Ponte Vedra High School Drama Teacher Jason Nettle is starring in Apex Theatre Studio’s fast-paced and satirical production, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged,” at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall this weekend.
Also an improv teacher at Apex, Nettle is one of three members of the studio’s teaching faculty featured in the show, which weaves its way through all 37 of Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies and histories in 97 minutes. For those not itching to learn about the English playwright, Nettle emphasized that the improv-based show is not very Shakespearean at all.
“If you hate Shakespeare, you will love this show,” said Nettle, who previously was a troupe member of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City as well as a Broadway performer. “It’s just ridiculous and hysterical. My major goal is to get the audience to laugh.”
Originally premiering in London, the show became the city’s longest-running comedy. In addition to Nettle, the local production of the show features Apex teachers Emily Auwaerter and Robert Reid. Nettle, who noted that he individually plays 20 different Shakespearian roles throughout the show, said all three performers have different backgrounds. He explained that Auwaerter is more theatrical-based and Reid comes from the Chicago comedy scene.
Apex Managing Director Ian Mairs elaborated in saying that the show provides the studio’s students with an opportunity to watch their instructors on stage.
“At the center of our studio is a group of dynamic teaching artists,” he said. “We feel it’s important for our students to have the opportunity to watch their mentors in action. This show is a riot, and all three of these performers bring their considerable comedy chops into the rehearsal hall.”
Also participating in the production of the show is Ponte Vedra High School rising senior Chase Pittman, a student of Nettle who is serving as an understudy. He explained that his role is to fill in for one of the three cast members if they’re unable to perform.
“It’s been nothing but a blast,” said Pittman. “It’s been one of the more unique and creative experiences I’ve had the chance to work on.”
The opening performance for the show will begin at 8 p.m. Friday, July 21 and will be followed by two additional performances at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, July 22. Tickets are $25 each and available for purchase at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and St. Augustine Amphitheatre box offices, ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets and by phone at (800) 745-3000.
For Nettle, the show provides him with an opportunity to put down the clipboard and jump back into the limelight where he spent so much of his career.
“If you come see Ponte Vedra High School theater shows, you see shows where I have to be in charge of everything and be in control of directing, lighting, sets, administration and ticket sales,” said Nettle, who also previously served as the stage manager of Alhambra Theatre & Dining. “It’s finally nice for me to be on the other end and give up control and get back on stage and perform.”