LCT Continuing “Stage Insights”

This season, LCT continues its program "Stage Insights". In place of our usual reviewing process, Stage Insights provides more in-depth, personal reviews from a select number of our contributors dedicated to each of the theatres they are reviewing. In addition, they will be providing exciting Sneak Peaks of upcoming productions. Look for our Sneak Peaks on the front page of our website and our weekly reviews on the Review Page.

Cincy Shakespeare’s “Dracula” is Eerie and Lush

Review by Liz Eichler of “Dracula”: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Miranda McGee and Giles Davies in “Dracula”

If you’ve never been to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, “Dracula” is a great opportunity to enjoy a  very accessible show and explore a beautiful space. This amazing professional company finally has a larger, more audience friendly space in the Otto M. Budig Theatre on Elm Street. The season is one of the most varied, with something for everyone. “Dracula,” playing now through November 4, and is perfect for the season and new audiences: it is delightfully spooky, a little bit scary, lush, and beautifully done.

There are surprises, be warned. Director Brian Isaac Phillips (Producing Artistic Director) includes all the traditional props (blood, fangs, garlands of garlic) but gleefully adds a few elements sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Dracula himself, Giles Davis, is mesmerizing, as he floats across the stage in an other-worldly physicality.

The character Renfield (Billy Chace) frames the play in this Steven Dietz adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. The action is set in 1897 London, and we meet best friends Lucy (Miranda McGee) and Mina (Caitlin McWethy), as they share stories of their suitors. Mina’s fiancé, Jonathan Harker (Crystian Wiltshire), is traveling to Transylvania to conduct business with an unknown wealthy Count (Dracula) who is planning to move to London. One of Lucy’s suitors is Dr. Seward (Kyle Brumley), who runs the lunatic asylum nearby.  One of his patients, the agitated Renfield, calls for “his master” to come. Meanwhile, Lucy falls ill with a mysterious illness draining her of blood. Seward asks his mentor, Dr. Van Helsing (Jim Hopkins) to advise on the case.

A few standout performances: Hopkins owns the space as Van Helsing, 110% committed to his beliefs; Chace keeps the audience guessing if he is truly sane or insane; McWethy and McGee delightfully illustrate and expand the boundaries of Victorian morals; and Maggie Lou Rader does the most in her maid cameo.

Costumes (Amanda McGee) and Scenery (Shannon Moore) are lush and rich, perfectly setting the tone. Sound and Video Design (Doug Borntrager) flesh out the story, adding the eerie musical soundtrack, to appropriate gulls, and misty video ambience, also complimented by Justen N. Locke’s Lighting Design.

If you’ve never been to CSC, develop a taste for great theatre with “Dracula,” My non-theatre going companions were entranced and called it “nicely spooky.” For tickets go to www.cincyshakes.com

Fanning the Flames of Know Theatre’s “The Arsonists”

Review by Alan Jozwiak of The Arsonists: Know Theatre

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tigers, like in the lines from the William Blake poem, look like they are burning from a distance.  They are also part of the imagery within Know Theatre’s latest production, The Arsonists, by Jacqueline Goldfinger.  This play is part of the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere, a program which encourages multiple productions of new works by various theatres situated across the United States.

            In the play, the tiger becomes a symbol for “the best controlled burn,” something that the titular father-daughter arsonist team desperately wants to have.  We meet the father, identified by the single letter H (Jim Stark), and the daughter, identified by the single letter M (Erin Ward), after an arson job goes wrong—with bad consequences for H. The play is conceived as a quest piece for M to finally let go of her father through some mythic overtones which harkens back to Egyptian mythology and the story of Osiris, who needed to find a missing body part in order to make his way into the afterlife.

Within this mythological framework is a microcosm of M’s relationship with her father.  We see both the warts and the wonder, from their arguments to their harmonizing on gospel and country songs.  Much of the credit for making The Arsonists work should go to director Tamara Winters.  Winters is able to work all these elements together into a compelling evening of theater.

