No one at Wabash can remember the last time the College’s Theater Department staged William Shakespeare’s timeless comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so director Michael Abbott decided it was time to dust off the enduring play and showcase a young ensemble cast framed by a handful of veterans.
Wabash performs A Midsummer Night’s Dream October 4-7 at 8:00 p.m. in Ball Theater of the Fine Arts Center.
“It just felt like it was time to do this play,” Abbott said. “There has been a changeover in our students; we’ve graduated a lot of very talented actors, and we wanted to introduce our new actors in a classic romantic comedy.”
The play follows four young lovers who flee the city for an enchanted forest and quickly find themselves entangled in a feud between the King and Queen of the Fairies.
“It’s a perfect construction,” Abbott said. “It’s basically three plays in one. If you like lovers, romance, intrigue, and mistaken identity, it’s got that. Then there is the fairy court, so if you like magic and spells, the play has that. And then it has the Mechanicals, who provide slapstick comedy in a play-within-the-play.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written in 1595, but is still a mainstay at all levels of theater. “The language is beautiful and the characters are genuinely funny,” Abbott said. It also speaks to people who know what it’s like to be in a relationship, to get older, and who question what love means.
Veterans Zachary Anderson, Jared Cottingham, Quinn Cavin, Will Maloney, Brea Carlson, and Julia Phipps anchor a cast that includes seven Wabash freshmen and three high school students.
Maloney, who plays Bottom in the hilarious gang of six actors known as the Mechanicals, said the play-within-a-play has been a challenge. “As an actor, I play Bottom, and as Bottom, I play Pyramus, so it’s important that I portray what Bottom thinks Pyramus is like. There are layers to unpack for yourself as an actor, then you have to repack and re-present the characters in a coherent way.”
When everyone heads for the forest and to Fairyland, beautifully designed by Bridgett Dreher and lit by Aaron Bowersox, mayhem ensues. Anderson’s Oberon makes liberal use of a love potion, which leads to burning passion and unrequited love.
The costumes, designed by Andrea Bear, are again over-the-top fantastic, especially those donned by Carlson and the fairies. The fairies (Isabella de Assis-Wilson, Chris Diaz, Jake Junkins, and Patrick Carper) dance hypnotically to choreography designed by Kathleen Hickey.
The play twists and turns, identities are mistaken, and love is found and lost again in a delightful comedy suited for audiences of all ages.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wabash College
Starring Selena VanBaber as Hermia, Austin Ridley as Lysander, Betsy Swift as Helena, Quinn Cavin as Demetrius, Brea Carslon as Titania, Zachary Anderson as Oberon, Dei'Marlon Scisney as Puck, Jared Cottingham as Theseus, Julia Phipps as Hippolyta, Brian Gregory as Egeus, Daniel Cuevas as Quince, Will Maloney as Puck, Noah Janssen as Flute, Nicholas Rodewald as Snug, Michael Lesch as Snout, Taylor Starks as Starveling, Isabella de Assis-Wilson as Peaseblossom, Chris Diaz Cobweb, Jake Junkins as Moth, and Patrick Carper as Mustardseed.
Directed by Michael Abbott; scene design by Bridgette Dreher; costume designs by Andrea Bear; lighting design by Aaron Bowersox; choreography by Kathleen Hickey; sound design by Tim Melville; and prop design by Austin Yeomans. The production stage manager is Brandon Johnson with assistance from Ian Little.
A Midsummer Night's Podcast
This week’s edition of the “Wabash On My Mind” podcast talks to “A Midsummer Night's Dream” director Michael Abbott and the Mechanicals, cast members Daniel Cuevas '21, Noah Janssen '20, Michael Lesch '21, Will Maloney '19, Nicholas Rodewald '21, and Taylor Starks '21. The group discusses a number of topics, including the lasting impact and comedy of this play, theater at Wabash, and what the audition process is like for a first-time cast member. Just click the red play button in the linkbelow to enjoy a vocal preview.