BWW Reviews: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the Shakespeare Theatre Company
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by Charles Shubow
There are so many trap doors in Lee Savage wonderfully inventive set that I was reminded of the television classic "Laugh-In". Fairies rise up from all parts of the stage.
There was also an homage to the wonderful theatrical troupe Cirque du Soleil with actors flying all over the stage and some actors doing incredible acrobatics.
Director Eric McSweeney is quite accomplished and he excels at his game thanks in large part to a magnificent cast and clever and colorful costumes by Jennifer Moeller.
This is a MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM for the ages and has been selling out Sidney Harman Hall consistently leading to extending the play a week until January 6, 2013.
I have always been impressed with the Shakespeare Theatre Company's impressive publication "Asides" and before you see the show (or even afterwards), I highly recommend the many wonderful articles and photos that enhance the enjoyment of all of their productions.
Thanks to Norman Allen's wonderful piece, he explained that McSweeney feels the play is like a three-ring circus. "You've got the world of the fairies, the world of the lovers, which includes the court of Athens, and then you have the Mechanicals , who are, themselves attempting to put on a play."
The stage is also split into threes. The show opens in front of the curtain taking place in Athens. When the curtain opens, the stage reveals the famous troupe known as the "Mechanicals" set in an old theater that has seen better days. Finally the gigantic sliding doors in the rear of the stage reveal the magic of the forest.
I have to admit that I fell in love with the "Mechanicals". Ted Van Griethuysen plays the understated Peter Quince who leads the group of local amateur actors into an old theater humming Broadway tunes the entire evening initially humming "There's No Business Like Show Business" and then added "Whistle a Happy Tune" and "Give My Regards to Broadway". Who thinks up this stuff? Also included in the troupe are terrific actors like David Graham Jones (as Francis Flute), Herschel Sparber (as Tom Snout), Robert Dorfman (as Snug and it's great to see Dorfman back locally on stage) and the amazing Christopher Bloch (as Robin Starveling).
Then there's Nick Bottom played by the incomparable Bruce Dow (who was recruited from the Stratford Festival in Ontario) who should remind everyone in the audience of Eric Stonestreet (if you are fans of the Emmy-winning comedy "Modern Family). No one will forget Dow's incredible performance.
Other actors who excel are Topham (Titania) and Tim Campbell (as Oberon). Adam Green is superb as Puck. At the end of Act I, he literally mixes concrete on stage which leads to a slapstick scene which had the crowd roaring.
The Shakespeare Theatre has many family friendly evenings during the Family Week (December 11-16). A "Family Four Pack" priced at $120 includes four tickets in the mezzanine section.
There are also FREE abridged performances of four scenes from the play featuring STC Teaching Artists and include an interactive discussion geared toward younger audiences. Each performance will be held in The Forum in Sidney Harman Hall These are held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 11, 15, and 16 and noon on Dec. 12.
On December 15, 2012, there is "A Mid Afternoon's Dream". Following the show, enjoy a sneak peak at the magic behind the illusions on stage, as well as a party with family-friendly activities on the Orchestra Terrace, fun food and drink and the chance to meet the stars of the show. These tickets are $125.
There is also a free Post-Show Cast Discussion after the Dec. 19 performance.
To read the "Asides", visit www.Asides.ShakespeareTheatre.org.
For tickets, call 202-547-1122 or visit www.ShakespeareTheatre.org.
For the Family Week tickets visit www.ShakespeareTheatre.org/FamilyWeek or call 202-547-1122, option 1 with promo code TARGET.
For tickets to the Mid Afternoon's Dream, call 202-547-3230, Ext. 2312 or email TWagnger@shakespeareTheatre.org.
What a great holiday treat!
FELA returns AGAIN to Shakespeare Theatre
After a sold-out run in 2011, the hit Broadway musical FELA returns to Sidmey Harman Hall from January 29-February 10, 2013. Do not miss this show. Adesola Osakalumi returns to star as Fela Kuti. Call 202-547-1122 for tickets.