Erin Ward as M does a great job with her role.  It was also delightful to witness Erin Ward’s ability to be totally authentic and in the moment throughout this play.  Ward does an outstanding job walking in this emotional terrain.  She turns from being carefree and joking with her father, to being petulant towards him, to despairing about surviving the loss of her father.  Ward is a particularly strong singer, which makes these gospel and country songs delightful.

Cincinnati theater newcomer Jim Stark does an equally beautiful job as H, the spectral father wanting to bond with his daughter, while also trying to let her go.  This is a play of routines of the familiar and Stark does a great job showcasing the care of his daughter while both of them are preparing wicks for future arson jobs.  These little actions reveal the care that Stark’s character has in connecting with his daughter as he is discussing everyday things with her.  They are some of the more beautiful moments of the play.

Scenic Designer and Producing Artistic Director Andrew J. Hungerford created a sparse, but effective in the form of a raised cabin. By having the cabin floor sit a foot or so above the stage, it allows for some surprises to come out of the floor boards.  The wood was also unvarnished, echoing the fact that raw wood can be more easily lit.  It short, it was a nicely done set that contributed to the overall impact of the play.

While H and M might still try to chase down that tiger to get that best controlled burn, you do not need to do so.  The Arsonists runs this weekend and next weekend, ending on October 14th.  This is another fine production that Know which should satisfy its audience members.

For ticket information, contact Know Theatre through their website: http://www.knowtheatre.com.

Falcon’s Production is Not Your Father’s “Frankenstein”

Review by Laurel Humes of Frankenstein: Falcon Theatre

The opening moments of Falcon Theatre’s Frankenstein are a gift to the audience by actor Olaf Eide and lighting designer Jared Doren.

Eide’s Creature, newly created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, is trying to stand and walk, lit as in a pantomime. We can relate – we’ve seen fawns and baby giraffes making the same moves soon after birth. Eide’s athletic agility makes the Creature’s attempts to move as a human fascinating, almost like a dance.

What is missing – no mother or father to help the fledgling. And that is the tragedy of Frankenstein, by Nick Dear, adapted for the stage from the 1818 Mary Shelley novel.

The themes in this Frankenstein are more frightening than any monster.

The stage play is told from the Creature’s point of view, rather than the creator’s. Dr. Frankenstein, appalled by his creation, abandons him to the streets of a German city. The Creature’s appearance in Falcon’s production – primarily scars running through his face and torso – frightens everyone he encounters.

Until the Creature meets a blind man (Donald Volpenhein), who shelters him and teaches him to speak, read and write.

But there is no long-term safety there and, in the first of a continuing series of revenge events, the Creature destroys the blind man and his family.

Where is the blame? Who taught the Creature wrath and revenge? What responsibility does any creator have?

“I created you because I could,” says Dr. Frankenstein (Luke Ashley Carter), who takes no responsibility for nurturing his creation.

“What have I brought into this world?” asks the father of Dr. Frankenstein (Kelly Hale), who does not understand the son who is so cold and heartless to those who love him.

Falcon’s production of Frankenstein is a play of ideas, rather than horror. The show should be welcomed by theatergoers (like me) who have not read the novel or play script and only know the now-campy caricature of the Boris Karloff monster and Halloween masks.

Eide is outstanding as the Creature. He has created a distinctive voice, way of moving and mannerisms that make the character fascinating to watch. We see the Creature evolve, learn to read and think. We suffer with him when he tells his creator “You make sport with my life.”

Carter’s Dr. Frankenstein is driven by ego and science. It is difficult to believe that he has a fiancé, much less the beautiful and sympathetic Elizabeth (Victoria Hawley), who loves him despite getting nothing in return.

The presence of Elizabeth, though, leads the Creature to demand that Dr. Frankenstein create for him a bride. The Creature has surpassed his creator, because he can feel love.

Frankenstein moves through a lot of locales, from city streets to forests to the Arctic Circle. Ingeniously, director Paul Morris and projection designer Kevin Kunz have created back-wall screen images to firmly place the characters in their surroundings.

Frankenstein continues at Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, through Oct. 14. Go to www.falcontheatre.net for ticket information.

CCM’s “Hamlet” Unites the Epic with the Familiar

Review by Alan Jozwiak of Hamlet: CCM Acting

“Tne union of the epic with the familiar.”

