The funny side of Shakespeare

Dinner theater opens Friday in Eagle River



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From left, Krystal DeJesus, Andrew Smith and Levi Musgrave act out a scene from “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” during a rehearsal Saturday, Feb. 9. The show opens Friday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River.

MIKE NESPER

How many actors does it take to perform all of Shakespeare’s plays in one night?

Just three.

Andrew Smith, Levi Musgrave and Krystal DeJesus will be tasked with achieving this feat as they put on “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” starting Friday, Feb. 15 at Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River.

The Alaska Fine Arts Academy is hosting four nights of dinner theater with the parody serving as entertainment.

The production should have the audience laughing nonstop, said Smith, who compared it to Monty Python.

“It’s a hysterical show,” he said.

While its aim is side-splitting humor, the show also builds the audience’s relationship with the well-known playwright, Smith said.

“It really does put you in touch with (Shakespeare),” he said. “This show has a way of getting to the heart of it.”

This production, though hilarious, does portray themes from the serious works being parodied, Musgrave said.

“You understand the Shakespeare in it,” he said. “It’s just fun to see how much sense it makes.

“It gives you a pretty good idea of all the plays and you develop a joy for it,” Musgrave said.

The show humanizes Shakespeare, Smith said.

“Everyone tends to put him up on a pedestal,” he said. “This brings him down — he is one of us.”

A scheduling conflict at AFAA’s Eleanor Braendel Theater forced the threesome to find another venue — which proved fortuitous for the audience-participatory show.

Having the actors just feet from the crowd makes for a more willing audience, Smith said.

“They are a lot more open to laughing out loud,” he said.

Putting on a three-person production is exhausting, Smith said. Playing multiple roles means countless costume changes in only a matter of seconds.

“It’s just constant running around,” he said.

For DeJesus, who typically directs, Friday will mark her first leading role in an AFAA production. She’s only ever had one cameo in a past play.

DeJesus said the Chugiak-Eagle River community can expect four great nights of comedy.

“The show will sell itself,” she said.

The play has been an enjoyable endeavor, Smith said.

“It’s been a really fun opportunity,” he said.

He expects the laughs to continue throughout the night, especially when Musgrave dons a red dress and blonde wig during the Romeo and Juliet scenes.

“It’s a fun show,” Smith said.

“The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” runs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16 and Feb. 22-23 with each show starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $38 in advance and $40 at the door.

To buy tickets, contact the AFAA box office at 694-8909 or email frontdesk@akfinearts.org.

Tickets can also be purchased online at www.akfinearts.org.

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