WESTMINSTER — Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is running wild across the Westminster High School stage this weekend, complete with horses, wagons and spurs.
A cast of 20 will portray the tale of Kate and Petruchio, shrew and suitor, with an added twist. The students opted for achange of venue, moving the scene of the Elizabethan comedy from merry olde England to the Wild West.
The student actors are certainly "very creative and generous withideas," said English teacher Stacy Byrne, the play's director.
Byrne and several other teachers had heard of the classic tale being performed with a Wild West theme at a school in Virginia. Students jumped at the chance to try the concept here, she said, and their input helps them to get more out of the play.
The choice simplified staging and costuming, too, she said.
"It's a lot easier than getting Elizabethan clothing together."
What Western saga would be completewithout the horse and covered wagon?
"We have both," said Byrne. "Ours is a sawhorse with a plunger for a head and a mop for his mane.Our Conestoga is a child's little red wagon."
Byrne, a Westminster High graduate, has come home for her second year of teaching after a year at Wicomico Middle School in Salisbury. For her, "teaching is a big part" in presenting a play.
"Students need to be comfortablein what they are doing," she said. "They'll remember if it was a good experience and if they learned anything."
She also wants cast members to know they can have fun while portraying Shakespeare.
"We are going for the laughs," she said.
She has cast some teachers asmisplaced actors, who enter at inopportune times with lines from other Shakespearean dramas.
Undisturbed, the cast responds to the disruptions with shouts of "wrong play" and continues on.
The plot involves Baptista, a devoted father anxious to see his two daughters wed. Although all the suitors flock to the younger and sweeter sister, Bianca, custom dictates that the elder sister, Kate, must be first towed.
The dutiful father has his work cut out for him. The orchestra gives the audience a clue to the
dilemma, playing the theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" as Kate appears on stage.
Kate is the shrew, whose reputation has made her anathema with the local bachelors. In an effort to enhance Kate's matrimonial opportunities, Baptista increases her dowry.
Enter Petruchio, a mercurial potential husband, who, undeterred by Kate's shrill barbs, tirelessly pursuesher and her dowry.
Sophomore Andaleeb Badiee, 15, stars as Kate, saying she wanted the challenge of playing a woman of many moods.
"She's quick-tempered and jealous of her younger sister," said the dark-haired actress. "That's why she's so nasty."
This is her first lead role after two bit parts in Western Maryland College productions. The most difficult part of the play for her, she said, is the Shakespearean dialogue, "all the thees and thous."
Junior Nate McCourtney, 17, also in his first lead role, portrays Petruchio.
Junior Michael Smith, 17, as Baptista; junior Rob Simon, 16, as Lucentio; and sophomore Jason Moore, 15, as Tranio, play Bianca's suitors.
Mary Grimm, a 17-year-old senior, is the student stage director."The Taming of the Shrew" runs 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the Westminster High auditorium. Tickets are $3 at the door. Information: 848-5050.