‘The Learned Ladies’ to deliver wit and humor

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Photo by Faith Owan

Kainoa Shimizu plays the levelheaded Ariste, and Danann Mitchell plays the arrogant Belise in 'The Learned Ladies' to open Friday at 7:30 p.m. The play will run March 4-5 and 11-12 with a 2 p.m. matinee on the last Saturday.

The clever comedy The Learned Ladies will bring romance, fun, and pompous intellect to the stage. With quick remarks and jaunty staging, this fast-paced play’s characters bring laughs at every turn on a gorgeous set.

This updated version of Les Femmes Savantes by the famous French playwright Molière, is the story of a young Henriette being pushed to marry the fraudulent poet Trissotin, who is only in need of money and connections. She wishes to marry the charming Clitandre, but her mother, Philamente, is set on Trissotin’s seemingly poetic genius, which she hopes to tap into to improve herself in the process.

Director Ms. Camille Romero said that the cast is taking on the lively characters nicely. For a week before rehearsals, she sat down with them to look up unfamiliar words in the script, discuss the characters, and teach them more about the context of certain lines and scenes.

“When we got on our feet, people had a better sense about who they were,” Ms. Romero said.

Senior Danann Mitchell performs with her signature comedic timing and contagious energy as Henriette’s aunt Belise, who loves grammar, science, and being the center of attention.

“She actually doesn’t know anything about what she’s talking about,” Mitchell said. “She thinks everyone’s in love with her, and she thinks she’s smart, but she’s not.”

Mitchell said that this play allows students to dive into their roles more than any other production she’s been in since it’s necessary for the cast to connect with their characters. Without making a connection, “a large chunk of the show is lost.”

Mitchell said that this need for character development gives students the chance to branch out.

“It’s given us a great opportunity to try new things while also incorporating things that we’ve learned already,” she said.

Another distinctive character in The Learned Ladies is Aeris Joseph-Takeshita’s Philamente, a woman with a love for philosophy, science, and poetry. Joseph-Takeshita’s well-constructed haughtiness makes her character come to life.

“She really loves the idea of knowledge. She’s kind of crazy; she’s an angry character. She rarely smiles,” Joseph-Takeshita said.

She said that this is the first production in which she won’t be playing “a damsel or a young teenage girl,” and she is excited to be exploring a new character.

“It reassures me that I can play different things,” she said. “So I’m really glad that I get to leave with my motherly role.”

Joseph-Takeshita said that this play’s relevant themes and humor will send the senior Drama Club members out “with a bang.”

This lively production is opening tonight and playing March 4-5 and 11-12, at 7:30 p.m. on each day, except that there is also an additional matinee showing on Saturday, March 12.

“I am most excited about [the] audience coming and seeing their friends and family members on the stage playing characters and doing things that they’ve never seen them do before,” Ms. Romero said.