Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens Wayne State University’s Studio Theatre season Oct. 12 in the lower level of the Hilberry with the undergraduate company presenting the romantic comedy.
The show runs 7 p.m. Oct. 12, 19 and 26, and 8 p.m. Oct. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, with a 3 p.m. Oct. 15 matinee. The Studio Theater is only accessible by stairs.
“Midsummer” is a romantic romp, with both human and magical beings and a play-within-a-play. Separated human lovers are bewitched, then reunited, a spell cast on a fairy queen causes her to fall in love with a donkey, and a traveling troupe comically prepares a play for a royal wedding celebration.
Directed by Lavinia Hart, associate professor of Theatre, the cast includes Veronica Estigoy as Hippolyta and Titania, Ibrahim Karim as Theseus and Oberon and Patrick Roache as Puck.
The couples are played by Katie Akers as Hermia, Laura Rose as Helena, Yakeem Tatum as Lysander and Jake Rydell as Demetrius.
Hart said “Midsummer” balances the chaos of the weather, social and political storms assailing us on a daily basis.
“It can only benefit us to engage with a Shakespearean play that revels in magic, music, dance, gorgeous language and the madness that overtakes our very beings when we are ‘in love,’” she said. “When you’re losing faith in all else, you can always believe in fairies!”
Hart said that in addition to Bottom, Demetrius, Lysander and Titania receiving remedies to undo the spells cast upon them, Titania and Oberon also need a balm that heals the wounds they inflicted on each other.
“Having gone through the process of being ‘crazy’ in love, experiencing passion’s upheavals and exploding with unreasonable vengeance, what a great permeating experience to hear all the lovers speaking with good humor and simple human affection when the new dawn comes,” she said.
Hart said she is gratified with the extensive collaborations from area artists as well as the help the graduate company actors extended to the undergraduate cast.
“Wayne State students are here to learn, work, grow and shine as artists,” she said. “I hope everyone involved will remember one of their finer moments in creating a new production of an old gem.”
Karim, who plays two contrasting characters – level-headed Theseus and emotional and powerful Oberon, said the Shakespearean play is easy for listeners to follow and audiences will leave the theater with a smile.
“Shakespeare does a great job of making his stories timeless,” he said. “His characters’ obstacles and objectives are similar to the audience’s. Everyone has fallen in love and had their heart broken. Everyone has wanted revenge.
“There is so much happening on the stage which allows the actors to play with the audience, especially inside an intimate space such as the Studio Theatre.”
Karim said he hopes audiences leave the theater with a real understanding of how Shakespearean plays work.
“There is nothing that cannot be understood with Shakespeare if the actor uses the right image and the right intention,” he said. “(You) fit the action to the word, the word to the action.”
Rydell said with the many characters and subplots in the play, there are many opportunities for audience members to relate to someone or something on stage.
“At its core, this is a play about something everyone can relate to on some level – the complexity and madness inherent in love,” he said.
Estigoy said she hopes audiences realize that Shakespearean plays are more than dated poetry.
“The best enjoyment comes from watching how the actors and director use the language to create an entirely original production,” she said. “No matter your past experience with Shakespeare – whether it be studying or watching it – come down to the Studio Theatre and let the spell of live imagination take place in front of you.”
Others in the cast include Jane Clinton as Philostrate and and Oberon fairy, with Madison Hamm as Egeus, Quince, Prologue and an Oberon fairy.
Madelynn Guerra plays Snout, Wall and an Oberon fairy, with Lauren Valice as Starvling, Moonshine and an Oberon fairy, Nigel Tutt as Bottom and Pyramus, Jose Camarena as Flute, Thisbe and an Oberon fairy and Jack Cowper as Snug, Lion and an Oberon fairy.
Rachel Fox plays Peaseblossom, with Katelyn Bettendorf as Moth, Bridget Wilkin as Cobweb and Hannah Manela as Mustard Seed.
Nicole Gerkey plays the first fairy, with Mary Anderson, Vanessa Fry and Hannah Laboyteaux as movement fairies.
For tickets call 313-577-2972 or go to theatreanddanceatwayne.edu.
HILBERRY’S ‘THE UNDERPANTS’ INSPIRES LAUGHTER
The WSU graduate theater company’s opening show of its season, Steve Martin’s “The Underpants” is a funny, light-hearted romp made all the more entertaining by the cast’s delightful exaggeration and physical comedy.
Louise, a housewife in turn-of-the-century Germany, is frustrated by her boring marriage and the overbearing propriety her husband expects of her. Then, when watching a parade, her bloomer waistband fails and her drawers drop around her ankles. Several men see her accident, are aroused by it, and begin to woo and flirt with her under the clueless watch of her stodgy spouse.
Deftly directed by guest artist Scotty Arnold, the show moves quickly and never takes itself too seriously. The tongue-in-check repartee generates laughter as does the physical comedy.
Antonia LeChe McCain as drawer-dropping Louise Maske is funny and easy to root for, just as Brandon Wright’s Theo is the stubborn spouse we love to hiss and laugh at, knowing the character will eventually get his comeuppance.
Wesley Cady is entertaining as Gertrude Deuter, the neighbor who is a surrogate big sister to Louise and who lives vicariously through her.
Ernest Bentley as Frank Versati and Cody Robison as Benjamin Cohen, the rival rogues, are entertaining as they salaciously woe Louise under the guise of renting a room in her and Theo’s home.
James Kern is amusing as Klinglehoff in a cameo role.
Scenic designer Emily Willemse’ set is elegant and bright, while Mary Elizabeth Valesano’s costumes are colorful and sumptuous.
Lighting designer Natalie Colony pulls off some clever lighting, including segments when the flickering mode is intentionally reminiscent of a silent movie.
The run continues at 8 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14, 7 p.m. Oct. 12, 2 p.m. Oct. 14 and 3 p.m. Oct. 15 at the theater, 4743 Cass, Detroit.
For tickets or more information call 313-577-2972 or go to theatreanddanceatwayne.edu.