Lumina Studio Theatre stuns with A Winter’s Tale

by Mary Ellen Koenig
special to the Voice

With bare branches silhouetted against gray skies and the temperatures dropping daily, we are deep within winter’s cold beauty.   Many Takoma Park and Silver Spring residents welcomed the season with Lumina Studio Theatre’s stunning production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, which played to capacity audiences at Round House Theater for two weekends in early December.

Artistic Director David Minton’s adaptation placed William Shakespeare’s classic story of loss and redemption within another tale set during the blitz in World War II London.  The modern story, written by Minton, echoed the themes of Shakespeare’s work, with both revolving around the loss of a child and culminating in emotional reunions which foretold the end of dark days of separation and estrangement.   Two large casts of Lumina performers, ranging from the seven-year-old “tinies” to Lumina’s talented high school students and skilled adult actors, brought both stories beautifully to life, melding the magic and bittersweet qualities of Shakespeare’s tale into both parts.

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Queen Hermione, played by Aziza Afzal (left), defends herself against charges made by her husband, King Leontes, played by Jeremiah Savage (right) in the Teal Cast of Lumina’s The Winter’s Tale. (photo by Linda Parker)


While regular Lumina theater-goers marvel at how director Minton
consistently coaxes even his youngest performers to give beautifully
articulated performances in complex Shakespearian works, audiences are
equally dazzled by the production values that have come to characterize
Lumina productions.  The Winter Tales costumes by Wendy Eck were
gorgeous concoctions of crowns and wimples, ribboned gowns, and capes
which created an Elizabethan pageant of texture and color and contrasted
beautifully with the darker hues of 1940’s London.   Eck’s creations
updated costumes originally designed by Lumina’s founder Jillian Raye
for the troupe’s first production of The Winter’s Tale in 2001. Raye, to
whom this production was dedicated, succumbed to breast cancer in 2008,
but left an enduring legacy of outstanding community theater for all
ages.  One audience member and Lumina supporter, Ritchie Porter,
commented that “it was touching to feel Jillian’s presence in this
revisiting of the play.”

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Teal Cast members, from left to right, Chloe Mangifico, Olivia Gonzalez, Aidan Close, and Maxine Deveaux, play a merry band of pickpockets in the second act. (photo by Linda Parker)
 

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King Leontes, played by Conor Donahue in the Green Cast, accuses Queen Hermione, played by Clare Lefebure (left), of adultery. (photo by Linda Parker)

The traditional music arranged by Karen Ashbrook and Mark Haag consisted
of lovely harp, hammer dulcimer, violin, cello, flute and woodwind
pieces, played by a small band of costumed adult and teenaged
musicians.  Clever lighting and sound, coupled with Jim Porter’s set
that effectively evoked ageless ruins, captured qualities of both
wartime London and the far-flung courts of Kings Leontes of Sicilia and
Polixenes of Bohemia, central characters whose falling out precipitated
the loss of friendship and family. 

The Takoma Park/Silver Spring community has been enriched since 1997 by
the artistry of Lumina Studio Theatre, which has provided a forum for
creativity and imagination for actors, visual artists, musicians,
choreographers, designers, and even filmmakers.  This visually beautiful
production of one of Shakespeare’s late tragicomedies provided an ideal
forum for the theatrical magic that has become Lumina’s trademark. 

If you missed The Winter’s Tale in December, you will have many
opportunities in 2011 to catch Lumina’s work.  Chaucer’s Canterbury
Tales will play January 29-30 at Round House Theater in Silver Spring. 
Spring productions include Tony Kushner’s Hydriotaphia and Shakespeare’s
Henry VI. 

Lumina will also present five summer stock productions for young actors,
ages 7 and up.  For more information on all Lumina’s activities, please
visit, .luminastudio.org.

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About the Author

sandymoore
Sandy Moore, the Kids' Voice columnist, writes for young readers and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Sandy is also a past contributor to Washington Parent magazine, a Board member of Lumina Studio Theatre, and resident of Silver Spring.