The stage is set, quite literally, as audience members settle into the Eagle Rock Auditorium on the opening night of Midsummer Nightmare! For this year’s Fall semester play, the Eagle Rock Theater Company has taken on the challenge of Shakespeare once more in another adaptation of one of his not-so idyllic love stories. However, our resident theater teacher, Mrs. Kissam said that the only nightmare was in the story and that she is “one lucky drama momma” for the cast and crew she works with!
The night was December the 2nd, opening night. As audience members settled into their seats their excitement brewing with the anticipation of the story about to unfold in front of them! Suddenly, as velvet green curtains are drawn, dazzling sets appear surrounding the accompanying actors that suddenly pepper the stage. The story follows the tale of two forbidden lovers, an unrequited love, fairies in a dysfunctional marriage, and a troop of aspiring actors! It’s a thrilling yet classic story! I went into this play with little to no knowledge of the original story and found myself captivated by the imagery, dialogue, comedy, drama, and character that the cast and crew brought to the stage!
Dao Barnett plays the most notable comic relief, “Bottom”. He’s a boisterous and obnoxious actor who overshadows his entire troop with his ambition to play every character in their show. He’s loud, he’s inconsiderate, and he gets his comeuppance when the Pucks (Shepherd Lee Williams, Nadezhda Brennan, and Lily Goldsmith) change out his head for that of a donkey! And Barnett puts on such an incredible and energetic performance. They said that the process was challenging but they were excited to play such a bubbly personality and were satisfied with the results!
Speaking of the Pucks, they also play into a major element of comedy in the show! As jesters of the Fairy King they are naturally mischievous and seemingly make a habit of havoc. Shepherd Lee Williams plays the “head Puck” and brings such life to the character! He plays off his fellow actors incredibly and you can feel the chemistry from the back of the auditorium! Lily Goldsmith is undeniably charming and brings such a sweet, fun-loving air to both the stage and character! Same goes for Nadezhda Brennan, who was able to show exactly what she was thinking even when she wasn't speaking. Each member of the trio was so generous on stage and each let each other have a moment in the sun!
Shelsee Hernandez and Daniela Monge (who play Hippolyta and Francis Flute) told me that they loved the way the show turned out. They offered insight on how challenging tech week was on top of learning a dance, accent, and how to become a Shakespearian character. They did journaling exercises as the character and worked tirelessly until they perfected every aspect of their performance. It’s very clear to see that this dedication paid off in dividends!
I’ve mentioned fairies a couple of times. The fairies in this story are unlike the ones we have read about in fairytales. They can be mean, conniving, and in questionable marriages. Everett May plays Oberon, King of the fairies and Claire Young plays Titania, Queen of the fairies and his other half. These two play enemies incredibly and they both perfectly balance a serious and self-aware performance.
Arguably the stars of that night were the main cast made up of Ivy Klein, Sophia Duenas, and Cooper Snedden and Violet Blue Borsay. They played couples Lysander and Hermia, and Demitrius and Helena. The performance these four put on was simply dazzling. They always hit their marks both dramatic and comedic. I felt entirely immersed in the story of their love as it is manipulated and tried. It’s a great show of an actor’s range and these actors hit the nail on the head!
Actors aren’t the only ones who really made this spectacle pop off the page. Quite literally in fact, behind the scenes stage, construction, makeup, and costume managers hid away. I got to talk to these people and it’s not hard to see how upbeat, charming, and happy to be there the crew is!
Westley, the stage manager, is calm, cool, and collected for working in such a high pressure job. Talking with him, it’s easy to see how experienced he is in the field and how Ms. Kissam must not have been lying when she touted how smooth production went! Construction Leads Nick and Tyreese corroborate this with their descriptions of the family they have found behind the scenes. 40-person strong, Nick says that he thinks that “the crew is even tighter” than the cast. He says that the first 2 weeks can be a bit of a struggle, but once everyone gets to talking the jokes don’t stop. I found something very similar in the makeup department. This tiny crew of hard workers is made up of Michelle, Ace, JC, Thali, and Genesis. All new to the department, they found themselves bonding on late nights, applying makeup to each other's faces. All of these people did have a couple things in common. They all stated that the best part of theater was the loving, understanding, and accepting family they have found and that the best part of the show was seeing everything you worked for come to life on opening night.
Ms. Kissam. A school legend, she has been teaching the arts at Eagle Rock for decades. I got to talk to her and she told me that she loves seeing the community that she has cultivated come together to create something unique, creative, something that took time and effort, come to life. “Like little stars bursting inside my body” she says about seeing the smiles on her cast and crew’s faces as they watch a vision fall off the page and onto the stage! Kissam does note that theater requires patience in every aspect of production, patience and humor. It requires dedication (to which she recommends dripping out of sports) but that the love you experience will feel “like eating pudding”. I asked her if she had advice for anyone on the fence about joining theater, she told me: “Just try, take my class and try it out.” She encourages anyone who believes in themselves and their ability to come audition for the Spring Musical!
Congratulations all! Thank you for an incredible production!