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Seton Hill tackles Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'

In a classical play about witches and sorcery, Seton Hill University students are working their own magic to unravel the flowery language of Shakespeare in a production of his final work, "The Tempest."

The comedy tells the tale of a sorcerer, Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, who lives on an enchanted island with his daughter, Miranda. They were marooned on the island by his brother, Antonio, who took over Prospero's kingdom and banished them. Prospero seeks revenge by using his magical powers to stir up a storm that shipwrecks his enemies. He doesn't expect his daughter to fall for Ferdinand, one of the stranded travelers. He creates challenges for Ferdinand to prove his love for Miranda, while trying to restore his dukedom with help from the spirits he commands.

"I was ecstatic to play Ferdinand," says Andrew Meholick, a junior from Reynoldsville majoring in theater performance. "He is a true romantic who is willing to do anything just to lay eyes on the woman he loves. I really wanted to bring a relatable Ferdinand to our modern audience, which is easy to do with Shakespeare's understanding of human nature."

Meholick says his character is the dashing, brave man all the girls want, "with enough quirkiness to still make you giggle at his youth. I think the audience will relate to several of the characters we have re-created in this production, and Ferdinand will grab their hearts."

Senior music-theater major Sarah Laughland of Frederick, Md., portrays Prospero, the sorcerer.

"Prospero is an older male, and usually played by one, creating quite a challenge which I was very much drawn to," she says. "In his years separated from civilization, he has grown wiser and comes to realize that 'the rarer action is in virtue then in vengeance.' "

Layne Bailey, a musical-theater freshman from Wexford, has the role of Miranda in her first production at Seton Hill. She says her character is a sweet and innocent girl who is sassy and has moments of immense strength.

"She is honest and caring and not afraid to make her feelings known. I wanted to portray her in this production because I see a lot of who Miranda is in myself," Bailey says. "We are both honest, caring beings and she is also a fun character to work on and figure out different actions and goals with."

Directing "The Tempest" is Seton Hill adjunct theater instructor Lisa Ann Goldsmith, who says her biggest challenge is making the language of the play understandable to the audience.

"I am drawn to this play because of the concurrent themes of retribution and forgiveness, and also the way Shakespeare combines pagan magic with more traditional faith," she says.

Goldsmith has directed off-Broadway, regional and university productions, including "Blood Relations" for Seton Hill last year.

Also in the student cast of "The Tempest" are Amanda Bish of Greensburg, Kristy Bissell of Canonsburg, Gabriella DeCarli of Dubois, Domenic Jungling of Gibsonia, Hannah Lamberto of Cranberry, Patrick McMahon of Gibsonia, William Smolter of Glenshaw, Natalie Spanner of Bethel Park, Emily Urbaniak of Pittsburgh, Ariel Watters of Everett, Sienna Sears of St. Louis, Mo., and Shannon Webster of Greensburg, Kan.

Additional Information:

'The Tempest'

Presented by: Seton Hill University's Theatre and Dance Program

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 17-19; 2 p.m. Sunday and 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Admission: $16; student and group rates available

Where: Seton Hill Performing Arts Center, 100 Harrison Ave., Greensburg

Details: 724-552-2929 or website

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