Wherefore art thou, drama fans?

The Abraham Lincoln High School Drama Department will present its fall production, “Best of the Bard,” at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the high school auditorium at 1205 Bonham Ave.

The production features an assortment of famous scenes from some of William Shakespeare’s greatest works, according to A.L. drama coach Stephen Mandelko. It’s the straight stuff — not a modern or humorous take on the master’s work.

“Initially, I had planned on doing ‘Hamlet’ but, after auditions, I noticed a number of other students who wanted to get involved with performance parts that wouldn’t have been able to, given the number of parts in ‘Hamlet,’” he said.

Mandelko decided to do a collection of popular Shakespeare scenes. A total of about 30 students are featured in the program, he said.

“We have a variety of scenes, sonnets and soliloquies (monologues) from his works,” he said, including the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet,” the “to be or not to be” speech from “Hamlet,” and excerpts from “Much Ado about Nothing” and “Macbeth.”

It’s not all serious, Mandelko said.

“It is a mix of genres,” he said. “While many of his most famous works are the tragedies, we have thrown some comedic pieces in there as well, such as the biting wordplay between Beatrice and Benedict in ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ and the arguing between the gravediggers in ‘Hamlet.’”

It may surprise the audience to see a female — Elexianna Rowland — playing the part of Julius Caesar.

“She has a great stage presence, and I had many females try out for the show,” Mandelko said. “Lexi auditioned well and has strength in her interpretation of the part, so she got it.”

Rowland saw it as an opportunity to portray a powerful, highly visible character, she said.

“I was primarily interested in it because I could use some other tactics vocally,” she said. “I was really surprised I was picked for the role.”

Rowland, a senior, has been in every production since she started her sophomore year but has played less prominent roles. She also plays Ophelia in a scene where the character becomes despondent in the wake of Hamlet’s deeply reflective soliloquy, she said.

She thinks the fact that A.L. is doing Shakespeare is a credit to the school.

“Shakespeare is great for young actors,” Rowland said.

Other students in prominent roles include William Luft as Romeo and Macbeth, Ethan Chambers as Marc Antony, Charles le Bien-aime as King of France and Hamlet, Callee Adkins as Lady Macbeth and Hamlet, Kyrstin Holmes as Lady Macbeth and Krystal Sheehan as Joan La Pucelle (Joan of Arc).

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults and will be available at the door.

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