She sticks out her tongue as she paces the ground. Her fist packs a wallop. She bites.
Not exactly something you’re likely to read on Katherina Minola’s eHarmony profile, but harmony really isn’t her thing, anyway.
In a fun and funny ’60s-style romp of “The Taming of the Shrew” — now running at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison — Gabra Zackman plays the tempestuous Kate as part posturing professional wrestler, part caged animal.
The first thing she does is take off her bra and use it as a whip to keep men at bay. Moments later, she sets it on fire.
What a catch!
This is not the Padua of Shakespeare’s writing, of course.
Director Kurt Rhoads sets the story in the ’60s and Amy Clark’s costumes take us back: There are go-go boots galore; Kate’s kid sister, Bianca, wears a Warhol-inspired Campbell’s Soup mini; Petruchio, Kate’s suitor, arrives on a motorcycle, wearing a leather jacket emblazoned with Verona H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group).
He may be from H.O.G., but to borrow a phrase from the period, Petruchio (played by the exceptional Richard Ercole) is 100 percent male-chauvinist P.I.G. — as opinionated, stubborn and conceited as Kate.
It’s a match made in Avon.
Zackman and Ercole, regulars at the Boscobel-based festival, have great chemistry here in a battle of equals.
As Petruchio puts it, they are “two raging fires” meeting together that “do consume the thing that feeds their fury.”
They trade barbs — verbal and physical — and Kate begins to soften over time, abetted by Petruchio’s reverse psychology and all of Padua, it seems.
It takes a village to tame a shrew.
The festival has delighted audiences for a generation now, attracting a company of favorite actors as anticipated as that first chin-drenching summer peach.
Rhoads’ cast doesn’t disappoint: Stephen Paul Johnson as the toupéed and pitiable Gremio; Jason O’Connell as the smooth-talking lavendar-clad Tranio; Katie Hartke as the winsome Bianca; Ryan Quinn as Petruchio’s afro-clad second, Grumio; and Rhoads’ wife, Nance Williamson, as the curvaceous, ever-grinning Baptista, mother to Kate and Bianca, in a role written as the father.
Under artistic director Terrence O’Brien, the festival does much with little, presenting Shakespeare with no sets and few props.
Rhoads demonstrates a mastery for the minimalist form when he first presents the Minola women — Kate, Bianca and Baptista. They step up to a microphone to sing “This Land is Your Land” in a scene that tells you everything you need to know about their relationships: Baptista adores Bianca, Kate resents her pretty, fawned-upon younger sister; Bianca appears all sweet, but has deeper motives.
Rhoads and choreographer Lisa Rinehart use music to set place and mood, from Herb Alpert’s “Tijuana Taxi” to the “Love, American Style” theme to two original songs composed by Westchester native Dar Williams.
Williams’ songs help to soften one of the chief obstacles of “Shrew” — particularly one set in the ’60s: How does a woman as headstrong as Kate turn so radically that by the end of the play she is telling other newlywed wives to submit fully to their husbands?
In “Kate’s Ballad,” Williams writes: “I ponder at this final pause,/The paradox of Nature’s laws./My will, to love awoken,/Must break, but not be broken.”
Zackman delivers the song and the ensuing speech earnestly and beautifully, without a hint of irony and with the zeal of the converted. She who hated with all her being, having tasted love, now loves with all her being.
It’s all or nothing with Kate. How long this change of heart will last no one can say.
In the final song, “Summer of Love,” Williams writes: “Something’s stirring in the rose and jasmined air/It’s the summer of Love/It’s the summer of Love/It’s seductive, it’s transcendent,/It’s alarming, it’s resplendent,/And it’s love.”
This summer, in “The Taming of the Shrew” at Boscobel, love changes everything.
“The Taming of the Shrew”
Where: Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Route 9D, Garrison.
When: Now open. Running in repertory with “Troilus and Cressida” and “The Bomb-itty of Errors.” Festival closes Sept. 5. The playing schedule is on the festival Website.
Tickets: In June, July and September, $32 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, $38 on Fridays and Sundays, $45 on Saturdays. In August, $34 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, $40 on Fridays and Sundays, $47 on Saturdays.
Next: “Troilus and Cressida” opens July 3.
Photos by William Marsh: Top, Gabra Zackman and Richard Ercole do battle as Kate and Petruchio in “The Taming of the Shrew” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison. Second: Love changes everything.