By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Homegrown Theatre will present what Shakespeare scholars believe to be the last play he ever wrote on July 26-28 at Keizer Rotary Amphitheater at Keizer Rapids Park.

“Prospero’s monologue right at the end of the show is considered his (Shakespeare’s) farewell to the theatre,” said Linda Baker, director of The Tempest.

The free show begins at 7 p.m.

Set on a remote island, The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, a sorcerer and the rightful Duke of Milan who plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place using illusion and skillful manipulation. He conjures up a storm, the tempest, to cause his brother Antonio and the complicit Queen Alonsa of Naples to believe they are shipwrecked and marooned on the island, where Prospero’s schemes bring about the revelation of Antonio’s lowly nature, the redemption of the duke and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.

“It is a comedy,” Baker said. “People think it’s serious but if you read the script it’s not serious. It’s not a tragedy. Nobody dies. Everybody that should be comes together.”

The play is also easier to understand than some of Shakespeare’s other shows.

“The language is beautiful,” Baker said. “It’s just a pleasure and it’s very accessible, surprising enough. It’s much more accessible than a lot of the shows. We’re throwing druids and thunder and lightning and a little more comedy than there usually is. We’re playing with humor in this show.”

Todd Logan, a veteran of Pentacle Theatre in Salem, is making his Keizer Homegrown Theatre debut as Prospero.

“In reality, Prospero is this great magician but really the only thing he really threatens anybody with is cramps and pinches,” Baker said. “Prospero lost his dukedom because he wasn’t paying attention. He was all involved with the naturals and the natural world and now he’s got it and it’s not as interesting as he thought it would be and he’s ready to go home and be duke. He’s not this weird mystical creature that he’s often played. He’s a guy who thought it might be more fun not to be duke.”

Logan’s son Spence, who played Romeo for Keizer Homegrown last summer, is one of two actors, along with Allison Reid, cast as Ariel, spirits who serve Prospero.

“I thought it would be kind of fun to see two Ariels, a male and a female, a yin and a yang,” Baker said. “He’s one of the few fantastical characters in the show. Everybody else is real.”

Kyra Wood, of Aumsville, plays Prospero’s daughter, who has only known life on the island. Antonio is played by Roy Esquivel and Alonsa, Queen of Naples, by Shannon Remple. Her son, Ferdinand, is portrayed by James Schmidt.

The rest of the cast includes Sam Tibbits as Caliban, Michael Jaffee as Sebastian

Richard Leppig as Gonzolo, Shilah Kahree as Trinculo, Braden Pippert as Stefano, Lyndon Zaitz as lords Francisco and Adrian, Jordan Reid as Boatswain and Tim Reid as Ships Master.

Sydney Colman, Megan Cox, Chantelle Gemmill,Becky Nielson, Rebekah Pippert and Lauren Stenson play druids, inhabitants of the island who come to the aid of Prospero and Ariel.

Sprinkled in throughout the show, leading characters in and out of scenes, The Tempest also includes more music than most Shakespeare shows. Hillary Hoover, previously in Dog Park the Musical, is a featured soloist.

New this year, Keizer Homegrown will take its Shakespeare in the Park to Aumsville for three performances on Aug. 3, 4 and 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Porter Boone Park Stage, 1105 Main St.

“It’s a lot of work for a three night run so this gives us six performances at two different venues,” Baker said. “We’ve all worked together in the past. They are there to see our shows. We have helped them with costumes and we’ve traded actors back and forth. It’s been a really good collaboration.”