The St. Catharines Standard: Cappies Reviews of Ridley’s ‘The Tempest’

THE CAPPIES: Ridley presents The Tempest

Students peer review Ridley Colllege’s stage production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Show leaves audience breathless

Shayla Kirk 
Greater Fort Erie Secondary School

Themes of power, oppression, romance, and sorcery combine to create an exceptional story full of ebullient comedy, wondrous musicality and the unpredictability of human experience.

What was believed to be William Shakespeare’s last play, Ridley College’s rendition of The Tempest explores the ideas of power and powerlessness. The original Celtic Maritime songs created eeriness and euphoria throughout the scenes. Staged at the turn of the century in Nova Scotia, the play recounts the story of the sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan Prospero, played by Uju Nwadike, and her ravishing daughter Miranda, played by Monika Morcous, who have been marooned on the island.

Conjuring up a powerful and deadly storm which Ridley’s lighting, sound, and props depicted marvelously, Prospero lures her usurping sister Antonia, played by Cassandra Mitchell, complicit King Alonso of Naples, played by Wyatt Niblett-Wilson, and numerous other characters towards the island they inhabit. There, Prospero’s machinations along with the help of her loyal servant Ariel, played by Anastasia Guzenko, bring about the disclosure of Antonia’s lowly nature, the redemption of the king, and the joyous marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda.

The play creates moments of seriousness among impromptu dance numbers, unexpected songs, and fast-acting sleeping spells that leave the audience breathless. Although, the show’s brilliance heavily relied on Ridley’s mastery of the balance between comedy and drama, and the supernatural and mystical. Through each character’s experiences, you’re transported backwards in time to an age of subjection and discovery, recognizing how a thirst for power can consume your identity.

In terms of visual and technological effects, stage manager David Biggar and assistant stage manager Emma Jenkins excelled in their performances behind stage.

The original projection work used on the sail of the life-like ship was amazingly crafted, and constantly changing to set the scene for each new occurrence. The lighting and sound operated expertly, especially during the beginning storm scene. Through the use of fog, co-ordinating flashes of light, booms of thunder, and outstanding actions from the talented cast, a sense of foreboding was created.

The music proved to be a highlight of the show as the cast, on various occasions, sang collectively in perfect harmony. It was truly music to the ears. Right from the start as Stephano, played by Padraic Odesse, began his singing narration to the end when the entire cast sang farewell, this musical transformed the emotions of the audience.

This impressive work is proof of the extensive skills of the cast and crew. Through their ability to utilize the setting and musical elements, they created an exceptional rendition of The Tempest.

This musical truly deserves the name of magnificent masterpiece.

Maritime twist given to 400-year-old play

Stephanya Zimakas 
Saint Paul Catholic High School

Hunger for power and control, the good and evil in humanity, the blossoming of romance, and magic — all with a musical twist — what’s there not to love? Ridley College’s musical interpretation of the Shakespearean classic The Tempest is a spectacular production that will have you tapping your toes and wanting to sing along.

The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final masterpieces, recently celebrated its 400th anniversary.

The play was given new life on the stage of Ridley, with the addition of a Maritime musical sound track. Ridley’s rendition of The Tempest had musical pieces written by the talented Stan Rogers, and performed by the amazing school music ensemble All The Boatswain’s Crew, giving the audience a vision of the Maritimes at the turn of the century.

The Tempest is set on an isolated island, inhabited by the power-hungry Prospero (Uju Nwadike). Prospero takes siege of the island, with its magical inhabitants, and causes a tempest that strands new inhabitants on the island, creating new alliances and relationships, as well as a hunger for control.

Nwadike’s portrayal of Prospero was fantastic. Ridley’s director made a bold choice by casting a female lead as Prospero, but Nwadike brought a unique sense of power and regality to the stage, giving a portrayal of this character that was deep and real.

Aquila Wibisono gave an outstanding performance as Caliban, a native to the island and slave to Prospero. Wibisono brought to light Caliban’s deep emotions, his desire for freedom, and the anger at getting his homeland taken away. Aquilia also gave a stunning vocal performance in singing his song Creep.

