The curtain has risen on a new season of creative theater from Sweet Tea Shakespeare. First up is Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” co-directed by Jeremy Fiebig, Jessica Osnoe and Jennifer Pommerenke. The production is loaded with talented performances and inspired staging and runs through Sept. 8.
The action of “The Comedy of Errors” is derived from a classic case of mistaken identity. The play follows the exploits of two sets of twins who were accidentally separated at birth.
Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse travel to Ephesus. Little do they know, Ephesus is the home of their identical twin brothers – Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus. As the two sets of brothers are identical and answer to the same forename, the stage is set for an incessantly-escalating series of misunderstandings and hijinks. To divulge much more of the story would cheapen the experience of seeing it play out live.
The cast of this show its strength. Here, STS employs cross-gender and cross-race casting to great effect, allowing the production to get the best possible performances out of its talented group of actors and actresses. Antipholus of Syracuse is played by the hysterical Taj Allen, and his identical twin from Ephesus is played by the wonderful Traycie Kuhn-Zapata. Jessica Osnoe and Jen Pommerenke bring their comedic chemistry to the Dromio brothers, while Katherine O’Connell brings Adriana’s ever-growing and under- standable confusion to life.
The cast is rounded out by an ensemble as good as any ever put up by the company, including strong performances from Laura Voytko, Evan Bridenstine, Jamonte Williams, Linda Flynn, Aaron Alderman, Jeremy Fiebig and Gabriel Terry.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., but audiences are really missing out on an essential aspect of the Sweet Tea experience if they arrive that late. Each production is preceded by a short show made up of music and sketches featuring the STS house band, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers. Pre-shows begin around 6:45 p.m. and run until the main play begins. The songs performed are acoustic renditions of recognizable tunes, and the company is stacked with incredibly talented vocalists and musicians. The pre-show is absolutely worth the effort of arriving early.
This season promises to be another strong showing from the company. After “The Comedy of Errors” closes, look forward to produc- tions of OthelLIT – an adaptation of the classic “Othello,” “Behold: A Folk Christmas Cantata,” the popular musical “Sweeney Todd,” “Maid Marian,” “Richard III” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
STS is one of the hidden gems of Fayetteville, and it is a shame that so many people in our community seem to be unaware of the work being done by this company of artists. Artistic endeavors like those undertaken by Sweet Tea should be celebrated. In Fayetteville, we do not have to travel far to see creative and thoughtful theater. Sometimes, we can find it in our literal backyard.
“The Comedy of Errors” continues through Sept. 8 with shows on most evenings during the week held behind the 1897 Poe House downtown. For specific show dates, times and information on discounts and advanced tickets, call 910-420-4383 or visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com.