Outdoor Production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare Opens Aug. 25th in Cary

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the Town of Cary's second annual summer Shakespearean production in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the Town of Cary's second annual summer Shakespearean production in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the Town of Cary's second annual summer Shakespearean production in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the second annual summer Shakespearean comedy in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre

The Town of Cary will present A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1600), another classic comedy by English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616), under the stars — weather permitting — at 8 p.m. on Aug. 25-28 in the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Regency Park. Organizers say that due to potential inclement weather caused by Hurricane Irene, all tickets purchased in advance may be used for any performance.

Midsummer has a very special place in my heart,” admits director David Henderson. “Just over 15 years ago, I played Bottom for Theatre in the Park; and the love affair with this show began.

“In 2007,” Henderson says, “I directed the piece for Burning Coal Theatre Company; and here I am again working on the production for the third time. Midsummer still captures my imagination, makes me laugh and inspires me as a director.”

He adds, “Every time I work on this piece, I find something new to love about it. One of the beautiful things about Shakespeare’s work is that it challenges and continues to grow with you as an actor, director, and viewer.

“The first time I did the show,” Henderson confesses, “I was in my mid-20s. The things that moved me about the show then have changed since that time. Now, I find myself moved by the passion of the lovers, the commitment of the rustics, and the presence of a world that can exist beyond the human realm.”

According to the Town of Cary’s production team for A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“This is the second year for Shakespeare at Koka Booth Amphitheatre and we figured a lot out last year, but it is huge space. This demands a lot from the entire cast and crew.

“This year, we have created a defined intimate acting space, with includes an elaborately painted raked stage. This gives all the audience an unobstructed view.

“Like last year, the entire cast will wear mics, so that people can hear the tale; and we have a lighting design that takes into consideration that it is still daylight when the show starts.

“One of the other big challenges that exist for any Shakespeare production is the baggage we bring with us when we engage the work as audience member. One of the ways we have tackled this challenge has been to engage everyone in a discussion via weekly blogs that have had specific themes for each week, i.e., Shakespearian language, aesthetic concepts surrounding this production, etc. Additionally, this year we created an Educational/Experiential Guide that has pre-show and post-show activities, history, pictures, and in-depth information about Shakespeare.”

WARNING: This Section Contains “Spoilers.”

When the curtain rises on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, say Henderson and assistant director and dramaturg Jeremy Fiebig:

“There’s a big argument in the real world between Theseus (Chris Muntel) and Hippolyta (Dana Marks), which gets resolved and they plan to marry. There is also the ongoing squabble between Hermia (Natasha Patcholi Khatod) and her father Egeus (Fred Corlett), and [between] the King and Queen of the fairy world — Oberon (Muntel) and Titania (Marks).

“As the play starts, the arguments remain generally unresolved. Hermia and her boyfriend Lysander (Matthew Hagar) run off to the woods, but are followed by another suitor for Hermia, Demetrius (Jesse Janowsky). In pursuit of Demetrius is the young woman Helena (PJ Maske), formerly loved by Demetrius.

“Hermia’s father Egeus prefers Demetrius as a suitor [for his daughter], and enlists the aid of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to enforce his wishes upon his daughter. According to Athenian law, Hermia is given four days to choose between Demetrius, life in a nunnery, or a death sentence. Hermia, ever defiant, makes the choice to escape with Lysander into the forest.

“Complications arise in the forest. Oberon and Titania … are locked in a dispute over a [changeling] boy whom Titania has adopted. Oberon instructs his servant Puck (Lucius Robinson) to bring him magic love drops, which Oberon will sprinkle on the Queen’s eyelids as she sleeps, whereupon Titania will fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking.

“Meanwhile, Helena and Demetrius are now lost in woods. Oberon has overheard their plight, and takes pity upon them. He commands Puck to place the magic drops upon the eyelids of Demetrius as well, so that Demetrius will fall in love with Helena. Puck, however, makes the mistake of putting the drops on the eyelids of Lysander …. Helena stumbles over Lysander in the forest, and the spell is cast — Lysander now desires Helena, and renounces a stunned Hermia.

“In the midst of this chaos, a group of craftsmen (Chris Burner, Jeremy Fiebig, Ira David Wood IV, Del Flack, Mattney Beck, and David Klionsky) are rehearsing for a production of ‘[The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of] Pyramus and Thisbe,’ to be played for the Duke at his wedding. Puck casts a spell on Bottom (Chris Burner) to give him the head of a donkey.

“Bottom, as fate would have it, is the first thing Titania sees when she awakes; hence, Bottom ends up being lavishly kept by the Queen. Oberon enjoys this sport, but is less amused when it becomes apparent that Puck has botched up the attempt to unite Demetrius and Helena.

“Oberon himself anoints Demetrius with the love potion, and ensures that Helena is the first person he sees; however, Helena understandably feels that she is now being mocked by both Demetrius and Lysander (who is still magically enamored of her).

