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'The Tempest:' A new twist on a classic play

Monday, November 17, 2014

Harry Houdini, the great escape artist, magician, and noted debunker of the paranormal, stages a fake séance in a vaudeville theatre, hypnotizing the participants into performing Shakespeare's The Tempest. But he soon discovers he has stirred up more than a storm . . .

The Mercyhurst Theatre Program, under the directorship of Brett D. Johnson, Ph.D., continues its 2014-2015 season with a production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest Dec. 4-7. As conceived by guest director Doug Powers, Ph.D., the Bard’s late masterpiece takes on new life as a magical journey from slavery to freedom.

“All of the characters in The Tempest – whether they be monsters, spirits, clowns, lovers, politicians, or magicians – are enslaved,” says Johnson, who also plays Prospero in the production. “Dr. Powers’ approach to the play, with Houdini, the great escape artist, as Prospero, explores this theme, while also accentuating the romance, humor and violence in Shakespeare’s text.”

The Tempest features 14 Mercyhurst students, including Sarah Creighton (Miranda), Bethany Sulecki (Ariel), Grant Clark (Caliban), Luke Ballantyne (Ferdinand), Jordan Strange (Antonio), Tonya Lenhart (Sebastian), Matt Sprague (Adrian), Michael Rowe (Francisco), Maxton Honeychurch (Trinculo), Karalyn Headley (Stephano), Leah Miori (Shipmaster/Iris), Lisa Dunbar (Boatswain), Brianna Carle (Mariner/Ceres), and Sarah Krempasky (Mariner/Juno); a graduate, Lauren Naples (Alonso); a staff member, Ben Friesen (Gonzalo); and a faculty member, Johnson (Prospero).

The creative team also includes lighting designer Madeleine Steineck, wardrobe supervisor Claudia Skal, production stage manager Caitlin Mininger, and assistant stage manager Kathryn Schmitt.

Performances are Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 4-6, at 8 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday, Dec. 6-7, at 2 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre on the Mercyhurst campus.

Single tickets are $10 for adults; $7 for senior citizens/students, and $5 for youths and Mercyhurst students with ID. All performances are general admission, with doors opening 30 minutes prior to curtain. 

Reserve your tickets today by calling 814-824-3000 or by visiting the box office, located in the lobby of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. Cash and credit cards accepted. Tickets will also be on sale (cash only) at the theatre beginning one hour before curtain. Tickets can also be purchased online at