Home Cherry Hill News Cherry Hill East Theatre putting a modern touch on a Shakespeare classic

Cherry Hill East Theatre putting a modern touch on a Shakespeare classic


Cherry Hill High School East is making a play written more than 400 years ago one of the most high-tech productions it has ever done.

Cherry Hill East will be performing William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” as its fall drama. The play will premiere at the Cherry Hill East auditorium on Dec. 4. As with past productions at Cherry Hill East, two casts will perform the play. The red cast will take the stage on Dec. 4 and 11 and the white cast will perform Dec. 5 and 12.

“The Tempest” is thought to be the last play Shakespeare wrote on his own. The story is set on a deserted island where the lead character, the Duke of Milan Prospero, was exiled with his daughter Miranda after being overthrown by his brother Antonio. Prospero becomes a sorcerer during his years on the island and creates a storm to shipwreck Antonio and others on the island when they are sailing past. The rest of the play takes place on the island as Prospero tries to retake his seat at Duke.

Cherry Hill East will be pushing the boundaries with this year’s play. The performance will feature three projection screens and a variety of multimedia elements the school has never used in a play before.

“I think this play is interesting in terms of the different opportunities for multimedia,” said Pete Gambino, a film teacher at Cherry Hill East. “The island is very magical, so we really wanted to bend the rules of reality. The film work is something we can use to step out of the physical world and show a different place and time.”

The play will begin with a video rather than a live performance. The shipwreck scene was shot earlier in November and is being edited for the show. Cherry Hill East’s film students are playing a huge role in the production of the video.

“The point of this whole thing is to teach them how to do it,” Gambino said. “I’ve been editing with a group of students. Pre-production was with a group of students, production was with a group of students. I couldn’t do it by myself.”

The play will also feature various projections. Imagery will be projected onto different backgrounds and set pieces.

“It’s more reminiscent of elements, such as fire, wind and water projected onto things,” Gambino said.

The cast bought into the idea of a video intro and projections from the beginning.

“It’s the most experimental thing East has done in years, which is a very cool thing to be a part of,” said junior Jaclyn Orlando, playing the role of Prospera in the red cast. “It feels very special to be part of this show because it’s so experimental.”


“I thought that was so, so, so cool,” said Bethelly Jean Louis, playing the role of Miranda in the red cast. “I think having that scene filmed will really capture the audience.”

In terms of the storyline, Cherry Hill East’s version will be slightly different than Shakespeare’s. Retired English teacher Matt Carr edited Shakespeare’s original play down to a two-hour script for Cherry Hill East.

“It’s rare to see on stage a complete version of Shakespeare,” Carr said. “So directors have to decide how long I want it to be and where to cut it. Do I cut characters, do I cut scenes?”

Cherry Hill East decided not to make major changes to the storyline. None of the characters were cut either, but a few characters were changed from male to female. One of the changes was with the lead character of Prospero, who is known as Prospera in Cherry Hill East’s play.

Senior Sarah Gagarin is playing Prospera in the white cast and feels the character is very mother-like.

“Before, Shakespeare couldn’t use these female characters,” Gagarin said. “When I was reading it, I felt like it is a mother more than it’s a father. It creates a much more interesting vibe.”

Carr said the gender changes have had no effect on the storyline. The focus on his edits instead revolves around the longer speeches in the play, some of which were cut drastically to shave the play’s length of time and to keep the action moving.

“Sometimes, it’s just taking something that’s 50 lines long and getting to the essential idea of it and making 50 lines into two lines,” Carr said.

The script changes have been a work in progress. The cast and crew are continuing to make minor changes to the script during rehearsal.

“It has been a process,” Carr said. “We’ve reinstated lines, we’ve taken out lines. We’ve made changes as we go.”


Members of the cast spoke favorably of the script and “The Tempest” as they read deeper into the story.

“I always hear it was one of Shakespeare’s worst plays,” said junior Danya Trommer, playing Trinculo in the red cast. “But once I looked into it, I really liked it because it’s very thematic scene-wise.”

“I’ve never felt such a strong connection to a fall play as I have this one,” said senior Katie Aylesworth, playing Ariel in the white cast. “I’ve felt such a strong connection to this play that I’ve fallen in love with Shakespeare.”

Junior Cedric Middleton, playing the role of Caliban for both casts, feels this year’s show has been his favorite to work on during his time at Cherry Hill East and admitted he can’t wait for opening night.

“This has been the most fun I’ve had putting together any show so far,” Middleton said. “It’s running so smoothly and it’s different from anything I’ve done.”

“The Tempest” will be performed at the Cherry Hill East auditorium on Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Seniors with a gold card are admitted for free. Tickets will be available for purchase at the high school each night beginning at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call the box office at (856) 424–222 ext. 2019 or visit www.chetheatre.com.

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