However, what really made the musical shine was its talented supporting cast. Anastasia Guzenko, who played Ariel and also choreographed, was wonderful in her role and gave Ariel a sense of mystery and magic with her voice and spectacular use of movement. The romantic relationship between Miranda (Monika Morcous), daughter of Prospero, and Ferdinand (Nicholas Hayward) was dramatic and extremely comedic. Padraic Odesse, who played Stephano, gave an amazing vocal performance at the opening of the show with Barrett’s Privateers and lead the closing song Northwest Passage.

Furthermore, along with Trinculo (Raylon Chan) and Caliban, he gave a hysterical comedic and vocal performance that had the audience in stitches.

Choreography created by Anastasia Guzenko was mesmerizing and mysterious, and worked well with the ensemble work of the magical and whimsical spirits. The lighting and special effects complemented the show, and the technical crew did a great job of creating a realistic storm. Foregoing the use of microphones offered a challenge to the actors, but gave the show a more intimate feeling for the audience.

Overall, this production of The Tempest is a remarkable musical rendition of a classic that should be seen by all. Ridley has produced a piece of dramatic and musical art that will leave audiences wanting for more.

Tempest musical a risk well-rewarded

Michaela Bax-Leaney 
Eden High School

Two unlikely worlds collided masterfully during Ridley College’s musical adaptation of The Tempest.

This utterly unique take on the show merged the last of Shakespeare’s works with turn-of-the-century Canadian Maritime folk music. Mysticism and dry humour paired perfectly, and the cast and crew flawlessly married drama and comedy on the stage.

Prospero the sorcerer (Uju Nwadike) with the help of the spirit Ariel (Anastasia Guzenko), crashes her sister Antonia’s (Cassandra Mitchell) ship onto the island where Prospero lives.

Previously, Antonia had dethroned Prospero and abandoned her on the island with her daughter, Miranda (Monika Morcous). Prospero is hungry for revenge.

The shipwrecked party finds themselves split into groups, and the story follows their trials and tribulations as they roam the island, each in search of something different — power, romance, or simply another drink.

Guzenko’s breathtaking movement pieces, all of which were original, were invaluable to the narrative. For the untrained ear, Shakespeare can be difficult to understand. The way in which movement and body language was used helped enormously in bridging that gap. This was particularly evident in scenes with the ensemble of Spirits, where the fluid and well-synchronized motions conveyed emotions more intimately than dialogue ever could.

Caliban (Aquila Wibisono) and Antonia (Cassandra Mitchell) had incredible stage presences bolstered by their mastery of physical movement. The horrifying elegance of Mitchell’s tortured seizures, and the groveling postures of Wibisono made theirs two performances not likely to be forgotten.

The raw power in Nwadike’s performance was another unforgettable element of the show. Her rich purple robes glittered in the spotlight, and her voice commanded the attention of every audience member during her monologues.

With the integration of Canadian folk music came live instruments performed both on and off stage. However, there was also some original music written and performed on the violin by Petrina Mo. Mo’s pieces keened as the characters struggled, and heightened the emotion so that it was nearly palpable.

Emma Jenkins many masterpieces appeared in this production, from her makeup and projection design to the lighting and sound designed alongside David Biggar.

The projection was a particularly unique element on the main set piece, the jutting carnage of the shipwrecked vessel. The sail of the ship shifted between patterns and colours, which not only matched the tone of the play, but in some cases aided in the telling of the story.

Turning The Tempest into a musical may have been a risk, but it was a risk well rewarded. The music matched the tone of the show perfectly, and made comedic scenes infinitely funnier.

But beyond the punchlines, the show raised questions of power, influence, and morality — questions that, in an ever polarizing political climate, cannot go unanswered. It explored the concept of power, and how power dynamics shape our personal relationships as well as the world around us. How do we get power, why do we seek power, and what happens when our power is lost?

What are the Cappies?

Cappies Niagara is a critics and awards program for high school theatre and journalism that’s all about student reviews of student productions.

Schools in the region participating in Cappies train high school theatre and journalism students as critics, who then attend shows at other schools and write reviews.

Their reviews are submitted, anonymously, for review by a Cappies teacher. The top three reviews are published in the newspaper after each of the plays is performed. At the end of the season, the student critics and performers gather for a formal Cappies gala and awards ceremony.

Cappies programs run throughout the U.S. and Canada.