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UNT updates Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor

UNT is putting its own twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. The play will feature a different time period and a diverse cast, and some roles will be in different genders than originally written. Cast members include Amanda Canaday as Mistress Page, Austin Lyles as Falstaff and Jenna Davis-Jones as Mistress Ford. Photo by Amanda Breaz.

The Department of Dance and Theatre will present the show at 7:30 p.m. April 21-23, 28-30 and 2 p.m. April 24, May 1 at the University Theatre, Radio Television Film and Performing Arts Building.

“It will be a new experience to see Shakespeare presented in that time period,” junior theatre major Austin Lyles said. “It’s going to be extremely entertaining.”

The story focuses on Sir John Falstaff (Lyles), who comes to the town of Windsor to seduce two wives – Mrs. Page (sophomore theatre major Amanda Canady) and Mrs. Ford (sophomore theatre major Jenna Davis-Jones). But the husbands catch whiff of the plans. Soon, the whole town is caught up in romantic shenanigans.

Director Valerie Hauss-Smith, an adjunct professor of theatre at UNT, is setting the play in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“It was interesting because it was during the beginning of the women’s right movement,” Hauss-Smith said. “Women were affirming themselves demanding the right to vote. They were starting to ride bicycles, so they were starting to wear bloomers.”

These “new women” brought pushback from older people, like Falstaff.

 “He’s stuck in his ways about gender,” Lyles said. “It changes why women are taking things into their own hands.”

One of those women is the “host of the Garter Inn” – a role originally written for a man.

The host, played by senior theater major Tori Windham, is a business owner who meddles in people’s affairs and is a bit mischievous, but with good intentions.

“She’s typically one of the guys but she’s smarter than anyone else around her,” she said.

But it’s not just the plot that Windham likes about performing Shakespeare.

“His words are so much fun,” she said. “You hear it in a new way every day. It never ceases to amaze me how many meanings he can put into one phrase.”

And the story has a good moral -- to value and not underestimate people.

“If you love to laugh, if you like to be entertained, if you want a night off from seeing from the TV, it’s going to be a great way to escape the world,” Windham said.

-Courtney Taylor, news promotions

Photo by Amanda Breaz

Posted on: Sat 09 April 2016

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