by Fred P. Gusoff
We’ve all heard of “Macbeth,” the powerful classic tragedy by William Shakespeare set in Scotland that shows what happens when evil triumphs over good.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, get ready for “Mmmbeth,” a spoof of “Macbeth” that, if all’s well that ends well, will leave the audience in stitches when it plays in the neighborhood this week.
Mariangela Saavedra, founder of the Mt. Airy-based Casabuena Cultural Productions, is directing the one-act, hour-long spoof, which will be performed this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 5, 6 and 7, 7:30 p.m., at Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane.
Not surprisingly, the cast of “Mmmbeth” has a heavy local flavor.
Take Jared Taylor, for instance. The 12-year-old Mt. Airy resident plays Lord Macduff.
“He’s the good guy. I end up killing Macbeth,” Jared says. “My character is very good at acting and getting good lines.”
Although Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is deadly serious, “Mmmbeth” is a comedy. Jared says his character sometimes gets frustrated when others steal his lines. “A lot of the ideas make the play so much funnier. There are a couple of lines where everybody is just making things up.”
In addition to some ad-libbing, the play is heavy on props and lighting but not costumes. A seventh-grader at the C.W. Henry School, Jared has worked on the stage crew in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” last year, and he did some acting in “Johnny Appleseed” way back in second grade. He also has been involved in some mini-plays at his synagogue, the Germantown Jewish Centre.
As opening night approaches, Jared is eager to get the show on the road.
“I’m nervous, but I’m mostly excited because the play has morphed into something very funny,” he insists.
Jared admits to being a bit concerned about something not uncommon among comedic performers — laughing too much and being too loud during the show. But, he noted, that sometimes even happens to performers on live TV, particularly “Saturday Night Live.”
“If something’s very funny, you can’t help but laugh,” Jared says.
Jared is not the only Taylor to land a coveted spot in “Mmmbeth.” His little sister Lia plays Twit, the youngest of three sister witches. “She’s a bit crazy and insane,” Jared says of the character. “My sister does a pretty good job of it.”
“She’s an annoying little sister,” Lia admits. “You can’t get rid of her because you can’t kill her.” The 9-year-old Lia describes the connection between her witchy characters and the rest of the cast as a “love-hate relationship.” A third-grader at C.W. Henry, Lia expects friends, family members and teachers to be in the audience this week.
Lia says she wants to be an actress, interior designer or teacher when she grows up — but not all three at one time. She’s off to a good start with the acting. She started performing at age 3 with ballet, and at age 6 she strutted her stuff as an angel in “The Nutcracker.” She also took drama classes at the Arden Theatre in Center City and at Allens Lane’s summer camp.
“Mmmbeth” is not for youngsters only. Stephanie Kernisan, 26, plays Queen Duncan, the Queen of Scotland who eventually is murdered by Macbeth — well, sort of. “My character refuses to die,” says Kernisan. “Anytime I show up, somebody notices I’m not supposed to be there.”
The real “Macbeth” is five acts and can last three-and-a-half or four hours. Not so “Mmmbeth,” says Kernisan. “It’s like ‘Macbeth’ abridged,” she says.
Rehearsals with the play’s children and adults have been a lot of fun, she says.
“A lot of the adults are working on terrible Scottish accents,” says Kernisan, a graduate of the University of North Carolina who moved to Mt. Airy eight months ago and has worked with Saavedra on stage productions of “The Rocky Horror Show” and “The Insanity of Mary Girard.”
Jim Broyles, who plays Banquo, Macbeth’s best friend and fellow soldier in the Scottish Army, says the full cast of 10 has been rehearsing two or three times a week since late April. The 37-year-old moved to Mt. Airy from New Orleans six years ago and has appeared in local productions including “The Importance of Being Earnest” at The Stagecrafters Theater in Chestnut Hill earlier this year.
“I’ve loved acting since I was a kid,” says Broyles, whose first performance was at age 6 in a stage adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.” He’s hoping for “raucous laughter” from the “Mmmbeth” audience this week.
Preview performance: June 5 at 7:30 p.m., all tickets are $10.
For tickets or more information, call 773-633-6402 or visit www.casabuenacp.com.