Emerging from Stormy Waters with “The Tempest”

Great Lakes Theater starts their first in-person performance season since quarantine with Shakespeare

Great Lakes Theater just concluded its run of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” having opened its doors at the Hanna Theater of Playhouse Square for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This show was quite the rainbow to emerge after the storm. In the first few seconds, the audience was left in awe at the marvel of live theater, because of the show’s stunning audio and visual effects.

Opening with choreographed movement, the motion helped the audience feel the rocking of the ship at sea. Incorporating strobe lighting and long flowing fabrics, it is easy to envision the crashing of the waves. At one point, Ferdinando, the queen’s son, is tossed overboard. The fabric waves go overhead, the lights turn green, and all is silent. He reemerges and the chaos of the tempest resumes, easily distinguishing the difference between the two. No point in the show completely parallels the energy of this fantastic spectacle of a beginning.

A storm brews in the Great Lakes Theater production of The Tempest at the Hanna Theatre. Photo courtesy of Ken Blaze

This shipwrecked crew, bound from a royal wedding, finds themselves stranded on a rather strange and not-so deserted island. The island’s inhabitants include a Prospero- a magician and the rightful the Duke of Milan, Miranda- his daughter, Ariel- the spirit that serves Prospero, and Caliban- the native of the island.

The actors in the show all delivered powerful performances. Notable is that of Ariel. He presents an entertaining character who is rather witty and mischievous. And Prospero’s famous speech in act one reminds us that, “we are such stuff as dreams are made of.”

Ariel, portrayed by Joe Wegner, contemplates the future in the Great Lakes Theater production The Tempest. Photo courtesy of Ken Blaze

One of the most entertaining scenes in the play comes right before intermission when drunken crew members, Trinculo and Stephano, stumble upon what they believe to be a dead old fish who turns out to really be the creature, Caliban. He convinces Stephano to become his queen and the two drunken fools assist him in attempting to take back his reign of the island.

Meanwhile, Miranda, falling in love with the third man she’s seen in her life, marries Ferdinand. Though not quite rivaling the esthetic wonder of the opening scene, the wedding is a close second. Ethereal horse-like beasts emerge from the depths of the island and golden specks of light fill the sky, casting elaborate shadows upon the now white fabrics.

Eventually, all the character’s ventures lead them together in one place of meeting. Prospero and his brother, who was on board the ship, make amends after years of resentment. Ariel is freed from Prospero’s command, and peace is restored to the island.

To learn more about Great Lakes Theater and their upcoming shows of the season, please visit their webpage, here.

Author: Trinity Stevens

Trinity Stevens is a current student at Cleveland State University majoring in Dance in Community, minoring in Theatre Studies, and pursuing a certificate in Arts Management.