URBANA — If you think of "Hamlet" when you think of William Shakespeare, think of the lighter side, too.
The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre's production of "The Taming of the Shrew" starts tonight.
Laura Alcantara directs a cast of local talent, featuring familiar faces Mindy Smith, Mathew Green and Lincoln Machula.
The play is set in Padua, an Italian city. The time?
"Then, or maybe now," the Station teases.
In the play, Baptista has two daughters. The younger, Bianca, comes off as daddy's girl.
Kate, however, is famous for being tough as nails.
Three suitors come to Padua with Bianca on their minds.
But Katharina must be married first, and Petruchio is the cleverest suitor. The fortune seeker decides he needs to woo — and dominate — Kate for all her strong will and sharp tongue, and get a dowry in return.
(You may have seen this before in the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor movie, or the musical "Kiss Me Kate.")
Thus, complications arise in one of Shakespeare's broadest and funniest plays.
Alcantara said you'll have to make up your mind about the shrew moniker.
"Our Katharina is a 'shrew' in the sense that she speaks her mind when others would prefer that she be silent — others are discomfited by her, so they've slapped that label on to her," she said.
She doesn't want to say much about the twist.
"Her courtship with Petruchio, for us, plays much more as a meeting of equals, Alcantara said.
By the way, this production cuts to the quick. Shakespeare's framing device is amusing, but doesn't make the cut.
"We will not be using the framing device/induction — we dive straight into the story at the house of Baptista," Alcantara said.
Green said that "in our version of the play, Petruchio blows into town after a lengthy period of debauchery with no source of money."
That's when things get interesting.
Petruchio "initially woos Kate because some men have paid him to (she stands in the way of their courtship with her sister), but his first explosive encounter with Kate leaves him genuinely smitten. This calls into question whether or not there's any "taming" going on, or, for that matter, if Kate is actually a 'shrew,'" Green said.
It's a happy story with a happy cast, he added.
Green called the cast excellent — "with boundless energy."
"Our director has so much passion for this play, and her take on the story is really fresh and entertaining," he said.
If you go
What: "The Taming of the Shrew"
Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway, U
When: 7:30 p.m. nightly though Sunday; 7:30 p.m. June 12-14 and 19-22; 3 p.m. June 22
Tickets: $10 to $15
Box office: 217-384-4000