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Let's go 'Crazy' with BCT's take on Shakespeare

Love comes in many forms and Shakespeare had a take on all of them. Bakersfield Community Theatre's upcoming virtual production "Crazy Love from Shakespeare" explores those fictional relationships.

Rather than presenting one show via Zoom, "Crazy Love" takes a different approach to Shakespeare. Rebecca Worley, the theater's artistic director, came up with the idea of presenting a series of short vignettes presenting love scenes from a variety of the Bard's works. Jan Hefner, BCT's executive director, came on board to direct, enlisting longtime collaborator Julie Gaines, who added additional scenes, expanding the types of love portrayed.

Gaines praised her co-director saying her grasp of technical aspects allowed them to make some of her "crazy ideas" work. 

"We actually have been on the same page almost every single time — it's just how we work together; we make each other better," Gaines wrote in an email.

And the admiration is mutual, with Hefner writing in an email, "For this show, Julie's depth of knowledge and experience with Shakespeare has been invaluable; I've only grown to love it over the last eight years or so."

"Crazy Love" consists of 18 scenes from 12 plays: "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Taming of the Shrew," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Twelfth Night," "Othello," "Romeo & Juliet," "Antony & Cleopatra," "Macbeth," "King Lear," "Hamlet," "Henry V" and "As You Like It."

Hefner said the cast of each scene was asked to choose a theme to make the Shakespeare plays more accessible to all audiences, with or without a deep knowledge of the Bard.

"For instance, the classic balcony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet' finds two teens who identify as part of the goth subculture, while the fairy-dust complications among lovers in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is reminiscent of the central characters of the 'Scooby Doo' cartoon series."

Gaines said each interpretation is special in its own right and the directors couldn't single out a favorite.

Hefner wrote, "Each one is just special in its own right. The costumes and even the backgrounds used in many scenes are straight from the imaginations of our cast members. They have been so engaged with crafting their themes that it's even more fun for us!"

The cast of 16 includes Katie Barnett, Fred Cremer, Trayvon T. Fletcher, Xian Fredericksen, Tim Fromm, Skylar Gaines, Eunice Hartsock, Cathy Henry, Amanda D. Jones, Mike Kroboth, Shelbe McClain, Nicholas Roy Morgan III, Lise Morrow, Victoria Olmos, Faith Thompson and Deva Wiloth.

One advantage of a virtual show is that the performers can come from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. This show features actors from Florida, Oregon, Texas, Maryland and throughout California.

"We are fortunate to have some of Bakersfield's favorite actors in the show, even a few that have moved to another state!" Gaines wrote. "It's so exciting to be able to work with everyone again — I love them all so much!"

Gaines said she hopes audiences develop a greater appreciation of Shakespeare from the show.

"I would like people to leave saying, 'That Shakespeare is not as difficult to understand or as boring as I thought. That was really a very talented cast that made it all so much fun!'

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.