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December 11, 2016
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Where there’s a will...

Tannis Kowalchuk’s performance in “Shakespeare’s Will” was an inspired tour de force at the NACL in Highland Lake.

When asked for details about the hours-long trek to Bethel and the commitment to give these kids a rare opportunity to soak up the ambiance, I inquired about the cost of such an adventure. Williams and Zaleski spoke enthusiastically about the school’s support of the arts programs and the students’ rabid desire for learning. “Yes it cost money,” Zaleski said, “but where there’s a will...” Feeling ancient (and desperately wanting to sit!) I endured the opener “Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk” (‘nuff said?) and moved on after snapping a pic of the cast of “Hair.”

As one season gears up, another takes a final bow and I was curious to check out the last show of the year presented by the creative team at the NACL in Highland Lake ( Vern Thiessen’s “Shakespeare’s Will” is a one-woman play based (very loosely) on the life of the playwright’s wife, Anne Hathaway, and the director’s notes explained that “her story is one of literary history’s great mysteries” since little is actually known about the Bard’s “better half.” This production was (IMHO) brilliant and a fitting closing chapter for the NACL season. Company cofounder Tannis Kowalchuk starred, breathing rich, layered life into the character, who is interpreted as funny, wise and burdened, as she regales the audience with her experience being married to the world’s most famous playwright.

Collaborating with writer Thiessen (who was present for the Q&A) made for a greater understanding of the material and every aspect of the show was (again-IMHO) more than spot-on. Mimi McGurl’s direction was (I don’t say it often!) flawless, and music and sound designer Kurt Knuth’s contribution more than noteworthy. The entire production was enhanced with a great use of the space, props, costumes and lighting (provided by the multitalented Zoot) and Kowalchuk’s performance a tour de force, causing me to believe every word she spoke, whether it was true... or not.