WAIMEA — Despite its name, watching a performance of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” doesn’t require an English degree.
“Do not be intimidated. We’re just up there being goofballs and trying to make the best of it, and trying to connect with the audience,” actor Kelly Juelsgaard said. “It’s fun, it’s fast, and they don’t really hit you over the head too hard with the Shakespeare stuff.”
Jeff Hopkins, Tyler Tucker, Chris Simons and Juelsgaard all play exaggerated versions of themselves trying to recreate 37 Shakespeare plays in 97 minutes in Waimea Community Theatre’s production of the comedy “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” The play will open at 7 p.m. Friday at the Parker School Theatre in Waimea, with performances following at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“If you love Shakespeare you will love this show, and if you hate Shakespeare you will love this show,” director Sarah Elliott said. “It really is just a tiny bit of the beautiful language and the funny plots and a lot of these guys improvising, talking to the audience and talking to each other.”
Hopkins, one of only four actors in the play, agrees.
“I hate Shakespeare. I despise Shakespeare,” Hopkins said. “If this was a real Shakespeare play, I wouldn’t do it.”
Famous Shakespeare characters, including, Romeo, Juliet, Hamlet and Othello, all make appearances in the twisted versions of their respective plays.
“The show does not require anyone to know anything about Shakespeare to still be funny, but it is enhanced to those that do know Shakespeare,” said Simons. “You can tell the guys that wrote it really love Shakespeare, and they’re poking fun at it.”
After this weekend, the troupe takes the play to Honokaa People’s Theatre for two performances, at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 23 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24. They wrap up the comedy in Kailua-Kona, with a 7 p.m. performance Friday, March 29 at the new Pirates Outreach Community Center on Hualalai Road. They will also put on an abridged version of the (“Abridged”) play for the students of Hawaii Preparatory Academy.
The play is Elliott’s debut as a director for Waimea Community Theatre, where she is usually found on stage. Her introduction to Shakespeare was through the group, when she was in a production of “The Merchant of Venice” at the age of 10. Her four actors are all new to the Waimea theater scene, and their chemistry helps bring out the comedy in the play.
“We have not stopped laughing since the very first rehearsal,” Elliott said. “At the read through, we were all just cracking up. Honestly, it’s been so fun all the way through. It’s been very collaborative, too, they come up with a lot of new stuff.”
The small cast has allowed the actors to get to know each other and play off each other’s lines to improvise, adding new material and jokes to a play that was first on stage in 1987.
“I kind of like watching other people struggle with their lines,” Tucker said. “They’ll say it wrong, or they’ll say it differently, and surprisingly, a lot of the time, we keep the mistakes.”
Info: Tickets for all Waimea Community Theatre performances of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” can be purchased at waimeacommunitytheatre.org and are $15/$20.