by Beki Pineda
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Written by William Shakespeare; Directed by Carolyn Howarth. Produced by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (at the Mary Rippon outdoor theatre on the CU Boulder campus) through August 15 (check the website for exact performance dates). Tickets available at 303-492-8008 or cupresents.org.
Any director will tell you that perfect casting is probably 90% of their success. Getting the right actor into the right role in the right show can be magical. Even when the casting is against type or unorthodox.
Director Howarth and Casting Director Sylvia Gregory exercised their creativity and imagination in casting this summer’s DREAM. Putting the brilliantly comedic Leslie O’Connor into the boots of one of Shakespeare’s funniest characters – Nick Bottom – was a stroke of genius. My bet is that this was a role Leslie always wanted to play and never thought she’d get that chance. Her portrayal of Bottom’s confidence in his ability to play all the roles in a play within the play, her snorts and ass-like whinnies as she becomes the butt of a joke, her casual acceptance of a Fairy Queen’s love as her due in life all contribute to the creation of a memorable Bottom.
Their equally bold move involves the casting of Scott Coopwood, a Festival favorite. He is generally cast in weighty roles such as Hamlet, MacBeth, Shylock, Iago, etc. with suitable gravitas that befits his considerable talent. Again, my guess is that he has played the thwarted Oberon, King of the Fairies, a number of times but was never considered for the comic role of Puck, the King’s somewhat incompetent but adorable minion. This interpretation of the script probably allows Scott to fulfill two things on his bucket list – to play the lighthearted role of Puck AND to become a rock star!! He does both equally well.
The production is performed as a sort of psychedelic rock concert with music rooted in the 80’s as a background soundtrack. Everyone gets to make a dramatic grand entrance and dance on stage to the music of The Clash, REO Speedwagon, Queen, and other great rock bands. The costumes are a mélange of street clothes for the young lovers, functional work clothes for the mechanicals and fantasy rock ‘n’ roll costumes for the magical fairy characters. A feast for the eyes. I want Titania’s red tulle skirt!!
The Mechanicals – that troop of common folk workers who are chosen to perform an interlude for the wedding – always provide a sweet dose of comedy with which to end the fairy tale evening. In addition to Leslie who plays Pyramus, a young lover in the Interlude, the happy band also includes Sean Scrutchins as the Prologue to their play; Sean Michael Cummings as the beauteous Thisbe; Josue Miranda playing the wall with a chink; Seth Palmer Harris as the apologetic Lion; and Lauren Dennis as the Moonshine that illuminates the scene. Together they make a delightful mess of the whole thing.
This lighthearted evening was an excellent choice to start the long awaited re-emergence of the Shakespeare Festival. Come back to Shakespeare Under the Stars!!
A WOW factor of 8.5!!