We think that Young Willy Shakespeare would have loved what Lauren Kennedy Brady and Morgan Parpan have done to his great comedy, or rather to A Thirty-Minute Dream, which Bill Tordoff adapted from The Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show, which lasts for not quite an hour, and is aimed directly at the young people, but tickles the grownups as well, is playing at the Kennedy Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC.
Lauren Kennedy Brady directed and choreographed the show, putting an excellent and lively cast of 17 through their paces with nonstop entertainment. First and foremost, it captures the very essence of William Shakespeare, the tomfoolery, the actions suited to the words, the universality of the tensions between characters, the depth of silliness, plus the addition of a modern-day young boy (played by William Kalland) for whom all of this is a real-life dream.
Ben Redding introduces and pretty much MC’s the show in the persona of Puck (Robin Goodfellow). His athleticism in the role guides the energy of the ensemble, which is high from start to finish.
The wonderful fairy threesome of Moth, Mustardseed, and Cobweb is filled by Riley Campbell, Kameron Draper, and Chloe Calhoun, who are sweet charming and delightful.
Tim Caudle doubles nicely as Theseus, Duke of Athens, and Oberon, King of the Fairies. Caudle is a great jovial man whose stage presence is felt not only by his girth but also by his strong personality, and unexpected dexterity.
The Mechanicals — Snug, Tom Stout, Francis Flute, Nick Bottom, Robin Starveling, and Peter Quince — are played by Susanna Skaggs, Evan Tylka, Melvin Gray, Liam Yates, Alexandra Finazzo, and Sean McCracken, respectively. Yates is hilarious with Bottom’s cleverly built head of an ass, and McCracken’s Peter Quince commands them all with authority while still being engagingly funny. The six of them together bring plenty of laughter.
Mary Kathryn Walston does double duty as Hippolyta and Titania, overcoming the challenge of making the audience distinguish between the two roles.
Hermia and Helena, who each end up with the right lover, but not before a vicious fight, are played by Meagan Chieppor and Victoria Moore. Their lovers, Lysander (Michael Perez) and Demetrius (Will Thomason), are best friends until Puck works his mischief for Oberon; but, of course, all ends well. All four of these mixed and unmixed lovers are given stalwart and comedic performances.
Scenic designer/technical director Tim Domack puts us right in the forest, with a cave from which Puck springs onto the stage, and the wonderful convenience of a row of pillowed risers along one side for the kiddies to climb up on and be practically right on the stage.
Elaine Brown’s costumes are light and colorful. The Mechanicals’ costumes in the Thisbe and Pyramus play-within-a-play are amusing and perfect for a child’s show — they belong to the creatures of the woods.
Lighting designer Christina Munich keeps us in the wildwood and gives us a wonderful vision when Puck tosses the circle of the spotlight around. And the story was brought into the 21st century by the sounds and music of Brian Hitzigrath.
Bring the whole family, kids of three to a hundred-and-three, and help the youngsters understand why Shakespeare lives.
SECOND OPINION: March 9th Raleigh, NC WRAL.com review by Sarah Lindenfeld Hall for “Go Ask Mom”: http://www.wral.com/review-theatre-raleigh-s-a-midsummer-night-s-dream/16575485/; and March 2nd Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article136025458.html. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the March 13th Triangle Review review by Dustin K. Britt, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/03/theatre-raleigh-creates-a-magical-musical-midsummer-nights-dream-like-none-other/ .)
Theatre Raleigh presents A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at 3 and 6 p.m. March 12, 6 p.m. March 16 and 17, and 3 and 6 p.m. March 18 and 19 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theatre in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $15 ($10 children).
BOX OFFICE: 919-832-9997, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S610000036KjIEAU.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-832-9997 or email@example.com.
SHOW: https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/the-wolf-theatre-raleigh-private-event-8116.
2017 FAMILY SERIES: https://theatreraleigh.secure.force.com/ticket.
PRESENTER: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Theatre-Raleigh/349124511834045, and https://twitter.com/TheatreRaleigh.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (c. 1595-96 comedy): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Midsummer_Night’s_Dream (Wikipedia).
Script: http://web.archive.org/web/20080504220930/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ShaMNDF.html (1623 First Folio Edition, courtesy the University of Virginia in Charlottesville) and http://web.archive.org/web/20080821025001/http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/MobMids.html (1866 Globe Edition, also courtesy UVa).
Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/Midsummer/nights.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
William Shakespeare (English playwright and poet, 1564-1616): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare (Wikipedia).
Lauren Kennedy Brady (director and choreographer and Theatre Raleigh artistic director): http://laurenkennedy.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=70340 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2757787/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/slaurenkennedy (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/slaurenkennedy (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_Kennedy (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.