A Midsummer Night's Dream
by Poway High School

There’s no sleeping during this Midsummer Night’s Dream. Director Rollin Swan keeps things lively and fun throughout this great production at Poway High School, opening it with the young Athenian crowds surging into the theatre dressed in 1960s garb and dancing to the Beatles’ She Loves You (while Bottom and the other mechanicals seem unimpressed by it all, no doubt certain that they can put something much grander on the stage given a chance).

Shakespeare’s story of love and fairies kicks off with Hermia’s father demanding that she marry Demetrius (the Athenian crowd boo-hisses) and give up her love for Lysander (the crowd cheers for Lysander) – a turn of events that Hermia’s friend Helena would like that just fine, as she is obsessed with Demetrius. Theseus, the ruler of the city, decrees that the law requires Hermia to wed as her father chooses or face death. Thus Hermia and Lysander run off from Athens into the forests on their way to a new town where they can live happily ever after. But when Helena and Demetrius follow, and with a host of mischievous forest fairies eager to play games, the fun has just begun.

Hermia (Abbey Howe) and Lysander (J Tyler Landon) are glowing, giddy, moony-eyed lovers who can’t get enough of each other. Emily March is the unhappy Helena who rolls her eyes at Hermia’s romantic bliss while pining for her scornful Demetrius (Ben Pawlik). The foursome shine when the fairy Puck has magically made both Lysander and Demetrius fall in love with the suddenly in-demand Helena, rejecting a shocked and then angered Hermia. Helena’s initial fury at seemingly being teased by the guys melts away as she warms to the newfound attention and uses her power over the men quite skillfully to keep Hermia from tearing her apart in a hilariously performed and choreographed love/fight scene.

And then there’s the play within the play. A group of amateur actors hoping to stage a show for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, and thus going into the forest to prepare for their production of Pyramus and Thisbe. Drew Wolff leads the way as Bottom – the world’s biggest ham who is given the role of Pyramus but wants to take on every other role in the play as well. Drew demands the spotlight in all his scenes with great stage presence and humor, eventually feeding off the screams of the wedding party guests as his Pyramus repeatedly commits harakiri. The play at the wedding party is a smash hit, directed by the nervous Quince (David Doerner), with Jessica Peele as the Wall, Brad Schiffer as the Moon, and the lion Sydney Van Putten trying to scare both sides of the wedding aisles with his mighty lion’s roar (the female wedding guests screaming more each time, egging him on). Jeremy Vasquez is the guy who gets cast in the woman’s role of Thisbe, the tragic love interest of Pyramus. Jeremy gets very much into the part – kicking the lion in the privates to get away, stomping on him in anger as he/she runs away, and later trying to rouse her dead lover by straddling his chest, pinching his cheeks, and talking lovey-dovey to him before realizing with mock horror that her poor, sleepy Pyramus is dead.

And then there’s the fairy kingdom. Puck is played by a dwarf actor, Taylor Van Putten, but clearly he didn’t just get the role due to his height. Taylor has a terrific feel for the mischievous, energetic character. He’s ever playful, poking at the fairies annoyingly to get a reaction. And he shares a great relationship with his master Oberon (Sebastian Field), at one point bravely starting a little slapping match with Oberon as if he were poking a fairy, and reluctantly obeying when Oberon tells him to sit down next to him for a minor reprimand (Puck doesn’t sit close enough, so Oberon puts his arm around Puck and slides him over tight). Oberon’s counterpart is Titania, with Katie Stanley oozing regality with her voice as the fairy queen who magically falls for an ass (a.k.a. Bottom). The ensemble of fairies is a frolicsome lot with many personalities (including the crazed Emily Frisch who argues with herself in fairy talk), the group delighting in making noises and in playfully tormenting the humans who enter their forest domain, the invisible fairies touching the humans and making them nervous. Their playfulness culminates the end of each act, ending the first act as their creepy, escalating taunting gathers around poor Hermia when she wakes frightened and alone in the forest, and bringing the entire play to a close when Puck pounds his staff on the ground and makes the wedding party freeze, then laughs and shakes his head at the foolish mortals before delivering his closing monologue easing our mortal concerns about spirits and shadows and dreams.

Performs November 6 - 9, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Lysander: J Tyler Landon
Demetrius: Ben Pawlik
Hermia: Abbey Howe
Helena: Emily March
Puck: Taylor Van Putten
Oberon: Sebastian Field
Titania: Katie Stanley
Fairy #1: Emily Frisch
Theseus: Tyler Heimendinger
Hippolyta: Katie Hansen
Egeus: Debbie Bishop
Philostrate: Alex Swaisgood
Bottom: Drew Wolff
Quince: David Doerner
Flute: Jeremy Vasquez
Starveling: Brad Schiffer
Snout: Jessica Peele
Snug: Sydney Van Putten

Speaking Fairies:
Michelle Adea
Fifi Akel
Hannah Bezold
Emma Castor
Katelyn Castro
Diana Gremore
Natascha Espiritu
Jane Han
Carly Nelson
Jessica Rahman

Forest Fairies:
Emily Beaver
Anna Brown
Jordan Castro
Kristin Cooper
Katherine Fernandez
Carolyn Kornafel
Jean Natalina
Faiza Riaz
Jenessa Ross
Cheyanne Saunders
Charlene Sheehan
Lizzy Starnes
Kelsea Wasung
Nikki Wright

Amanda Bracken
Luke Castor
Jenna Clancy
Donavan Correa
Jacob Falls
Sarah Farmer
Christina Herrara
Tasmyn Parrish
Isheeta Rahman
Kellie Roddy
Lynn Wang

Director: Rollin Swan
Choreographer: Courtney Corie Armstrong
Stage Manager: Emma Davis
Assistant Director: Stephanie Diaz, Shannon Murray
Christina Lee
Robin Morin
Angie Zanolini
Laurissa Rudgers
Sierra Staten
Stage Design/Foreman: Michael Stucky


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