“Finally, Oberon decides that all good sports must come to an end. He puts the four lovers to sleep and gives Lysander the antidote for the love potion, so that he will love Hermia again when they all wake up.

“Next, Oberon gives Titania the antidote; and the King and Queen reconcile. Theseus and Hippolyta then discover Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius asleep in the forest. All return to Athens to make sense of what they think is a strange dream.

“Likewise, Bottom returns to his players, and they perform ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ at the wedding feast [of Theseus and Hippolyta], which is managed by Philostrate (Diego Lund). As everyone retires, fairies (Lormarev Jones, Randi Winter, Samantha Corey, Brett Stegall, Ashley Lorenz, Jessica Jalal Phelps, and Mary Forester) perform their blessings and Puck delivers a tender epilogue soliloquy.”

END of Section Containing “Spoilers.”

In addition to director David Henderson and assistant director and dramaturg Jeremy Fiebig, the Town of Cary’s creative team for A Midsummer Night’s Dream includes producer Deb Royals-Mizerk, scenographer Shannon Clark, associate scenographer Nora Murphy, lighting designer Stephen Ellison, sound designer Fred Brumbach, stage manager Andy Hayworth, and amphitheatre production manager Dave Clemmer. The show’s choreography is credited to “The Fabulous Fairy Folk.”

Scenographer Shannon Clark claims, “The most predominant feature of our set is the ‘moon.’ Shakespeare mentions the moon over a hundred times in his original script. In our production, the moon hangs over the raked staging area, and [it] will be highlighted using colored and patterned light.”

Lighting designer, Stephen Ellison adds, “Since the venue is outside, the lighting for this show starts out slowly while we wait for the sun to set. When it is fully dark outside, we will be recreating an evening woodland environment, one that makes us aware of the magic of nature, dreams, and the possibility that surrounds the loveliness of a summer moon.”

Shannon Clark says, “Our costumes are inspired by the ‘steam punk’ fashion. This inspiration has rendered an anachronistic blend of junk opera, steam punk and North Carolina rural styles. The ‘Royals’ are a reflection of what anyone would consider stately. In opposition, the ‘Rustics’ [i.e., craftsmen] are good-hearted, hard-working folk.

“The fairies are imaginative interpretations of all this magical,” Clark says. “From boots to bustles to Elizabethan ruffs to ballet tutus, they embody all that can dance and make delight.”

Producer Deb Royals-Mizerk notes:

“Production team members and performers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream have worked diligently to create a community family around this production, from picnicking and music on the lawn at [the] Koka Booth [Amphitheatre] before the show, to our conversations behind the scenes that have taken place on our blogs and Facebook [see http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/groups/108890072539009/], to the extended opportunities for learning that are available in the Education/Experiential Guide.

“A wonderful part of experiencing shows at Booth Amphitheatre is that audience members [and] their families and friends can bring picnics to the performances. This fellowshipping opportunity places people together ‘around the table,’ so to speak.

“Before the show begins, there is eating, drinking, talking, laughing, music, and community making. In Shakespeare’s day, this merriment was a common aspect that audiences shared whenever they came together to see his plays.

“Our goal for this production was to create this same environment. The blog and Facebook conversations with actors and members of our community have allowed a rich pre-performance conversation for the people of Cary, the Triangle and the entire State of North Carolina.

“There are multiple interactive events planned, some of which include a Fairy Costume Contest, Best Picnic Spread Contest, and a panel discussion opportunity about Shakespeare and this production, where audience will be able to ask questions and discuss this production, and Shakespearean history. ([Complete information about a]ll activities planned for this production, contests, blog, Facebook info, and Education/Experiential Guide can be found on the Koka Booth Amphitheatre website at http://www.boothamphitheatre.org/.)

The Town of Cary presents A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at 8 p.m. Aug. 25-28 at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary, North Carolina 27518.


Advance Tickets: $15 general admission lawn seats ($10 students and seniors) and table seats are $25 each and $50 for four.

Day-of-Show Tickets: $20 general admission lawn seats ($15 students and seniors) and table seats are $30 each. Note: Children 12 and under get FREE lawn seats the day of the show.

BOX OFFICE: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115235/919150.

SHOW: http://www.boothamphitheatre.com/event_aug26.htm.

STUDY GUIDE: http://boothamphitheatre.com/media/MNDEdu-Exper Guide.pdf.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES BLOG: http://kokaboothamphitheatre.tumblr.com/.

PRESENTER: http://www.townofcary.org/.

VENUE: http://www.boothamphitheatre.com/.

DIRECTIONS: http://boothamphitheatre.com/directions.htm.

PARKING: http://boothamphitheatre.com/parking.htm.


The Play (background): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream (Wikipedia).

The Play (e-text): http://shakespeare.mit.edu/midsummer/full.html (Project Gutenberg).

The Play (study guide): http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/Midsummer/nights.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).