."
But everyone will be pleased with TheatreWorks' Taming of the Shrew. The audience can decide for itself whether 'tis better to be shrewish or shrewd.
-- J. N. Nail
capsule The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, on Cragwood Drive near the corner of Union and Austin Bluffs
July 2 - 18, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets are given away nightly beginning at 5:45 p.m. They go fast, so be early. Free parking starts at 5. There is a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. and one on Sunday at 4 p.m.
For more, contact TheatreWorks' box office at 262-3232 or check the Web site: www.uccstheatreworks.com for showtimes and the complete schedule of workshops and free events.