It has been said that, “timing is everything.”
That is certainly the main element for success in the turbo-speed comedy, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” based on the antics of three friends who developed the script in the 1980s.
“It is so clever,” director Josh Richardson said. “It is one of those rare combinations of smart and fast-paced with snappy writing. It fires on all cylinders from start to finish.”
The Farmington resident has appeared in more than 20 shows at the Hale Centre Theatre. This is the fourth show he has directed at CenterPoint.
He currently appears on stage, and dabbles in film, commercials and radio, in addition to directing.
The three actors, Rusty Bringhurst and Doug Caldwell, of Davis County, and Mike Gardner, of Ogden, are working together for the first time. The nature of the show — requiring quick thinking, ad-libbing and impeccable comedic timing — has brought them close as a cast.
“You need the right three actors,” Richardson said. “If they don’t form a real chemistry, the show is going to fall flat. They have never worked together, before and they have formed a strong friendship that is obvious on stage. Our behind the scenes stage manager is also critical.”
Melissa Stowell, of Davis County, is handling props and helping the actors change in and out of costumes.
“The show backstage is just as entertaining,” Richardson said. “There are lightning fast costume changes. One actor might play six characters in a matter of minutes.”
That is what it takes for three actors to perform parodies of, or at least make reference to, Shakespeare’s 37 plays and 154 sonnets in 90 minutes. The parodies come in forms including interpretive dance, music videos and a cooking show.
“If there is any lull, it just kills the momentum,” Richardson said. “It is very controlled chaos.”
The three actors all bring a different approach. According to Richardson, Gardner is very structured and focused on the script while Bringhurst is more off the wall.
“He will try 1,000 different things to find out what works.”
Caldwell is somewhere in the middle. He thinks their different approaches in style enrich the quality of the performance.
“What they all bring is a willingness to look like idiots,” Richardson said.
Although the show includes lines taken straight from Shakespeare’s works, which the director said are delivered with precision, there are other parts that are open to improvisation.
“I think the audience will be really surprised at how creative these guys can be,” Richardson said. “They really exercise their creative muscles. It is thrilling to watch.”
The humor is irreverent at times and Richardson doesn’t recommend it for children under the age of 13.
“Younger than that would not enjoy many of the jokes,” the director said.
Aside from that, it is a show for everyone.
“It is thoroughly entertaining. It is for people that love Shakespeare, people that hate Shakespeare, and people that don’t know Shakespeare,” Richardson said.
“If you’ve never read a single line, you will still get a really good show with a lot of slapstick humor. Shakespeare can be dry and boring if it is not done with enthusiasm, and we have that in spades in this production.”
The play has become very popular over the years. It is frequently updated to keep it fresh and in line with current events.
As director and cast have been preparing for opening night, there has been at least as much focus on timing as there has been on blocking and memorizing lines.
“The timing and the flow of the show is what we work on more than any other part,” Richardson said. “The timing is more important than line precision. The nature of the show is such that parts can be improvised as long as the flow is there. My only hope is that it is half as much fun for the audience as it is for us.”
- WHAT: ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)’
- WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays and Mondays, Sept. 19-Oct. 11
- WHERE: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, Leishman Performance Hall, 525 N. 400 West, Centerville
- TICKETS: $15; www.centerpointtheatre.org or 801-298-1302