BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WFRV) – The prism that is William Shakespeare radiates distinctive hues in a production of “The Tempest” being presented by Door Shakespeare.

The magical Prospero is a mother rather than a father to a daughter, Miranda, who is being introduced to humankind by way of a shipwreck caused by revenge-minded Prospero.

Also, the spirit Ariel is a dual persona. Often when Ariel is up to casting spells of her own, the act includes singing or music accompanying her poetic words by a musician playing a whatchamacallit – a hybrid violin the likes of which most people have never seen.

Director Todd Denning has special folks – pros – to collaborate with for spell-making under a massive maple tree that adds character to Door Shakespeare’s inventive personality.

At the core is the story of a leader, Prospero, scorned and stuck on a remote island with a daughter, a nasty gofer (go for this, go for that) and a handy-dandy spirit. Prospero’s enemies who include her brother happen to be sailing nearby, so Prospero makes the ship sink so she can bring the culprits ashore to deal with. “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!” Ariel informs.

Questions: How did Shakespeare come up with this stuff? Why is it still interesting? The latter is, the writing is more than 400 years old, and Shakespeare tells in artistic ways that people today are no different than people then – notably those of power corrupted.

In the midst of all the magical hocus pocus, Shakespeare adds three slushy drunks. In the case of this production, the shenanigans have a magic of their own by way of expertly performed tomfoolery.

What happens on the unique stage outfitted as if with sea bubbles and seaweed is colorful, energetic and expressive. The players’ voices are au natural – not amplified. The audience is in close proximity, as if living in the mystical world.

Portraying Prospero is Carrie Hitchcock, who is equipped with all the necessaries of profound acting – the nuances of eyes, voice and body. Her every move, every inflection is defined.

Side trip for this topic: Prospero as a mother rather than a father. Think about it: Fathers and daughters are different than mothers and daughters. Both have love, but mothers are more knowing about being a daughter. There is a natural simpatico. So Carrie Hitchcock’s Prospero casts those subtleties – thus expanding on Shakespeare’s original intent.

Portraying Ariel are Christine Saenz, offering a brightness and joy, AND Scott McKenna Campbell, whose acting, composing, music-making and inventing skills add volumes to Door Shakespeare productions. Christine Saenz sings, acts and moves in ways of a true spirit presence.

The three drunks make quite the comical sideshow. Sight gags, verbal gags and physical gags weave all around from Alexander Johnson as the growly and threatening Caliban, Charles Fraser as the – urp – ringleader Stephano and Na’Tosha De’Von as the jester Trincula. Timing is everything in comedy, and these three have it. Also, Charles Fraser is a quick-change costume/character artist, also being Alonso, the power-grabbing brother of Prospero. Alexander Johnson also has key scenes being monsterly to Prospero.

Much more is part of the “show” by the company and the visual/aural creators – the love-struck Miranda (Alayna Perry) and Ferdinand (Alex Galick), the conniving Antonio (Mark Corkins) and Sebastian (Dan Klarer), the haunting fairies (Katherine E. Norman, Christopher Elst and Jamey Feshold) and the thunder-and-lighting storm effects makers.

That this outfit does a whole another crackling production every other night is impressive.


Running time: Two hours, 16 minutes

Remaining performances: To Aug. 26: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday


Creative: Playwright – William Shakespeare; director – Todd Denning; music director – Scott McKenna Campbell; fight director, intimacy director – Christopher Elst; scenic and properties designer – Jody Sekas; costume designer – Shannon Heibler; production stage manager – Lindy Girman; assistant stage manager – Jamie Alexander; lighting designer – Todd Mion; acting artistic director – Amy Ensign


Shipmaster – Scott McKenna Campbell

Antonio – Mark Corkins

Boatswain, Trincula – Na’Tosha De’Von

Mariner, Francisco, Juno – Christopher Elst

Mariner, Adrian, Ceres – Jamey Feshold

Alonso, Stephano – Charles Fraser

Ferdinand – Alex Galick

Prospero – Carrie Hitchcock

Caliban – Alexander Johnson

Sebastian – Dan Klarer

Gonzala, Iris – Katherine E. Norman

Miranda – Alayna Perry

Ariel – Christine Saenz


ALSO: “The Three Musketeers: An Adventure, With Music,” to Aug. 27: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. Saturday.

THE VENUE: The Door Shakespeare theater space is outdoors at Bjorklunden, a 425-acre estate on the shore of Lake Michigan south of Baileys Harbor on the east side of Door County. The performance area is a limestone-lined patch of wood chips beneath a majestic, eye-catching 70-foot maple tree with shaggy bark. For “The Tempest,” all action surrounds the tree and the raised stage in front of it. The seating configuration accommodates about 160 is on three platforms arcing around the performance space. This site was used in the past by Door Shakespeare; the seating faced the opposite way toward a grove of cedars in recent years. The theater is about a mile of winding road off of Highway 57. Bjorklunden is owned by Lawrence University of Appleton, though Door Shakespeare is a stand-alone entity.