Countless audiences have cackled at Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew since its first performance in the 16th century. But for the first time ever in Oklahoma, the comedy takes the stage courtesy of Tulsa Ballet.
Starring world-recognized dancers Alfonso Martin and Soo Youn Cho, the ballet tells the classic tale of Petruchio and Kate. While Kate is a stubborn shrew, Petruchio will not stop his pursuit before she gives him her love, even if he has to trick her into it. The obnoxious antics of both parties make way for a hilarious ballet performance.
"I think I'm really the opposite of my character," Cho said about Shakespeare's Kate. "When I'm dancing, I really enjoy the part, but I'd never really slap anybody or throw fits. That's not my personality at all."
Cho has been dancing since she was 5 and has since performed in Germany, South Korea, Switzerland and elsewhere. She's been awarded medals, trophies, and full scholarships to prestigious ballet schools. But she said her gig at Tulsa Ballet has everything she needs.
"I love my work, and I like it here in Tulsa. As long as I can be in great shows like this, I don't need anything else," she said.
Cho likely doesn't have time for much else anyway. The dancers have been rehearsing for this show from 8:30am to 6pm every day, with a one-hour break for lunch.
"Every production is a challenge for us," Martin said, "but partnering-wise, this show is one of the hardest. Because there's so much going on between Petruchio and Kate, I do a lot of lifting. And overall, the show is fast-paced and we're all dancing all the time. It's very tiring."
Martin said that playing Petruchio isn't as much of a stretch for him.
"The way I see him is that he likes to have fun. He's always playing and losing all his money. I'm kind of that way sometimes," he said. "It can be more difficult to play a prince or an imaginary character, than to play someone like this. He's really just a normal guy."
Martin started dancing at 6 and later became part of companies like Ballet de Monterey in Mexico and Boston Ballet. Beyond winning the gold medal at Torrelavega, Spain, he has also danced in Brazil and Italy.
"This show is different because it's so much fun," Cho said. "And because we have John Cranko, who is a wonderful choreographer. He has us dance in ways that require skill, but are very clear and understandable to audiences."
Melinda Gable, spokeswoman for Tulsa Ballet, said that the show works even for audiences who don't normally attend ballet productions.
"Because the show is so very funny and easy to follow and enjoy, it is great for people who wouldn't normally come. The dancing is incredible, especially the lifts, and it's impossible to not laugh," she said.
Taming of the Shrew will be performed Feb. 4-5 at 8pm, and Feb. 6 at 3pm, in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. For tickets and information, visit tulsapac.com.
Also this week
Nightingale Theater presents Black Bog Beast Bait, a drama about ignorance and superstition, Feb. 3-6, 10-12 at 8pm, 1416 E. 4th St. For tickets and info, visit nightingaletheater.com or call 918-633-8666.
The Tulsa Artists' Coalition presents An Urban Portrait by Libby Williams at the TAC Gallery, 9 East Brady, Feb. 4-26. Come to the opening reception, Feb. 4 at 6pm to meet the artist. This event is free and is part of the Brady Arts District's First Friday Art Walk.
Spotlight Theatre presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest, a children's production of the beloved family story. Catch a show Feb. 4-6; 11-13 at the Spotlight Theatre, 1381 Riverside Dr.
American Theatre Company will perform Souvenir, a musical comedy about a wealthy socialite who can't sing, Feb. 4-12 at Tulsa Ballet Studio K, 1212 E. 45th Pl. For more information, visit americantheatrecompany.org or call 918-749-6006.
St. Gregory's University will present Lolek, a one-man dramatic play based on the young adult years of Pope John Paul II, Feb. 6 at 2pm at the Sarkeys Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and sponsors. For more information, call 405-878-5353 or e-mail email@example.com.
Actors Company of Tulsa presents Falling in Love Again, a night of Shakespearean sonnets performed by Tulsa actors, Feb. 10-11 at 7pm at Club 209: The Arts Bar, 209 N. Boulder Ave. The show is directed by Starr Hardgrove and Bonny Downs. Twenty-one and older only. All proceeds benefit Actors Company of Tulsa. The event will also be streamed live at actorsoftulsa.org.
Playhouse Theatre Tulsa will perform Love Song, an offbeat romantic comedy about a down-in-the-dumps guy finding someone special, Feb. 10-12 at 7:30pm and Feb. 13 at 2pm, in the Liddy Doenges Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Heller Theatre presents their annual Laughing Matter Valentine's Day Benefit, a comedy show that includes chocolate samplings, Feb. 14 at 7:30pm. Admission is $10 and benefits the Heller Theatre Volunteer Council.
Odeum Theatre Company presents Reasons to Be Pretty, a play about physical appearance, and the danger of commenting on one another's flaws, Feb. 15-17; 24-26 at 8pm and Feb. 18, 27 at 2pm at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. This show is directed by Will Carpenter and will feature actors Whitson Hanna, David A. Lawrence, Leslie Long, and Erin Scarberry. Tickets are available online at myticketoffice.com.
Clark Youth Theatre will perform Peter Pan, Feb. 25-26, Mar. 4-5 at 7:30pm; Feb. 27 and Mar. 6 at 2pm, at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 S. Quaker Ave. in Henthorne Park.
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