A return trip to Rome

Badger High mixes humor and history

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published Jan. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)
Photo: A return trip to Rome

Keeping with the Badger High School's thespian theme for the year, the players will once again be in ancient Rome, performing "The Last Gladiator" by Martin Follose, following last fall's performance of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

"I try to do a themed season of productions," said Laura Shotliff, director. "I liked (this script's) goofy mixture of ancient Rome and slapstick. I also liked how it connected modern day conveniences--dimes for parking meters, Nyquil and coffee--with the idea of legends of old being fulfilled."

As the show opens, Rome is at war. The emperor, portrayed by Andrew Gruber, is away fighting with most of the mighty senators of the city.
Photo: A return trip to Rome

The selfish princess, played by Ailish Montague, is dreading her fate of marrying the last gladiator standing after the battle--most likely the muscle-bound moron Brudis, played by Colton Preo --if she doesn't find a suitable husband beforehand.

Rather than fighting with the other senators of Rome, top-ranking and cowardly Senator Altilis, played by Will Hancock, is home pressuring the princess to fulfill her obligation so he can have the power he desperately wants that would go along with the union.

Through clever plot twists, fast-paced dialogue and humor, the story unwinds as the princess devises a plan to help simple-minded Gladius, a peasant thief played by Kevin Jennison, win the games, in turn, buying her time to get out of her predicament.

As the plot pans out, the relationship between Gladius and the princess becomes the real thing--love.

"It's a very sweet non-threatening romantic entanglement for our leading lady and gentleman," Shotliff said.

Other characters include the inept but wily thief and Gladius' sidekick, Minimus (Michael Gieron); Julia (Kathryn Hausman), the peasant girl with brains Photo: A return trip to Romeenough to bribe them, but not brains enough to leave them to their own devices; the four wives of the senators who want to do good things, they just don't always see the irony in what they're doing; and a host of extras to fill out the cast.

The kids are enjoying the script because it is very light," Shotliff says. "(There are) no deep motivations--everything is pretty surface level. It gives them the opportunity to focus on physicalizing character development, sometimes something that falls short when dealing with characters who hide a lot of things or have elevated motivations to play."

Nearly all aspects of designing and constructing, including costumes, are being done by the Theatre Practicum students, Shotliff said.

"These 10 students are among the top theater performers and technicians that Badger has. In some cases, actors are stretching themselves and working as designers and construction crew to see how the other half lives."

"The Last Gladiator" runs Feb. 1-3, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $3 each and can be purchased only at the door the 30 minutes prior to curtain. For more information, call 348-2000 ext. 2722.



Gladius - Kevin Jennison

Minimus - Michael Gieron

Lady - Paige Druszczack

Julia - Kathryn Hausman

Princess - Ailish Montague

Maid - Katie Porter

Altilis - Will Hancock

Messenger - Patrick Connors

Impella - Tierney Butler

Verbalina - Bridget O'Neill

Sasilla - Rebecca Weglarz

Laffina - Erin Frazier

Attendant - Heather Bertram

Brudis - Colton Preo

Fina - Jillian Hovden

The Emperor - Andrew Gruber



Jackie Murphy

Nick Anderson

Mackenzie Patten

Dan Andrus

Brianne Littlefield

Tamara Westra

Chikki Chan

Brooke Pankau

Eric Leech

Spencer Harte

Kate Coyne

Tom Uzitas

Jackie Kaleta

David Skomski

Kayla Peterson

Colin Dunn

Kyle Mcmanus



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