PUBLISHED: 5:04 PM on Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Recognizing much talented local actors
Aaron Elmore is a local treasure. On the heels of his fine performance as Claudius in Perseverance Theatre's otherwise incoherent production of "Hamlet," Elmore and Theatre-in-the-Rough just completed their production of "The Tempest" - Juneau's second Shakespeare play in the space of a year.

And this time, as we have come to expect from Theatre-in-the-Rough, the production was both wonderfully entertaining and true to the spirit of Shakespeare's script.

"The Tempest" is Shakespeare's most theatrical play, and Elmore used all the skill of his own playful theatrical imagination to create a magical atmosphere on the minimalist set upstairs at the Elk's.

Elmore chose to open the play with a shipboard scene in pantomime, instead of Shakespeare's original opening scene, but the pantomime seemed a perfect match with the play's theatricality, along with beautifully stylized hound costumes, an enormous harpy, haunting songs and incidental music, and some truly eerie giant puppets (I want a puppet like that!).

A few of the actors deserve special mention. TR's co-founder, Katie Jensen, created a marvelously complex Ariel, Prospero's fairy spirit, always teetering between not-so-bemused tolerance and absolute disdain for the humans.

Ed Christian, who played Prospero, has a special skill in pacing the rhythms of Shakespeare's lines, unlike so many modern actors who race through Shakespeare's lines to compensate for what they sense as "unnaturalness."

Every word Christian spoke was perfectly intelligible and added greatly to our sense of Prospero as a careful and deliberate kind of guy.

And special commendation goes to Ekatrina Oleksa as Stephano, the drunken butler. Elmore himself played Stephano originally, but was suddenly hospitalized halfway through the play's run.

Oleksa filled in for him at the last minute and gave us a hilarious Stephano. She has exquisite comic timing, and this is something the other actors in the production could have benefited from; my one general criticism of the production is that too often the other actors let Shakespeare's funny lines get lost in the rhythm of a scene.

But overall the production was immensely entertaining. I wish I could have seen it twice.

As I write this, Elmore remains hospitalized.

I'm sure all of Juneau's other theater-lovers and card-carrying members of CCB (Citizens for Compulsory Bardolatry) will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery and return to the stage.

Jim Hale