At the Madrigal the audience is part of the show

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Pictured here is the cast of Canal Winchester High School’s 2019 Madrigal production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”

A story about young lovers takes to the stage at Canal Winchester High School Valentine’s Day weekend for the next production in an over three-decades long running of the school’s annual Madrigal dinner.

Approximately 120 students—both on and off-stage—are involved in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. and Feb.16 at 2 p.m. The show was last produced in 2009 by Director Todd Phillips, who has helmed all of the productions over 31 years.

Phillips has approximately a dozen Shakespearean comedies in his repertoire and tries to add enough time in between performances of a play to cultivate a brand new audience for the story.

“‘Much Ado About Nothing’ tells the story of a young couple and the rumor mill that nearly destroys their relationship,” said Phillips. “This is one of Shakespeare’s great timeless plays. Our high school students can really sympathize with the lead characters as they battle the misconceptions that control their lives.”

The story this year takes place in Tuscany, Italy, so the production includes an Italian food theme featuring chicken Parmesan. The ticket prices are $15 for the Saturday night performance and $10 for the Sunday matinee.

The 2020 performances feature 18 actors, more than 100 singers, dancers, Renaissance musicians and a sword fight.

“Our favorite aspect of the Madrigal Dinner is the audience participation,”said Phillips. “Our guests can expect to be drawn into the story. They are in Tuscany. They are members of the court. They are experiencing the story along with our performers.”

According to Phillips, he spends most of the summer reading and re-reading the play for the coming school year and contemplates design, costuming and staging ideas. Each original script is trimmed down from its original length by half. In addition, Phillips said he watches as many performances as he can find of the play over a six-month period.

While he’s done the same show two or even three times, Phillips said the fun part comes in watching students discover Shakespeare’s great literature and allowing them to take part in the creative process of getting the script on stage.
For more information, call 614-920-2680 or email CWHSDrama@gmail.com.

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