Directed by James Dunn
One of the most successful productions ever to come out of Marin County was Jim Dunn’s Wild West The Taming of the Shrew. It’s no wonder Jim maintains a warm spot in his heart for this gem which originated at the College of Marin and went on to earn a series of accolades, special performances and remountings. And can it be a wonder that Jim wanted to enjoy his creation one last – he claims! – time?
In some ways, this show was easy to produce, as Jim knew exactly its rhythms, sight gags, and casting needs. In other ways, it was daunting, with a huge reputation to live up to and attempt to exceed.
Brady Boyd, David Moore, Gregory Moore, Lee Simmons
Marika Cotter, Evangeline Crittenden, Stephanie Lytle,
Artistic Director – Robert Currier
*Member of Actor’s Equity Association
Fortunately, we couldn’t have asked for finer actors than Marcia Pizzo and Paul Sulzman to bring to life Shakespeare’s extraordinary couple, Kate and Petruchio. Every detail was lovingly tended to, from the décor on the walls of Baptista’s saloon to the selection of tunes pounded out by the honky tonk piano player Bret Anderson and lovely fiddle whiz Marika Cotter.
The Civil War era American flag was replete with bullet holes, and a professional cowgirl was brought in to teach whip cracking and pistol twirling. The production did not fail to delight. By the company’s curtain call rendition of ‘Yellow Rose of Texas,‘ the audience was completely enthralled by the Wild West charm. Shakespeare spoken with cowboy accents – you betcha! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jim Dunn’s Wild West Shrew had its first production at the College of Marin in 1970 in the intimate Studio Theatre. The British Consul General in San Francisco was invited to attend and fell in love with the production; he wangled an invitation to perform the play at the 1971 Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was a smash hit, receiving a Fringe first prize. A command performance was requested for Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret and other members of the Royal family and it was hailed by the British press and reported on the international wire services.
Many other productions have followed:
1970 – College of Marin, Kentfield CA
1971 – Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland
1974 – Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts, Santa Maria CA
1979 – Cannery Theatre, San Francisco (a 5-month commercial run)
1986 – Monterey Shakespeare Festival, Carmel CA
1995 – Denver Center Theatre Company, Colorado
1997 – Old Globe Theatre, San Diego CA
2004 – Marin Shakespeare Company, San Rafael CA
“Corny, irreverent and a virtual round-up of references to every cowboy movie and TV show under the Western sun, Dunn’s ‘Shrew’ is something of a Bay Area theatrical landmark…genial, engaging and very funny…Kate and Petruchio are very well matched. Paul Sulzman’s Petruchio is every inch an unapologetic fortune hunter, a Clint Eastwood style (in manner and dress) frontier mercenary accompanied by grungy, leader-and-bandoleer-clad henchman-servant Grumio (Jonathan Gonzalez as a very funny cross between Eli Wallach in ‘The Good, the Bad‘ and Alfonso Bedoya in ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre‘)…Marcia Pizzo’s lanky tomboy Kate is a force of nature, rough, combative, swaggering in her boots…solid, inventive performances of a number of players – Jarion Monroe’s wry, hard-drinking Sheriff Baptista, Ian Swift’s remarkably crusty old Gremio, Stephen Dietz’s hilariously sleepy drunk – keeps his ‘Shrew’ rolling pleasantly, often hilariously on into to the sunset.”
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“The Wild West circus that is James Dunn’s sagebrush framed ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is paying a visit to Forest Meadows Amphitheatre for the next few weeks and if exuberant physical comedy fits your taste, you won’t want to miss it…I’m happy to report that the old gal looks mighty handsome in her dotage, having lost none of the originality, satirical wit, and crowd-pleasing energy that endeared her to previous fans. In fact, I would go so far as to call this cowboy parody one of the most successful ‘concept’ adaptations (and there have been many) of Shakespeare that I have ever seen…there isn’t a weakness in what is an extremely ingratiating cast.”
Charles Brousse, Marin Independent Journal
“Living up to a legend is hard…Yet Director James Dunn, who has shepherded his production throughout this country and abroad, isn’t afraid of competing – even with himself. And on a warm August night in Forest Meadows, Dunn and Shakespeare and a fine ensemble of actors..make it all shine once again.”
Lee Brady, Pacific Sun
“Dunn’s ‘Shrew’ is a masterpiece of surprises, stereotypes of the Wild West colliding neatly with stereotypes of essential Shakespeare….The odd contrast reveals Dunn’s genius.”
Olga Azar, Marin Scope
“…this Shrew has led as charmed a life as any heroine (or hero) of The Bard’s romantic comedies….genuine uproarious spectacle.”
Ken Bullock, Commuter Times
“The current production is blessed with the rambunctious performances of Marcia Pizzo as Kate and Paul Sulzman (too long absent from Bay Area stages) as the macho shrew-tamer Petruchio.”
Gene Price, San Francisco Bay Times
“…a rollicking good ride. Don’t hold your horses. Saddle up for the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre at Dominican University in San Rafael to see this fun show.”
Priscilla Tripp, The Tiburon Ark