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‘Measure For Measure’s’ multifaceted cast promises ambiguous dark comedy

Multi−talented cast features mixture of actors

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 22:02

If you walk into the Balch Arena Theater tonight, you will be welcomed by beautiful concrete pillars and concrete flooring — the set for the Drama Department’s spring production of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” directed by Sheriden Thomas.

A lot of work goes into putting on a show of this scale, and the unforeseen weather circumstances surrounding Blizzard Nemo have made the process a lot more difficult for the cast and crew of “Measure for Measure.”

“Both the actors and the production team lost time [this weekend] because of the blizzard,” said production stage manager Esti Bernstein, a senior majoring in English. “The weekend before we open, the actors are in the theatre [from] 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. We lost our 12−hour Saturday work day because the building was closed, but we were able to get into the building on Sunday.”

The twenty person cast — consisting of a mixture of three seniors, one junior, seven sophomores and nine freshman — is definitely multi−talented, as is proven by the haunting musical number in the play. The scene with the musical number is present in the original Shakespearean script, but sophomore Grace Oberhofer, who also plays Julieta, composed the poignant melody for the song that is sung with beautiful harmonies during a candlelight vigil to create a lovely yet melancholic mood.

In addition to “Measure for Measure’s” score, the audience will also enjoy the cast’s original costumes, which are a mix of both modern clothes and more period−appropriate garments. For example, the executioner, played by senior Michael Newman wears a gothic black outfit and eyeliner while Mistress Overdone, played by freshman Evelyn Reidy, wears a beautiful red olden−day corset dress. All the elements of the production work together in the Balch Arena to give off the dark−comedy mood that this Shakespeare play intends to have.

“Measure” follows the unfortunate story of Claudio, played by sophomore Marcus Hunter, who is unjustly sentenced to death. His sister Isabella, played by sophomore Allison Benko, does everything that she can throughout the play to save him. Although it is frequently classified as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, “Measure for Measure” has also been described as one of the more problematic plays to classify, as it contains several darker elements which are often associated with tragedies. This ambiguity is just another element that will make watching this drama department production even more interesting.

“Measure for Measure” will be running tonight through Saturday, Feb. 16, and then again next week from Feb. 21 to 23 in the Balch Arena Theatre. Performances start at 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased in person from the Aidekman Arts Center Box Office or by telephone at 617−627−3493. Tickets are $7 with a Tufts I.D. and $12 for the general public.

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