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New theatre company in Piedmont stages "Macbeth"

Piedmont, OK, location of the new community theatre company: Ensemble Theatre, has just closed its second project, “Macbeth.”

While an ambitious undertaking, it reveals great possibilities for an Amphitheatre in the park along with educational programs. This production of the Scottish play is the brainchild of The Ensemble Theatre and The City of Piedmont as the first production of Shakespeare under the Stars.

Ensemble Theatre director Lia Oldham and her husband have an educational theatre program in Piedmont with year-round classes called Kid Co. Theatre. (Ensemble Theatre’s inaugural production in 2014 was “Steel Magnolias.”)

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a staple of high school English and most everyone is somewhat familiar with the play. In mounting a production it is important to create an excitement that English class destroyed so many years ago.

Anna Holloway successfully directs to accomplish this end. She put together a tough cast and crew. Many of the beautiful costumes are from Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, and Amy Kercher provided invaluable assistance along with Michelle Ferguson and Rhonda Turley. The Arthurian Order of Avalon loaned some stage weapons and armor making the production very realistic and natural but quite safe.

Jeff Ambrosini is Macbeth, and his background as an operatic tenor is revealed in his somewhat melodramatic style. While this interpretation of Macbeth is a little distant from the rest of the cast, his performance actually blends very nicely.

Tonia Sina as Lady Macbeth is heart wrenching, although her scenes with Ambrosini seem somewhat stilted, possibly only because of the stylistic differences. Chase Bradshaw is exact and interprets the role of Malcolm with clarity, establishing a great rapport with his fellow actors and, by extension, the audience. Eric Berger shifts unerringly from friend, to foe, to phantom in his creation of Banquo.

David Fletcher Hall is, as usual, exactly on target for his Macduff. Hall has an edge, hailing from across the pond; his delivery carries crispness particularly suitable to Shakespearean dialogue. Lia Oldham as Lady Macduff gives the audience a wonderful mirrored contrast to Sina’s Lady Macbeth. Not every cast member can be mentioned, but in addition to Doctor, Porter, and Lady in Waiting the weird sisters are a highlight as they should be. They are Zaneen Hotchkiss, Margaux Lantelme, and J. Christine Lanning. There is an extra chill in the air with these three!

There is a great danger in outdoor productions, that being the competition for attention from the elements of nature whether it be chill, or sound, or sight. The blaring sound of an automobile horn or a commercial generator at untimely moments can drown out a performance.

This show has its share of distractions, but the cool heads of director Holloway, assistant director Jessica Newkirk, and stage manager Ruthie Carrico prevail.

Shakespeare under the Stars and Ensemble Theatre will entertain again and, with the continued help of the community, The Piedmont Park Project will also prevail.

For more information, contact (405) 585-6073.

Elizabeth Hurd

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