30 June 2020

Fracture Shakespeare

In September of 2014 the World Showcase Players wheeled their cart of props out onto the lane of the United Kingdom one last time. The comedic storytelling troupe could be seen in the UK and Italy pavilions, and were billed as, “A troupe of comedy actors fracture Shakespeare and other playwrights with your help.” Their stories always included audience participation, not just with the casts ability to improvise responses to the crowd and call-and-repeats, but by the actors and actresses literally pulling audience members in to perform with them. The tales of Romeo and Edna and King Arthur and the Holy Grail were the most common productions, with titles usually tweaked to highlight the name of the guest who has joined the skit, but other stories were wheeled out regularly as well.

There are a couple of reasons that the sketch comedy shows linger so merrily in our memories. For one, during the early years of EPCOT Center, characters were few and far between. The culture, or caricatures as this case may be, were key components of the entertainment offerings of the park. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they were engaging and incredibly funny, especially if they happened to pick someone from your party or family to be the focal point of their shenanigans. Their cheek would start early with their town crier type of advertising something outlandish, such as free ale, before letting everyone in on the gag and starting their performance.

During the first few years of EPCOT Center, the group was known as Ye Olde Globe Players and came to Walt Disney World from St. Paul, Minnesota. Over the years many performers made their way through the group, including several faces that were familiar to long time Adventurers Club patrons. In the mid-1990s he United Kingdom pavilion became their main home and toward the end of the decade they were renamed World Showcase Players.

The world Showcase Players final performance in 2014 coincided with an overhaul of entertainment offerings throughout World Showcase, including the transition away from Off Kilter and Mo’ Rockin’. For multiple reasons, it appears that Epcot is in a state of entertainment evolution once again. I, for one, wouldn’t be opposed to see this early, and long running, troupe make another tour around the promenade.

1 comment:

Jenn @ Fairest Run Of All said...

I loved their shows SO MUCH - I would love to see them back!!