Review: 'The Tempest' by Sacred Heart University Theatre Arts Program

Nancy Sasso Janis

  • Connecticut Critic
  • Connecticut Critics Circle

“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in it!” 

Fairfield, CT - The theatre department at Sacred Heart University launches a large production of ‘The Tempest,’ thought to be Shakespeare's final play, this weekend on their mainstage, The Edgerton Center for Performing Arts. The theatre students and their director John Flaherty have decided to set the classic piece in the roaring twenties and the result is a well-rehearsed production that is visually beautiful. 

SHU student Patrick Robinson leads the cast in the role of Prospero, the Duke of Milan who has been banished to an island with his beautiful daughter Miranda. With magical powers, he and his spirit slave Ariel pull many a string to avenge the wrongs that have been done to him, beginning with a fierce thunderstorm that is convincingly created on the stage. The incidental music has a twenties flair and the costumes designed by Nicole Jablonski (‘Tick, Tick...Boom!’)  suggest the era as well. The students in the theatre department worked together to design the impressive set which features video projections (by Nick Patino) that surround the static pieces of rock. 

Lighting designed by Jamie Burnett added clarity. The actors worked without body microphones and all projected well enough to reach the microphones on the edge of the stage. There was a glitch in the storm sounds that made me think that the storm had ended every time it repeated and there was a flash in one of the projections that was slightly annoying, but otherwise the technical aspects worked well. Some a cappella singing was also done well. The choreography by Olivia Druckrey was fine, but included a cast dance at the end that made curtain call a bit confusing. 

The actors with various levels of theatrical experience all performed well as they recited their challenging Shakespearian lines. “Art isn’t easy” and tackling Shakespeare is a challenge that is most appropriate for university students studying theatre.  

On opening night, Mr. Robinson gave a masterful performance as the protagonist Prospero, a loving father on a mission. He aged up and commanded the stage as he directed the action of all of the other characters on the island. Elise Bean, a senior student at SHU, was also strong in the role of the compassionate Miranda, the only human female in the play.  Freshman Henecy Gomez took on the role of the loyal spirit Ariel with conviction, while freshman Courtney O’Shea, senior Adreyanua Jean-Louis, junior Genny Baratta, and freshman Theresa Torony played nymphs with both makeup and masks.  

Freshman Andrew Patino played the besotted Ferdinand and senior Alex DeChino was the power-hungry Antonio, Prospero’s brother. SHU senior Dan Murphy was strong in the role of the old, honest lord Gonzalo. Freshman Justin Weigel played Ferdinand’s father King Alonso and junior Chris Faccenda was Francisco. Andrew Peloquin, a freshman, was Adrian. Freshman Anthony Mellow-Valle played the master, and sophomore Kevin Carlson was the boatswain of the ill-fated vessel. 

Junior Sean Whelan took on the role of Sebastian, King Alonso’s brother. Freshman Jack Connelly was the jester Trinculo in his SHU debut, and senior Nick Patino was his comic sidekick, the drunken butler Stephano. Bradly Taylor, in his fourth production at SHU, played the “monster” Caliban in a shredded costume and effective make up. 

‘The Tempest’ runs November 17th - 20th at the Edgerton Center for Performing arts. Tickets are just $5 for the general public when you donate a can of food or a toy at the box office. Tickets are $1 for SHU students who donate. Call the box office Monday - Friday from 12 PM - 4 PM for more information, or to purchase tickets.

Pictured: (from left) Andrew Patino as Ferdinand, Elise Bean as Miranda and Patrick Robinson as Prospero in 'The Tempest' Photo by SHU Theatre Arts Program