A Midsummer Night's Dream: Fall Play Preview

Thursday, November 16th, 2017


midsummer night
Walking down into the auditorium lobby, something encompasses you. The overwhelming smell of hairspray, the beautiful sound of a piano being played, and small people running past you in brightly colored outfits. A sense of mystique and wonder. Where am I? A nightmare? A dream? Have I died?

All three!

You’re in Chatham High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy written by William Shakespeare, and it starts as any good play would, with drama. It consists of four intersecting storylines. Think Love Actually. There’s one with four lovers, one with the wedding of Hippolyta and Theseus, one with the actors, and one with fairies who control everything. CHS’ production stays true to the story, except for one aspect. Instead of being set in ancient Athens, it is set in modern day New York City, specifically Central Park.

Mrs. Russo, who directs the show, says she decided to modernize it so the cast and audience could relate to it more. For example, when Hermia doesn’t agree with her father’s arranged marriage, instead of him saying he’ll kill her, he just says he’ll cut off her trust fund. The theater troupe in this version is now composed of Juilliard students. The troupe isn’t performing at the Duke of Athens’ wedding, they are performing at the mayor of New York City’s wedding.

While the time period and location of the show has been changed, the script remains almost exactly the same as the original. Mrs. Russo reports that the reciting of Shakespearean language is going well, but the “challenge comes in reciting verse and iambic pentameter.” Ronan Green, who plays Snug, says it’s hard to memorize the lines because “in Shakespeare you can’t paraphrase and change a word,” like you can in contemporary pieces. Peter Hoefler, who plays Demetrius, says “I know what I’m saying but it’s hard to memorize word for word.”

Watching the show, the cast sounded amazing. The costumes were as impressive as the acting. Many of the main characters are wearing modern clothing like a band t-shirt or their school merchandise, but the fairies are dressed rather eccentrically. What else would you expect from mythical creatures?

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Jillian Roche, who plays Puck, has her hair tied up in many tiny buns with pipe cleaner’s sticking out of them. Oberon, played by James Maltby, has pipe cleaners sticking out of his shoulders and sparkles littering his hair. Other fairies are dressed in wildly mismatching outfits, often including tutus.

Walking around backstage gave me a feeling of excitement, exasperation, and determination. Excitement because they were running through the full show for the first time and the performances were only a week away. Exasperation because preparing for a show is a long and grueling process--especially after an eight-hour school day. With determination, you could feel how much everyone wanted to succeed in the show. They wanted it to go well, with everyone remembering their lines and cues, the microphones working, the costumes looking as impressive in the audience as they do on stage, and with their hard work finally paying off.

The cast, regardless of their role in the show, is proud of what they have created as a group. They do a great job of performing the comedy the way Shakespeare intended. The show runs Friday November 17th and Saturday November 18th in the CHS auditorium. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for non-students. Come and support your friends, classmates, and the CHS theater department!