“Midsummer Night’s Dream” set in jazz-era New Orleans at Shakespeare & Co.

A Midsummer Night's Dream. L-R: Annie Considine, Johnny Lee Davenport and Kelly Galvin.  Photo by Kevin Sprague.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. L-R: Annie Considine, Johnny Lee Davenport and Kelly Galvin. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Opens the Packer Playhouse June 21 – August 30

“Treasure the words, but update the setting,” that’s how you keep theatre-lovers coming back for  Shakespeare. And in Lenox they know all the ways you can make these classic plays fresh and relevant.

Shakespeare & Company’s Artistic Director Tony Simotes has chosen to set his new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the mysterious bayous of New Orleans just as the Jazz Era in America was exploding. The production features original music, live musicians, a Drama League partnership, and a cast of over a dozen seasoned company actors and newcomers. Performances run in the Tina Packer Playhouse from June 21 – August 30th.

“On a certain night many years ago in New Orleans I sat at Café Du Monde with a gentle delta breeze moving the Spanish moss and wisteria,” says Simotes.  “I remember thinking that here is where magic was born in America. Sound, rhythm, and passion – and in my theatrical heart, I thought this would be a perfect setting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ”

A fairy kingdom is at odds, and the devilish sprite Puck weaves his mischief amongst the mortals and mangroves of a 1930’s New Orleans in this bewitching and unforgettable treatment of Shakespeare’s classic, bawdy comedy. With a sharp eye and savvy hand, Simotes delivers an action-packed, and fun-filled evening of theatre for the young and the young at heart as we follow four young lovers who are caught in the realm between our world and the world of dreams. At its heart, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a complex tale about the nature of love, marriage, and the power of imagination. Bottom and his merry band of ‘rude mechanicals’ get lost in the mysterious woods where inhibitions are shed, identities interchanged, and desire trumps reason. Over 420 years later, this magical and transformative play remains a metaphor for human life and folly.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains a special play for Shakespeare & Company,” adds Simotes. “It was magical back in 1978 as we spoke our first lines of Shakespeare’s text in the open air underneath a brilliant starlit sky and today, as we sit in the Playhouse and reimagine our inaugural production, it is just as compelling, revealing, funny, moving, and enchanting as it ever was. It’s been such a joy to work with this talented group of actors, designers and crew on our production as we once again harness and capture the energy, inspiration, and magic that created a legacy of work for Shakespeare & Company that has lasted almost four decades.” Simotes, who is also an S&Co. Founder, performed the role of Puck in the Company’s first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream back in 1978. This current production marks his third time directing the play.

TICKETS AND DISCOUNTS

For Tickets and information about the 2014 Performance Season visit: www.shakespeare.org or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or in person at 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA. Ticket prices range from $15 to $80, with discounts from 10-50% off regular ticket prices for Groups, Students, Seniors, Teachers and the Military. Our very popular 40% Off Berkshire County Residents’ Discount will again be available. Both the Playhouse and Bernstein theatres are wheelchair accessible and hearing-aid assisted.

Composer, musician, and musical director Alexander Sovronsky, who also performs in the play, will create the music and sound design for the production with inspiration taken from the great era of New Orleans jazz of the 1930’s. Sovronsky has a long list of Regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway composing credits. He has been collaborating on and creating musical interpretations and scores for S&Co. for many years. His work includes productions from As You Like It in 2011,The Beauty Queen of Leenane last season, to this year’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Shakespeare’s Will and Henry IV, Parts I & II. “I knew Alex would be perfect for melding the actor/musician roles of this play in to a workable score for the play based on our previous collaborations,” continues Simotes. “The Jazz era was bold, brash and rebellious – perfect for our Company and its creative artists. In fact, the entire design team has reimagined this classic tale to reflect the passion, elegance, mystery and magic of an America that’s not that long ago.”

The cast features several newcomers and many long time Company actors, some of whom will also appear in Henry IV, Parts I & II including, Johnny Lee Davenport (Bottom/Pyramus and Glendower in Henry IV), Jonathan Epstein (Peter Quince and King Henry in Henry IV), Kelly Galvin (Hermia/Fairy), Malcolm Ingram (Starveling/Moonshine and Falstaff in Henry IV), David Joseph (Lysander/Fairy), Robert Lohbauer (Snout/Wall and Justice in Henry IV), Annette Miller (Snug/Lion/Egeus), Michael F. Toomey (Puck and Peto in Henry IV), Merritt Janson (Titania/Hippolyta), Atalanta Siegel (Fairy), Rocco Sisto (Oberon/Theseus), Alexander Sovronsky (Flute/Thisbe and Westmorland in Henry IV), and newcomers Cloteal L. Horne (Helena/Fairy), Colby Lewis (Demetrius/Fairy), and Briana Maia (1st Fairy).

The production is supported by assistant director Emma Weinstein, who is part of The Drama League Fellowship mentoring program – a partnership concerned with opportunities for directors of color in classical theatre developed three years ago by the New York Drama League under the direction of Roger Danforth. Shakespeare & Company has participated with the Drama League and its Directing Fellowship Program for the past several years.  

“We are the only theatre in America offering this kind of fellowship – we are proud to engage and support the growth of the artistic lives of these individuals, and we support the program and these social issues whole-heartedly,” said Simotes. Shakespeare & Company offers two different fellowships this season: The Classical Directing Program and The Education and Teaching Director Program. The Classical Directing Fellow will assist Simotes on Dream, attending all rehearsals during the 5-week rehearsal period and production meetings associated with the show. The Education and Teaching Fellow will assist on Henry IV, and both will be involved in the Company’s annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare (a 10-week residency program at ten high schools reaching nearly 500 students throughout western Massachusetts and New York), participating in classes and training sessions run by Shakespeare & Company’s renowned Education Program before being partnered with an experienced director at a high school and leading students through a language-based exploration of a Shakespeare play

AT A GLANCE

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
JUNE 21- AUGUST 30
Tina Packer Playhouse

Director: Tony Simotes
Assistant Director: Emma Weinstein
Set Designer: Travis George
Lighting Designer: Matthew Adelson
Composer/Sound Designer/Music Director: Alexander Sovronsky
Costume Designer: Deborah A. Brothers
Costume Design Assistant: Mary Readinger
Dramaturg: Alissa Mesibov
Movement / Choreographer: Barbara Allen
Fight Choreographer:Tony Simotes
Fight Assistant:Claire Warden
Fight Captain:Colby Lewis
Stage Managers: Diane Healy* & Hope Rose Kelly*
Assistant Stage Managers: Maegan Passafume & Kathleen Soltan

2 thoughts on ““Midsummer Night’s Dream” set in jazz-era New Orleans at Shakespeare & Co.

  1. Pingback: 7 Ways to See Johnny Lee Davenport in June 2014 | Johnny Lee Davenport

  2. Pingback: 7 Ways to See Johnny Lee Davenport in August 2014 | Johnny Lee Davenport

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