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Unplugged: Savannah Shakes’ ‘The Tempest’ takes on spirit of David Bowie

  • Savannah Shakes’ production of “The Tempest” features nods to David Bowie, Queen and more. (Photo by Megan Jones)

Unplugged: Savannah Shakes’ ‘The Tempest’ takes on spirit of David Bowie

04 Jul 2017

Last Sunday, a strong thunderstorm roared through downtown Savannah during the final act of Savannah Shakes’ production of “The Tempest” at Bay Street Theatre at Club One.

The booming storm would obviously have been more fitting during the opening act, but nature’s theatrics still seemed a brilliant pairing with Shakespeare’s magical language.

Under the direction of Sheila Lynne Bolda, Savannah Shakes has set “The Tempest” in Isle 54, a 1970s-era disco. The show is guided by the spirit and music of David Bowie, many of whose songs are included in the production.

As the mystical Ariel, Jeremiah Kizer first takes the stage costumed as Ziggy Stardust. No, this is not your usual take on Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s Prospero has been turned here to Prospera, played commandingly by Pamela Sears, who directs much of the action with her magical staff. The evocative interactions between Sears and Kizer fuel some of the play’s strongest moments.

The castaways of Shakespeare’s play here become club hoppers from Milan. There are both tense and humorous moments as the band of characters explore the play’s themes of isolation and power, but some scenes felt a bit rushed during this fast-paced production, which runs just over two hours, including an intermission.

“’The Tempest’ is neither comedy nor tragedy,” director Bolda writes in the program notes, “but a dramatic blend of elements of both. In a world draped in constant drama, it’s important to keep the magic alive through art and music.”

No matter the storms around you, there is bound to be some comfort in “The Tempest.”

Next up for Savannah Shakes is a production of “Titus Andronicus” in November.

Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged ( and hissing lawns ( Email


What: Savannah Shakes presents “The Tempest”

When: 8 p.m. July 6 and 7; 3 p.m. July 8 and 9

Where: Bay Street Theatre, Club One, 1 Jefferson St.

Cost: $15, $10 students and seniors; ages 16 and older for matinees; 18 and older for evenings

Info: 912-421-9585 or