Karl Hugh, Utah Shakespearean Festival
Grant Goodman as Petruchio and Melinda Parrett as Katharina Minola in the Utah Shakespearean Festival's 2008 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew.'
"TAMING OF THE SHREW," Utah Shakespearean Festival, Cedar City, through Aug. 30 (800-752-9849 or www.bard.org); running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (one intermission)

CEDAR CITY — This is a "Taming of the Shrew" unlike anything you read in high school.

Jane Page, director of The Utah Shakespearean Festival production, has set the classic battle of the sexes in Italy, about 1946, the final days of the U.S. occupation of Italy.

Petruchio is a U.S. soldier whose grandparents are from the region and, wanting to marry wealthy, pays a visit, looking for a bride.

This is where he meets Baptista, a respected Italian with two daughters — one, of course, is a shrew who no one wants, as most are afraid of her.

There is plenty about this new adaptation that works well.

Sitting down at the Randall L. Jones Theatre, I was immediately drawn into the gorgeous, Italian town square, designed by Jo Winiarski. It's beautiful. As the characters fill the stage, David Kay Mickelsen's costumes are eye-catching, colorful and fun.

Melinda Parrett plays Katharina, the woman with a temper. Parrett has the fiery Italian down pat. Though at times a touch too violent (no need to push down an old man with a cane), she is quite enjoyable storming around the stage.

Parrett's Kate also has a nice arc as she begins to transition to a softer, nicer version of her old self. Many often roll their eyes at Kate's final speech about women placing themselves below their man — their "lord and master." But Parrett's delivery is full of strength and love and is well-delivered.

Grant Goodman's Petruchio is at times strong and completely masculine and at other times he seems like a silly school boy. It's important that Petruchio's methods and motives are clear — we need to get the impression he knows what he's doing. Described as rough on the outside; intelligent and understanding on the inside; and deeply in love with Katharine, I never got that impression from Goodman's Petruchio.

In executing his plan for taming Kate, he seemed more like a man with a personality disorder; scattered, crazy and unfocused, leaving me wondering what he and his Army buddy had been drinking.

With that said, there were scenes he let his soldier-like strength shine through and then I liked him quite a bit. Most enjoyable is the scene were the two first meet, and also the ending when, finally, we see Petruchio really does have feelings for Kate as he spares her hand from touching the ground.

"Shrew" is always worth the time — it's very funny, and after all these years, still relatable. This cast is pretty solid, the costumes are gorgeous and overall, you'll leave feeling like you've spent the afternoon in the Italian countryside.

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