Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shakespeare meets Carnival in WildCat Theatre production of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream has made its rounds through the Lynchburg area, but this weekend Randolph College students will present production that promises a new spin on the classic tale.

Randolph College presents
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Feb. 23-27, 2012
7:30 p.m. (2 p.m. on Feb. 26)
Tickets: $10 general admission, $8 faculty/staff/seniors, $5 students
“Our version will be markedly different. It is inspired by Brazilian Carnival,” said Mace Archer, a Randolph theatre professor directing the show. “It's set during the festival during our production.” It takes place aboard a Carnival float with samba dancers and other celebrators. “It’s like you’re watching Carnival,” Archer said.

The fairy royalty Oberon (portrayed by Matt Cornpropst ’14) and Titania (Marian van Noppen ’12) become the king and queen of the Carnival festival. Puck (Emily Perry ’12) is more of a snappy, snazzy Vegas showgirl than the natural woodsprite of most Midsummer productions, but she plays the same tricks that cause mayhem and disrupt the course of the young lovers who have left the nearby city.

Student actors rehearse a scene from A Midsummer Night's
on the Thoresen Theatre stage in early February.
Other leading cast members include Brian Yarger ’15 as Lysander, Anne Morris ’12 as Hermia, Erin Sudol ’12 as Helena, Tory Brown ’13 as Demetrius, and Robert Santmyer ’15 as Bottom. The cast consists of 30 students, including about 10 from the Randolph College Dance program. Isabelle Dom ’12 choreographed the dances for the show.

“We have all the right actors to fit the parts of this play,” Archer said. “The energy they bring to it is phenomenal. This is the third time I've worked on Midsummer, and it’s the most energetic.”

Emily Perry '12, right, portrays the role of Puck in
an original way, combining Shakespeare with Carnival.
This is also the third time A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been performed in Lynchburg in the past year, after having a round of several performances two years ago. But the story will not be old, partly because of the Carnival setting, and partly because of the fun versatility of the story. “You could do Midsummer every year, because there are so many different ways you can do it," Archer said.

The language and storyline of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also very accessible, allowing actors and audience members to enjoy the humor. “It’s getting really funny,” Archer said.

Producing a play in a short time period while also keeping up with demanding academic programs at the College is no easy feat, but Archer said it is preparing students for careers on stage. “Figuring out how you can do really good quality work in a compressed amount of time is part of the profession now,” he said. “They’re learning how to do that.”