‘Macbeth’ with a TBT twist continues this weekend and next

Courtesy Photo The cast of Thunder Bay Theatre’s “Macbeth” poses at a recent rehearsal. The play runs at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, and again next weekend.

All you have to do is read the description of “Macbeth” on Thunder Bay Theatre’s website to find out the twist of this Shakespearean classic. In TBT’s version, the lead is a woman. In fact, everyone leading this production is female, too.

“A brave Scottish general named Macbeth meets three prophesying Witches on her way home from battle. The Witches give Macbeth a glimpse into her future, and the promise of kingship. Spurred by her wife and wrapt with guilt and paranoia, Macbeth begins to fight for power in the only way she thinks will work: murder.”

Director Molly Stricker has thoroughly enjoyed working with her cast of 16. There were no hiccups in last weekend’s opening, despite the superstition or “magic” many believe goes hand-in-hand with the play whose name must not be spoken in the theater by anyone other than those involved in the production.

Stricker says the play itself is magical, and she is excited to be working with an all-female leadership crew.

“Having an entire team of females has been really cool,” Stricker said. “It was just amazing to see a story about women told by women.”

Along with Stricker, the production staff includes choreographers MaryKathryn Kopp and Desi Rodriguez, Associate Director, Production Manager and Sound Designer Tabitha Camp, Fight Director Quan “Sam” Sun, Scenic Designer Bridgid Burge, Costume Designer Eileen Thoma, Lighting Designer and Sound Consultant Chris Riley, Technical Director Jason Luther, and Lexie Lino on stage crew.

The cast includes Erica Werner as Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, Carey Blackburn as her wife, Lady Macbeth, Reed Horsley as Banquo, Adriana Helinski as Fleance, Banquo’s daughter, Emily Ahrens as First Witch, Desi Rodriguez as Second Witch, Sierra Glosson as Third Witch, Jacob Kerzner as Duncan, King of Scotland, Lucas Moquin as Malcolm, Duncan’s eldest son, Ely Irving as Donalbain, Duncan’s son, Stefon Funderburke as Macduff, Thane of Fife, Quan “Sam” Sun as Lennox, Jordan Hand as Ross, Kerzner as the Porter, Joey Lanier as Seyton, Austin Heath as Angus, and Kingsli Kraft as Gentlewoman.

“Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s last plays that he wrote, so it’s considered to be one of the more developed and better-written ones, so it’s very concise, which is great,” Stricker explained. “It moves pretty quickly. It’s not too long. It’s just over two hours, so it’s even shorter than a lot of other shows that we do here.”

She explained the plot, for those unfamiliar with the work of William Shakespeare.

In the Shakespearean original, Gen. Macbeth, on his way home from battle with his comrade, Banquo, encounters three witches who predict that he will become thane and then king, but he does not believe them. Right after the witches leave, a messenger from the king arrives to tell Macbeth he is to become thane. That spurs him on to confer with his wife about overtaking the throne, which he eventually does with her help. But then guilt, fear and paranoia set in, driving him into darkness and despair.

“He gets really scared and he starts thinking that he needs to kill everyone around him because he can’t trust anyone,” Stricker said. “Which is kind of true.”

So, the play remains true to the script, other than changing the pronouns to reflect the female lead.

“We didn’t change any of the titles,” Stricker said. “She’s still called ‘king,’ she’s still called ‘thane,’ she’s still called ‘lord,’ all of those things that are traditionally male-focused. So, by doing that, we created this, like, really interesting story about a woman who is trying to rise to power, and is fighting within the system that is working against her, and so she can never win, because the system wasn’t designed for her to win. Which I believe is an allegory for how we all exist, and what we all go through every day.”

So that’s the TBT twist.

“We’ve also added a lot of girl band pop music, as well as hip hop, and some 1950s and 60s girl band oldies, and we’ve added a lot of dance and movement to the show as well,” Stricker said.

There are dark themes, violence, and possibly a lesbian kiss. The content may not be suitable for children.

This is not going to be typical Shakespeare, so it should appeal to many audiences beyond just the theater buffs.

“If you’re not a Shakespeare person, this is the show for you,” said TBT Education Director Adrian Alexander. “It’s fascinating.”

The play runs through Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 per adult, $12 per teen 13 to 17, and $8 per child 12 and younger. Call the box office at 989-354-2267. TBT is located at 400 N. 2nd Ave. in Alpena.

For more information, visit thunderbaytheatre.org.

The production is sponsored by Family Enterprise Inc.

Darby Hinkley is Lifestyles editor. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or dhinkley@thealpenanews.com.