Maybe you had him all wrong – Shakespeare that is. Maybe you thought he was just a long read of a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Who knew – Shakespeare Rocks? The Portsmouth Area Arts Council’s Children’s (PAAC) Theatre presents “Shakespeare Rocks,” May 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and May 15 at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s for our junior companies, ages 6-13, and they are having a great time really learning all about Shakespeare,” Becky Lovins of PAAC said. “It’s not so much a Shakespeare play as it is learning about the world of Shakespeare and how he wrote and what his theatres were like back in the day. So it has really been an educational journey for them, but it’s fantastic music. They’re having a great time.”
The performances will be at the “Black Box,” the Children’s Theatre at 614 Third Street in Portsmouth. It has about a hundred seats in it. The seating is limited, and tickets are available only at the door, a half hour before the performance begins.
“It’s a great space,” Lovins said. “Very up-close and personal and it’s very versatile.”
As with any great performance of a great work, the work involved in getting to performance level is intense.
“For this show they will have about six full weeks of rehearsal nightly, Monday through Thursday for about three hours a night,” Lovins said. “They come together and this choreography is intense for this age group. They’ve never worked this hard and I think they’re really enjoying taking the challenge.”
The music is one of the centerpieces of the show.
“They love the music,” Lovins said. “And the parents love the music. The kids will bring the CD home and they play it in the car and repeat and the parents are really getting into this music too. It’s got a little bit of hip-hop, a little bit of rock and a little bit of jazz, so it’s just a little different feel than some of the musicals that we’ve done.”
On Tuesday night the cast went through the performance and took the opportunity to answer some questions such as what they have learned about Shakespeare that surprised them.
“I was surprised that girls weren’t allowed to be in Shakespeare’s plays even though Shakespeare didn’t like it,” Ava, an 11 year old from Portsmouth West Middle School, said. P.J., a 6-year-old from Waverly agreed.
“Shakespeare died on his birthday,” Marilyn, 11, of Clay Local Schools said. “He was 56.”
“I learned that he created a lot of words that we use today, like gossip,” Brian, 14, of Portsmouth STEM Academy, said.
The children were also asked what was the hardest thing to do in the play.
“Trying to capture something to make yourself more like the character,” Faith, 11, of the STEM Academy said.
“The constant British accents are very hard,” Leah said.
Anna said she gets the dates confused.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and the PAAC has issued an invitation to – “come and enjoy this energetic cast of local students as they take you through the wonderful world of the Bard.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.