EWU Theatre performs “The Tempest” with plenty of mischief and laughter


Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

By Colleen Ford, Contributor

Audience members roared with laughter as the mischief and satire of “The Tempest” played out before them. Passionate acting, impeccable choreography and an astounding original score were part of the EWU Theatre’s opening night production. The EWU theatre was completely filled as actors took to the stage to relive Shakespeare’s final masterpiece.

The plot follows Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan who conjures a storm in order to enact revenge on those who wrongfully betrayed him. Mischief, love and chaos ensue as the characters not only find their lost duke, but their humanity, too.

The genre of the play flies from comedy to romance and from musical to satire almost seamlessly. Tales of romance are intertwined with themes of betrayal, loyalty, revenge and forgiveness.

The cast features guest actor Gene Engene playing Prospero. Engene has 35 years of teaching EWU theatre under his belt, as well as directing nearly 100 productions over his 59-year theatre career.  His softly-spoken character radiates power and authority through his skillful oration.

The audience giggled at the young romance blossoming between Miranda and Ferdinand. They laughed with gusto as the islander Caliban vigorously licked the stockinged foot of Stephano the butler, who was laughing in glee. They sat entranced as the mystical whispers of Ariel and her spirits crept over the room and over the audience.

Miranda and Ferdinand gazing into each other’s eyes. Miranda was played by Hannah McLaughlin and Ferdinand was played by Jared Martin | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

“‘The Tempest’ is a journey of redemption and of reconciliation,” Director Jeff Sanders said.

He has been teaching theatre at EWU for a decade and has directed multiple EWU productions, including “Avenue Q,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “Twelfth Night” and more.

“It’s a play about the human capacity of transcendence.”

Junior Dalton Emerson plays one of the mystical spirits which inhabits the island “The Tempest” is set on. In the opening scene he backflips across the stage, much to the audience’s delight.

“You’re in for one hell of a ride,” said Dalton. “You’ll be gripping your sides with laughter. Everyone here is freaking awesome.”

The production has been in the works since winter quarter began in early January, and is comprised of students, faculty and community of EWU.

Ariel, a spirit of the island freed by Prospero. is played by MJ Daly. Daly played Heather in the fall play “Heathers” | Bailey Monteith for The Easterner

Faculty member and choreographer Vincas Greene was brought in to stage the dancing scenes, and composer Chris Beazer was hired to compose original music.

Showtimes for this weekend will be Thursday, March 15 at 5 p.m., and both Friday and Saturday March 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets sell out quickly, said Jeff Sanders, so arrive early to get a seat. Tickets are free to EWU students—$10 for the community—and can be reserved by calling (509) 359-2459.