IF YOU GO:
What: “The Tempest”
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and March 18 and 19; and 3 p.m. Sunday and March 20.
Where: Kent Trumbull
Theatre, 4314 Mahoning Ave. NW, Champion
Tickets: $10 ($8 for students and seniors, and $6 for Kent State students, faculty and staff). Call 330-675-8887, or
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” takes place on a magical island, one that no one has ever seen.
Because the sights and sounds are meant to be unfamiliar to the first-time visitor, a theater must create a whole new world.
That’s exactly what Kent-Trumbull Theatre has done for its production of the play, which opens Friday.
“The Tempest” takes place on the unpredictable and supernatural island of Prospero the wizard, after a storm wrecks a ship and washes its inhabitants ashore.
The island is not definable in terms of time or place, said Daniel-Raymond Nadon, director of the play. “It is a world we have invented.”
Costumer Cara Barker, lighting designer Leslie Brown, scenic designer Robert Katkowsky and composer Simon Kenneally were charged with creating a beautiful but strange world.
Nadon believes they succeeded admirably.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Kent-Trumbull’s effort is Kenneally’s music. It’s not at all common for a local theater to acquire an original score that was created specifically for its production.
Kenneally, of Youngstown, has done this before. In the 1990s, he composed a score for Kent-Trumbull’s version of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
For that play, Kenneally and other musicians played the music live. “The Tempest,” however, will use a recording.
Scoring “The Tempest” was enticing, said Kenneally, because the music exists only in the presence of the spirits in the play.
“It had to be otherworldly,” he said. “One character mentions hearing sounds he’s never heard before.”
After watching rehearsals, Kenneally wrote the music and then recorded it — mainly using synthesizers — in his home studio.
“Just reading the play and watching the way the actors presented the material gave me the idea for the mood of the piece,” he said. “Once I found the main theme, I went from there.”
The music helps put the audience in the scene, he noted.
Kenneally had several local bands over the years, including Olympus Mons. Currently the manager of the Lemon Grove Caf in downtown Youngstown, he also is behind the annual Bon Frog music festival in the city.
The sets for “The Tempest” also reflect the magic of the island, said Nadon — who noted that he and his cast and crew avoided seeing the 2010 film version of the play by Hollywood-Broadway director Julie Taymor so as not to be influenced by it.
“The scenery has multiple levels,” said Nadon. “It is a series of — for lack of a better word — spherical pods that lead away to different places. It also has the ability to shift. ... We can pick up and move the pods so it looks like different parts of the island at different times.”
Lighting also plays a key role, and there are several “reveals,” in which characters “magically” appear.
“The Tempest” once again will bring together actors Peter Byrne (Prospero) and Joseph Toto (Caliban). Byrne, a faculty member in the English department who has a degree in theater, and Toto, a student, teamed up last year for a brilliant production of Moliere’s “Tartuffe.”
Hannah Gillespie, also a student, plays Miranda, Prospero’s daughter.
Byrne, a Renaissance scholar and a fine actor, has been a boon to Kent-Trumbull Theatre, especially when doing period pieces. He helped the cast with Shakespeare’s Elizabethan-era dialog.
Nadon described him as a walking lexicon. “He knows what the words mean and the rhythm and sound of the language,” he said.