Faculty adapt Shakespeare’s comedy set in the 1590s to American culture in the 1950s

Dec 18, 2015

North Central College students will stage William Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” a renaissance romp with a 1950’s twist Jan. 7-10.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7-10 in the College’s Madden Theatre at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $10/adults and $8/students and seniors; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix.

North Central’s visiting assistant professor of theatre Dave Peterson has adapted Shakespeare’s 1590’s London production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” to the 1950s in America. Setting the play in a “Happy Days”-type diner with images of soda fountains and homey American culture, Peterson collaborated with associate professor of theatre and director Carin Silkaitis, scenic designer Dan Stratton and costume designer Kandace Huebner to translate the play in design and in script.

“While keeping the majority of Shakespeare’s language … with its word play, poetry and power of language … we’ve made small changes to clarify new relationships and locations,” Peterson says.

The play tells the story of Falstaff, a man of rank and status but no money. He tries to seduce and then extort married Mistresses Page and Ford. The audience gets to delight in Falstaff’s pretensions and the wit of the women who turn his plot on its head. Through the course of the play, Page and Ford dump Falstaff in a river, dress him as an old woman, and convince him to wander the woods at night looking for other-worldy beings. All the while, Page and her husband attempt to arrange the marriage of their daughter, who insists on making her own choice.

Shakespeare’s only domestic comedy, “Merry Wives” has an unusually large number of strong and witty roles for women. His comedy is familiar, and the College’s adaptation in the 1950s has a similar familiarity and nostalgia for our age, says Peterson.

“The truth, particularly for women and minorities in the ’50s, was not so idyllic. The seeming perfection concealed simmering tensions, abuses and inequalities. This tension between the ideal and reality is playfully brought to life by placing ‘Merry Wives’ in the 1950s,” says Peterson. “We get to visit a world we think is familiar and fun, but instead see women in charge and playful uprootings of convention. Our production of ‘Merry Wives’ captures what Shakespeare hoped to capture for his audience: something familiar but with a twist. This twist allows us to revisit the dream of the 1950s while also poking fun at its shortcomings.”

The cast for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is (role, name, town, year, major):

Mistress Page: Bridget Adams-King of Westerns Springs, a freshman majoring in theatre
Master Page: Brody Long of Hawthorn Woods, a freshman majoring in psychology
Anne Page: Miranda Harris of Normal, a junior majoring in theatre management and French
Mistress Ford: Torie Trenter of Montgomery, a junior majoring in theatre
Master Ford: Chris Corrigan of Naperville, a senior majoring in theatre
Sir John Falstaff: Jack Morsovillo of Franklin Park, a junior majoring in theatre
Pistol: Ashlyn Seehafer of St. Charles, a senior majoring in theatre management
Sir Hugh Evans: Sarah Fons of Stoughton, Wis., a junior majoring in theatre
Dr. Caius: Brian McLeod of Addison, a junior majoring in theatre
Mistress Quickly: Colleen DeRosa of Downers Grove, a senior majoring in theatre and speech communication
Roberta Shallow: Maddie Burke of Monroe, Mich., a junior majoring in theatre
Abraham Slender: Kevin Troxell of Des Plaines, a sophomore majoring in English writing
Host of the Garter (Cook): Kara Barrios of Aurora, a junior majoring in theatre
Fenton: Lexii Gravis of Montgomery, a freshman majoring in musical theatre

The crew for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is (role, name, town, year, major):

Director: Carin Silkaitis, associate professor of theatre
Assistant director: Noelle Humbert of Geneva, a senior majoring in theatre and speech communication
Adaptation and dramaturgy: Dave Peterson, visiting assistant professor of theatre
Stage manager: Kate Darby of Huntley, a senior majoring in theatre
A.L.D./lighting crew: Erin Keegan of Downers Grove, a junior majoring in theatre
Assistant sound designer: Kate Sanderson of St. Charles, a senior majoring in theatrical design and technology
Assistant stage manager: Kellyn McGuire
Scenic designer: Dan Stratton
Technical director: Peter O’Neill
Master carpenter: Michelle Reaska
Props master: Emily Schreiber
Light designer: Jon Rippe
Original music and sound designer: Christine Kent
Costume, hair/makeup designer: Kandace Huebner

North Central College’s 2015-2016 Fine and Performing Arts Season is partially sponsored by BMO Harris Bank, Nicor Gas, Advanced Data Technologies, Savant Capital Management, USG Corporation, Monarch Landing, Naperville Special Events and Cultural Amenities Fund, Illinois Arts Council Agency, DuPage Foundation and Naperville Development Partnership.











Photo, above: The “Merry Wives” are played by Torie Tenter ’17 as Mistress Ford (black shirt/ponytail) and Bridget Adams-King ’19 as Mistress Page (pink shirt). They are surrounded by their husbands, played by Brody Long ’19 and Chris Corrigan ’16, plus townspeople.