Featherbrained Comedy Set for Nov. 4

(from L) Idyllwild Arts students Paul, Jake and Chase pause before they hang show posters around Idyllwild.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“… for the birds!” the next comedy by the Idyllwild Arts Theater Department, may be director Howard Shangraw’s “feather in his cap.”

It’s a new adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy, “The Birds,” an ancient Greek play from around 14 B.C. in which the birds build a city in the sky, in hopes of reclaiming their rightful status between the gods and the humans.

Before you start thinking that this adaptation is going to sound like old English Shakespeare, remember that “for the birds” is a modern take written by Howard Shangraw.

For one thing, Howard is a great writer, actor, director who heads up the Theater Department at Idyllwild Arts.

About three years ago, he wrote a comedy called “The People vs. B.B. Wolf,”(B.B. standing for “big” and “bad”) which was performed by the South Coast Repertory Theater and the Idyllwild Arts Theater Department. Howard received a Target grant that helped them tour 3-4 public schools.

“All the kids loved it,” said Nelms MacKelvain, who had helped Howard with the show’s piano arrangements.

“Expect the unexpected,” said Jake, a theater major, as he hung “for the birds” posters around Idyllwild. “It’s going to be fun, colorful and a modern take on the play.”

Naturally, the play is going to be about birds, but these birds will have flair and personality. Some might even resemble notable TV stars, such as Suze Orman and Judge Judy.

The stage at the IAF Theatre on campus is not set up for any flying acrobatics or trapeze stunts. However, Todd Carpenter and his crew will likely improvise.

Chase said that he jumps up and down on a mini trampoline, giving the impression of a bird in flight.

Jake holds up the show's poster

When it comes to costumes, “Think more a Las Vegas spectacle than Shakespeare,” offered Kimber, a junior in the chorus.

Paul, a senior fashion design major, plans to help out Minnie Walters, the school’s costume designer. Last year, he received a grant to host his own fashion show at Idyllwild Arts.

Although Paul has never sewn with feathers, he’s had some first-hand experience with birds.

“On Mother’s Day last year, Evie, my mom’s cat, brought in a dead bird,” Paul said. “My mom told Evie to get that disgusting thing out of the kitchen, so Evie flung it at her face!”

Paul said he’s looking forward to helping out with the costumes, but nothing has been decided yet.

Until modern times, Ornamental feathers were more widely used by males than females. Princes and nobelmen tried to outdo each other in finding the most colorful and expensive plumage to put in their hats.

Robin Hood, the famous outlaw, always had a feather in his cap.

Although it’s a comedy, “for the birds” will also have music.

“But it’s not a musical,” warns Kimber. “There’s a difference. It’s a comedy with music.”

She explained that, in a musical, the music moves the plot along, but in this comedy, music is just an “addition.”

Some favorite bird-centric tunes, such as “Rockin’ Robin” will be performed, but not Michael Jackson’s version, they all insisted.

They also let it slip that there will be a few guest appearances.

“We’re all sworn to secrecy,” they said. “Howard wants it to be a surprise.”

“for the birds,” a new adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy, “The Birds,” will be performed by the Idyllwild Arts Theater Department Nov. 4-6 at the IAF Theatre on campus. Show times for Friday and Saturday will be at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday will be at 2 p.m.

Each performance is free and open to the public. For more information, call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2200, or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Oct 11, 2011 @ 16:51







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