ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
A Classic Torrential Storm in “The Tempest” Opens MCCTs Artistic Theatre Season for Area Youths
A Shakespeare comedy headlined the opening of Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre (MCCT) 2023 season. The Tempest, initially produced around 1610, also has been called a tragicomedy and the play includes a touch of romance. Seven centuries later, the prolific Lake Norman director Matt Webster selected a group of fifteen area eleven- to-seventeen-year-old actors to interpret the masterful English playwright’s classic drama at the Charles Mack Theatre in Mooresville.
Matt Webster, who directs and teaches theatre at various venues around Charlotte, knows how to think through the mind of The Bard. Once again, Webster slips into the likes of Shakespeare’s boots to conjure versatility among the players he chose to perform the renowned tale. Not only does he cast girls to play the role of a male actor, Webster, transposes the nature of male characters into leading female roles and vice versa. Shakespeare, no doubt is applauding! He certainly would approve.
The Tempest’s leading character Prospero, the Duke of Milan, becomes Prospera in MCCT’s production, played by Sadie Vaughan. Marooned on a magical remote island following the disastrous tempest at sea staged during the drama’s raucous first scene, Prospera resides with her daughter Miranda, performed by Olivia Piervencenti. Ariel, a spirit in Prospera’s service, is played by Tessa Fuller, and her servant is the savage monster Caliban, performed by David Linn.
Webster changes the original Alonso, King of Naples to become Queen Alonsa, played by Alex Oddy. Accompanied by her faithful councilor Gonzala, performed by Samantha Rafuls, Alonsa seeks the whereabouts of her son Ferdinand, played by Cooper Beecham. The roles of Alonsa’s lords, Adrian and Francisco, are performed by Adeline DeGolier and Grayson Hartzog.
In the MCCT production of The Tempest, Alonsa’s brother Sebastian becomes Sedastia, played by Emma Wood. Prospera’s brother Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan, is performed by Luke Tyrell.
Queen Alonsa’s court jester, Trinculo, is played by the agile Emberlyn Gilly, who vies with her majesty’s drunken butler Stephano, performed by Jewel Caceres. Adyson Bensha is a Boatswain and Emilia Gregori plays a Master and Sailor. When necessary, both also act as Spirits.
Acoustics at the Charles Mack Citizen Center’s auditorium often are not powerful enough for the audience to effectively catch dialogue details delivered from the stage, which is a pity. Many comedic lines are lost, and some of Shakespeare’s grandiose monologues are diminished. But other aspects of The Tempest’s production are quite impressive. The set, designed by Annie Agresta, is magnificent—a detailed myriad of intricacies placed in Prospera’s niche. Lucas DeVore’s lighting design and sound effects are on target, and Carol Linn’s costumes are outstanding.
Webster’s powerful development of each character is evident, but most impressive is that all other aspects of MCCT’s production of The Tempest are run entirely by students—front of the house, backstage, and on the boards as viewed by the audience.
Production interns include Cadence Blum, Kathleen White, Denali Smith, and Jacy Waller.
MCCT’s objective is to provide artistic opportunities to area youths through experience in the theatre. The company believes that the gift of theatre will reward the community beyond the theatre sector. This summer, the company will produce The Little Mermaid Jr. and The SpongeBob Musical Sr.
In addition to annual productions on the Mooresville stage, a Clayton Miller Memorial Scholarship was established in 2015 in honor of the organization’s founder. The prize this season was awarded to Lexia Gianopoulos, who began to perform at MCCT in the fifth grade. Lexia will enter Furman University in the fall to pursue degrees in Public Policy and Broadcast Journalism. I have enjoyed seeing nearly two dozen talented thespians receive the award since its inception.
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active member of Charlotte Writers’ Club North, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.