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This week in Curtain Calls ONLINE at pridesource.com: JET’s new season and other theater news.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” staged by the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, runs in repertory at the Michael Baughman Theater on the campus of Jackson Community College, Jackson, through Aug. 6. Tickets: $23-$26. For information: 517-796-8600 or http://www.michshakefest.org.
Let’s be honest. The thought of sitting through a three-hour Shakespearean tragedy doesn’t appeal to everyone. So the wise folks in charge of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival have counterbalanced The Bard’s longest drama with one of his most beloved comedies. After all, what’s there not to like about a romantic story populated by green-speckled, punk-like fairy-folk, a scary man in drag and a jovial, rotund fellow with the face of an ass named Bottom?
No, I’m not talking about a visit to Gigi’s Show Bar on a Saturday night. Rather, I’m referring to the festival’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” quite possibly the most delightful – and funniest – staging of the Shakespeare masterpiece to hit a local theater in a long, long time!
At the show’s opening we meet Theseus, the Duke of Athens, as he prepares for his wedding to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. However, an unhappy Egeus barges in, hoping that the Duke will compel his daughter, Hermia, to marry Demetrius instead of the man she desires, Lysander. The Duke gives her until his own wedding to change her mind, or off she’ll go to the nunnery. That doesn’t sit well with Hermia, who not only decides to elope with her beloved, but she shares that secret with Helena, who uses the news to win over Demetrius for herself. Demetrius, of course, wants no part of her.
If that’s not complicated enough, Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of Fairies, are having their own relationship problems. And a mystical potion mistakenly delivered by Puck, Oberon’s second-in-command, only worsens matters – for humans and fairies alike.
The show’s magic comes not only from Shakespeare’s words, but from the vision of its director, David Ivers. With a resume that includes work at nearly every major Shakespeare festival in the country, Ivers delivers a finely-tuned production in which he gleefully explores every nuance and human emotion built into the script. Yet it’s the little things that especially stand out – the quick glance here, the tell-tale guffaw there – each of which adds to the show’s overall charm.
Especially astute is Ivers’ eye for casting. Although the entire cast is to be commended for an excellent evening of theater, especially notable are the very comical Elizabeth Hoyt (Helena), Nathaniel Nose (an Oberon unlike any you’ve seen before), Carly Germany (Hermia), Cameron Knight (Demetrius), Mark Robson (Puck), Richard C. Redman (Nick Bottom) and Mark Gmazel (whose appearance in drag pretty much stops the show).