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'Beware the Ides of March': Julius Caesar comes to MCT

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A timeless production

Andrew Davids as Cassius, Peter Gelblum as Brutus.

Special to the Press Banner

On hearing that Mountain Community Theater would present Julius Caesar as part of their 36th season, I couldn’t help but scratch my head (ok, perhaps scoff just a little). My hometown, Ben Lomond was going to present one of the most difficult tragedies ever written? I was excited.

Learning that Bill Peters, a renowned professor at San Francisco State known for his Shakespearean genius was going to be directing, my interest grew. I had studied Theater Arts at SF State, and though Peters had been my academic advisor, I had never had never had the privilege of working with him on a production. As luck would have it, I was moving back to the area; I knew I simply had to be a part of this production. I ended up landing a spot as Lucia, initially Lucias, servant to Brutus, and since then the process has been nothing short of thrilling.

 Set to open on the iconic “Ides of March,” March 15th , the ominous date Shakespeare establishes in Act 1, Julius Caesar will be nothing short of a local masterpiece.

This version of Julius Caesar is a clean original vision worked and reworked to perfection. Broken down beat by beat, the clarity of the production cuts the stigma of Shakespearian work and makes it a show for all audiences, not just the theatrical elite. The efficiently poignant condensed script is all of about 80 pages (not bad for a Shakespeare) making the run-time a little over two hours with a 15-minute intermission.  You can leave the neck pillows at home.

Though I admit I am biased, I confidently say that my cast-mates are nothing short of amazing. With varying levels of experience and previous familiarity with Shakespearean language, juggling both prose and verse, these guys have obviously done their homework for there is not a moment of hesitation or confusion with the language. The actors clearly translate to the audience without being melodramatic. Shout out especially to Peter Gelblum taking his first stab at Shakespeare and landing the leading role of Brutus with the highest line count in the entire show.

 In addition, the timeless stage design by Kate Longini Pratt is the sugar on top of this production. The combination of lighting and sound effects will make your hair stand on end. The set and overall production value of this piece could easily be mistaken for that of a larger company. A huge thank you to our season subscribers and donations from our locals. This would not be possible without you.

All in all I can say the cast and crew of Julius Caesar are killing it (at some points quite literally).  I am so proud of my community and what we can and do achieve for though we be but little we are fierce.

 Thank you Bill Peters for having the vision and confidence in Mountain Community Theater to pursue this artistic endeavor, and thank you to our stage manager Susann Suprenant who had the resolve to get us through it. The experience and the education this production has brought me is one I’ll keep in my pocket for a long time. And although I was initially hesitant, I was wrong to underestimate the determination of artists and what we can achieve. The moral of the story? Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer. Fare thee well.”

  •  Jocelyn McMahon-Babalis is a Bay Area actor and teaching artist for children grades K-8. 

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