The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

By Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield

Directed by Dustin J. Martin
February 2 to 18, 2018

Read the Review:
Waukesha Freeman, Wisconsin Theater Spotlight

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Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

JJ Gatesman

Nicholas Callan Haubner

Jillian Smith

Production Staff 


Dustin J. Martin

Scenic Designer / Master Carpenter

Michael Talaska

Stage Manager

Katie Danner

Lighting Designer

Chris Meissner

Sound Designer

Keith Handy

Costume Designer

Dana Brzezinski

Properties Designer

Shawn Spellman

Condensing Shakespeare into something funny

Waukesha Civic speeds up The Bard By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
Feb. 8, 2018

What a hoot! Whether you’re a Shakespeare fan or not, you’ve probably been exposed to some of his famous plays during your high school English classes.

In Waukesha Civic’s creative take on The Bard, you’ll find yourself re-introduced to his genius and fully entertained by the abandon and skill of the three actors that take on this irreverent and speedy journey through 37 of his works.

Though they spend the most time on “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet,” they manage to touch upon many of the dramatic devices and recurring themes that characterize his plays. Lots of dead bodies around, to be sure.

The three playwrights - Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield - have also written several other successful parodies, including one of the Bible (one that caused quite the dramatic protest in Delafield several years ago). All their works are strong, irreverent but affectionate satires.

The show is a mix of narration, acting and audience participation.

As the show progresses, one can feel the growing interest and involvement of the participants on and off stage. In the 1960s we referred to such events as “happenings.”

The amount of energy and ingenuity expended by these three actors is nothing short of amazing. Nickolas Callan Haubner, JJ Gatesman and Jillian Smith are all pros and handle themselves with aplomb in all instances. Haubner has become a ubiquitous presence in many local theaters, a very welcome one I might add; the other two, less so, but I’d certainly enjoy seeing them again.

Besides being able to master Shakespeare’s lines, all three are also adept at improvisation, which they interject at will, making references to current affairs and local topics. Doing a rap version of “Othello” and using a football game as a metaphor for the history plays, using a crown for the football is quite ingenious, as is replicating “Titus Andronicus” as a cooking show.

One of the funniest audience participation stunts involved a Freudian analysis of Ophelia, in which we were divided into the id, the ego the superego and the unconscious. Another clever ruse is having Haubner and Gatesman run off, stranding Smith with trying to share Shakespeare’s sonnets - all 154 of them condensed on a 3 x 5 card - to keep the audience occupied until they return.

There are so many funny moments, it is impossible to cite them all, but one contrasting surprise was JJ Gatesman’s delivery of the famous soliloquy, “What a Piece of Work Is Man,” which made us realize again that despite being the butt of many a joke, Shakespeare was a genius, and the breadth and depth of his work will never be replicated. We also were treated to the fact that actor Gatesman, besides being a terrific comic, could be a serious Shakespearian actor. Bravo to all three actors and their many gifts.

The costumer (Dana Brzezinski) and property designer (Keith Handy) were kept busy with all the required, rapid changes, and director Dustin J. Martin certainly met his challenging task, and I suspect had lots of fun doing so.

I’m tempted to go again because I’m sure that no two performances will be the same with this rather loose show and very versatile actors.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2017

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FEB. 5, 2018

If you think “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” at Waukesha Civic Theatre is anything like any Shakespeare play you’ve every scene, you’d be quite wrong.

Granted, you will hear some of Shakespeare’s well-known lines such as “Parting is such sweet sorrow” from “Romeo and Juliet” and a whole host of nuggets from “Hamlet” including “To be or not to be” and “Something is rotten in Denmark.” But beyond that, the parody speeds along with Three Stooges-like slapstick adding currency with references ranging from Netflix and texting to Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods. The performers’ “personal” commentary, such as calling Shakespeare’s layers in Hamlet “sucky,” is interspersed with the references.

The show, written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, romps among the Bard’s 37 comedies, tragedies and histories with glee.

Under the direction of Dustin J. Martin, WCT’s trio of actors -- Nicholas Callan Haubner, JJ Gatesman and Jillian Smith -- handle the hilarious script, and audience participation, wonderfully. The opening night audience showed their appreciation with laughter, groans and, when called upon, good-natured amateur performances.

