Cabaret Theatre puts on stage adaptation of Kenneth Branagh film.

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Beginning Thursday, Feb. 18, Capital University will host “A Midwinter’s Tale,” originally a film by Kenneth Branagh, that has never been staged before.

The film has been adapted for the Cabaret Theatre by Bill Kennedy, a Capital University theatre professor.

“I had seen [A Midwinter’s Tale] and really enjoyed it and, turns out, Dr. [Dan] Heaton and I are both really big fans of it,” said Kennedy.

Photo by Dan Stemen

After throwing around several ideas, Kennedy began the process of getting permission from Branagh himself.

“I wrote to the studio where he was filming and sent my usual pitch of ‘It’s a small college program and I’m trying to give students new experiences and I’d like to do this,’” said Kennedy. “I usually expect them to say no.”

But this time, they didn’t.

A few weeks after approval, Kennedy received a letter from Branagh telling him to go ahead and adapt his movie for the stage. Kennedy spent the entire summer writing the show to be performed during Capital University’s 100th year in theater.

Several things were changed in the switch from screen to stage, such as moving the town from England to New York, removing the English slang, and rearranging the scenes in a way that would make sense on stage. Kennedy also wanted to modernize it.

“The big thing that did not exist when the movie came out were cell phones. A whole element of the plot is that they keep going out to a phone booth to make phone calls and I thought, ‘that’s not going to work,’” said Kennedy.

Students in the play look forward to bringing the film to the stage for the first time.

“It’s kind of awesome,” said first-year Katie Haught, who plays Mrs. Branch. “It kind of gives us the liberty to add our own touch to it.”

This show has also brought several theatre alumni back to the Cabaret stage.

R.J. Shuman, alumnus, was excited to work on this production, as he loved the movie.

“The movie came out my senior year when I was doing all of my theatre nerd stuff here,” said Shuman. “I actually saw it at the Drexel.”

This show also incorporated fight choreography, choreographed by alumni Doug and Erin Gibbons, which includes swords.

“I was very nervous about it, but it’s turned out to be one of the coolest experiences I’ve had on stage,” said Cedric Gegel, junior.

Showtimes for “A Midwinter’s Tale” are 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 through Saturday, Feb. 20 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Feb. 21. The shows will take place in the Cabaret Theater, located in the basement of the Student Union.

Admission is free for Capital students who present their student ID. Reservations are encouraged and can be made at 614-236-7174.

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