March 13, 2023

Students Unite Shakespeare Classic with Rubber Chickens and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

PBA students perform Shakespeare classic

Music and Fine Arts

“I think when people see a Shakespearean play, they think they have to brush up and know a lot about it, or they have the expectation of being lectured or taught something,” said Director Trent Stephens. “That’s just not true of this silly play. We have rubber chickens and rock ‘n’ roll music.” Palm Beach Atlantic’s theatre production of “The Comedy of Errors” provided a fresh look at this Shakespearean play.

Christian Walker, a sophomore from Orlando, played the part of Egeon, the father of twins. The play revolves around two sets of twins and their consistent misidentification of them: a major comedic element of the play. “The Comedy of Errors” was Walker’s third production with PBA, and he was the only underclassman in the cast. Walker said, “We were presented with the challenge of making it funny.” The director gave the cast the opportunity to experiment with some of the scenes, allowing them to add their own ideas and contributions to the show, and “some of those bits got some of the loudest laughs,” Walker said.

The two sets of live music, performed prior to the first act and following intermission, made the show special, Walker said. “To be able to play eight songs of popular music from different generations was very awesome to be a part of because it just doesn’t happen often.” The live performance combined bass, guitar, keys, dancers, and singers, and it was Walker’s favorite aspect of the show because it was so unique.

Comedy of errors despite the pop, rock, and country music, “the language of the play is always the same,” Stephens said. “It is always Shakespeare’s words. In terms of sensibility as to how to approach those words, we use our modern sensibility.”

“Music is a part of theatre,” Stephens said. The crowd smiled, laughed, and clapped along to the songs. The songs were popular choices, including “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. The cast engaged the audience by utilizing the entire room throughout the production, having seats lined the sides of the stage and using rubber chickens as “swords.”

Stephens, a Kentucky native, graduated from PBA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and a concentration in musical theatre. In 2022 he obtained his Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare & Performance from Mary Baldwin University. He was excited about his recent return to PBA as an assistant professor of theatre and the opportunity to direct his first PBA production, “The Comedy of Errors.”

PBA theatre’s next performance will be “Into the Woods” on April 20-22. Tickets go on sale on March 13 and will cost $20 for general admission and $10 for students.


Photo one: PBA students added a modern twist to Shakespeare’s classic “The Comedy of Errors.”

Photo two: PBA sophomore Christian Walker plays the part of Egeon in “The Comedy of Errors.”

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