The play's the audience
The three stars have to handle a sea of lines – some modern, some Shakespearean, in wacky combinations – plus loads of physicality, costume changes, and quick thinking to react to the audience and improvised lines. The trio are totally up to the challenge and appear to be having the time of their lives.

Even before the show starts, Haubner appeals to members of the audience to come forth to play The Bard (no lines, just looking thoughtful at his writing desk) for a few moments at the opening of the show. One of three volunteers is chosen based upon audience applause after a round of questioning.

Haubner and company play themselves and open the show with some background on the playwright. Gatesman comes out of the audience (actually, he was sitting right next to me) to read from his cell phone as the explanation melds into a biography of Adolf Hitler before returning to Shakespeare.

And so starts the wild ride that sends the audience hurtling through Shakespeare as if on a carnival ride.

First up is “Romeo and Juliet,” which includes Juliet (Gatesman with ill-fitting blond wig) playing the famous balcony scene on Haubner’s shoulders and also includes the trio rocking out with a “Romeo and Juliet are Dead” heavy metal tune.

Haubner plays the Gory Gourmet in “Titus Andronicus,” with unlikely lines such as “I even chopped up some Ladies’ Fingers” and “It’s finger lickin’ good.” You get the idea.

'Othello' rap
Next up is one of the highlights of the first act: a rap song – hilariously performed by the trio – to summarize “Othello”

All of the comedies are homogenized (which is explained by saying they all have similar elements – mistaken identities, ships in storms, etc.) into a silly puppet show presented by Gatesman and Smith that includes Barbie dolls. “Macbeth” becomes two Scottish golfers, complete with kilts and tams, who duel with their clubs.

During the “Julius Caesar” skit, Gatesman – whose characters have a penchant for feigning vomiting during the show, often in the audience --wonders “What the hell is the Ides of March?”

Little known of Shakespeare’s plays, such as “Troilus and Cressida” and “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” also merit mentions. Gatesman turns the latter play into “The Two Mobile Kinsmen” with references to technology moguls Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Speedy 'Hamlet'
Gatesman questions Shakespeare’s histories, wondering why Shakespeare can’t be more like sports. And voila! King Lear, Richard II and Henry VIII are suddenly playing football in a rollicking scene.

The true highlight of the show is Act II, which features a retelling of “Hamlet.” This version includes Haubner’s big speech, which turns into an homage to “General Hospital” and its star characters Luke and Laura, as well as a “Psycho”-like stabbing scene complete with flickering lighting and sound effects.

Especially effective was one audience member’s playing of Ophelia, while the rest of the audience plays her subconscious, shouting out a trio of issues she’s dealing with until the stage Ophelia finally screams. It’s great fun, and a great way to understand one of Shakespeare’s best-known characters.

Putting a cherry on the Shakespeare sundae is a trio of warp speed presentations of the trio’s “Hamlet,” fast, faster, then backwards, much like the endings of Ken Ludwig’s plays “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Leading Ladies.”

All three performers are perfectly in tune with the tone of the show and play off each other wonderfully to maximize the humor.

Splendid trio
Haubner, as always, is totally in control of his character – a supposed Shakespeare scholar. His marvelous stage presence helps keep the show together throughout the madcap adventures. He can give a scene gravitas one minute, and quickly segue into a parody to great effect.

Gatesman is lithe and long-limbed, which adds to his character’s many physical scenes that he performs splendidly. Gatesman is not only running, jumping and dying all over the stage, but in the audience as well. His Fitbit would truly get a workout.

Smith also doesn’t miss a beat of the fast-paced comedy. Especially enjoyable is her phone conversation with her two stage compadres, who have gone missing after Gatesman becomes nervous about presenting Shakespeare’s greatest work and runs out of the theater.

A simple set in rich blue hues by scenic designer Michael Talaska gives a fine backdrop for the performers, while Chris Meissner’s creative lighting enhances each scene.

So even if you’re not into Shakespeare, you’ll find this show a lot of fun. Plus, you’ll probably learn a few things about The Bard and his plays. If you like Shakespeare, you’ll appreciate the gags and the humor even more.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required. When purchasing online, please be sure to choose the Adult ticket type. The group discount will then be applied automatically to orders of 10 or more tickets.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Some Guy

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