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Young actors will tame the 'shrew' in Orion park

Ready to tame Shakespeare’s shrew are (from left) Robert and Phil Skylis and Bethany Gibson. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
July 21, 2010 - Four young Oxford area thespians are ready to take the stage and bring a Shakespearean classic to life.

Oxford siblings Robert, Phil and Margaret Skylis along with Bethany Gibson, of Metamora Township, will perform in "The Taming of the Shrew," Thursday, Aug. 5 though Saturday, Aug. 7 at Orion Township's Civic Center Park (2525 Joslyn Rd.).

Two casts will perform over the three-day period – an all-girl cast and a coed cast.

The all-girl performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 and 2 p.m. Aug. 7. The coed performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on both Aug. 6 and 7.

For those who attend, there's a suggested donation of $5 each for senior citizens, students and folks who bring their own chair. All others are $7 each.

Written in the early 1590s and first published in 1623, the five-act comedic play focuses on the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, Italy, and Katherina (or Kate), a headstrong, inflexible shrew.

Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship. However, Petruchio tempers (or tames) her using various psychological torments until she becomes obedient.

While the main action is between Petruchio and Katherina, there's a subplot featuring a hilarious competition for the hand of Bianca (Katherina's sister) between three suitors – Gremio, Hortensio and Lucentio.

The play is being put on by the Michigan Youth Theater and will feature 31 young thespians ages 12-19.

Gibson, a home-schooled high school junior, is playing the part of Hortensio in the all-girl cast and is an understudy for the role of Petruchio.

"This is the first year I've done this," she said. "I wanted to find out what it's like to actually be in a play. Maybe if I get really, really good, I could do a movie at some point."

Although she's having lots of fun, Gibson said the work is "a little harder than I thought."

"I wasn't expecting to get such a big part on my first play," she said.

Various members of the Skylis family have been participating in Michigan Youth Theater since 2002.

Phil, who just completed the eighth-grade at Oxford Middle School, is playing the part of Hortensio. This is his fourth show.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It's a great place to meet new people and make new friends. It gets you more socially active."

Robert, a junior at Brother Rice High School, will play the part of a Pedant, which means "teacher" in Italian.

"This is actually my first show (as an actor)," he said, noting he's preparing himself to go after a role in Brother Rice's production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this fall. "It's a really great learning experience."

Margaret, who's heading into seventh grade at OMS, is playing the role of a servant. It's her first time performing as well.

For more information about the Michigan Youth Theater, visit

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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