These words comes from Susan Felder’s Director’s Notes from the CCM Acting Main Stage production Hamlet. They aptly describe the overall tone of her production.

Felder beautifully sets her production of Hamlet during the Roaring Twenties in Denmark at a time when the fun and frivolity masks the horror witnesses during the First World War.  The epic scope of Hamlet (revenge and dynastic succession, etc.) is set against some very familiar concerns that all people have with parental conflicts and lost love.

In my LCT reviews, I sometimes have not given enough credit to the director of shows, largely because it is hard to distinguish between an actor’s talent and a director’s hand at polishing that talent so that it shines brighter. This will not be the case for this review.

Hamlet is a show in which you can obviously see the hand of the director skillfully guiding her actors into choices that lead to strong performances and a memorable production.  Felder wisely does not dodge around the language of the play, but makes the language the centerpiece.  Action is guided by what is being said with the result that the play that has layers while still being faithful to the script.  Shakespeare in the hands of young actors can be problematic, but Felder is able to get her actors to act with the words instead of side-stepping them.

For those of you who skipped out of English Lit class, the basic plot of Hamlet is as follows: Prince Hamlet (Rupert Spraul) comes back for his studies at Wittenberg for the funeral of his father, Hamlet Sr., the king of Denmark, and has to deal with the fact that his father’s successor Claudius (Landon Hawkins) has not only taken over his father’s throne, but has also married Hamlet’s mother Gertrude (Ella Eggold).  The play gets underway when Hamlet meets up with the Ghost of Hamlet Sr. (Carter Lacava) who tells his son that Claudius was his murderer and that Hamlet should seek revenge by killing Claudius.

For a play of this scope, a strong Hamlet is a necessity.  Felder chose one of the strongest actors in the CCM Acting program—Rupert Spraul.  Spraul plays Hamlet in a way that straddles the world of a boy-man who still has one foot in Wittenberg University where he was studying while having his other foot in the Danish court and its responsibilities.  Spraul knows how to joke with his comrades from Wittenberg, as well as being a smart aleck when dealing with pompous courtiers like Polonius (Isaac Hickox-Young).

Spraul was able to capture Hamlet’s “antic disposition” (i.e., his “feigned” madness—the feigned part being in question) in a wonderful goofy way that hinted at the underlying problems Hamlet is facing by being in both worlds.  Within the seven soliloquies Hamlet speaks are places where Sprawl is wonderfully able to explore the madness Hamlet faces at being put into an impossible situation.

Matched against the wild protestations of Hamlet is the smooth talking Claudius, played skillfully by Landon Hawkins.  Melding political flattery with daunting ambition, Hawkins is able to match Hamlet’s craziness with his own deftly politic behavior.  A beautiful example of this comes when Claudius has to confront Laertes (Nicholas Heffelfinger), who points a gun at Claudius demanding revenge for the death of his father Polonius.  Hawkins smoothes Heffelfinger’s ruffled feathers with dulcet words and a demeanor of a natural politician.  This could have been a blow-away scene, but becomes a master class in the art of delicate negotiations with a skilled actor who understands the subtext of the situation.

One of the delights of this production is the way that, when pressed by serious circumstances, the rest of the cast also adopts an antic disposition which echoes Hamlet’s own madness.  One such example comes with closet scene with Hamlet and Queen Gertrude. Queen Gertrude (Ella Eggold), who has played her role rather reservedly during the first part of the play, echoes Hamlet’s madness during this scene by being just as agitated as Hamlet while Hamlet explains to her the problems of her marrying Claudius.  Eggold does a first rate job at breaking down her reserved demeanor to discussing this situation.

This production also paid close attention to even the small roles.  Felder was deftly able to create an interesting story arc for Rosenscrantz (Josh Reiter) and Guildenstern (Matt Fox) through costuming and props.  The pair initially enter the play wearing their college wear; however, over the course of the play, we see them becoming increasingly corrupted by Claudius’ court, eventually dressing like courtiers, drinking Scotch (or Bourbon) and smoking cigars, the same spirits and smokes that Claudius favors.

As for set and lighting design, Scenic Designer Logan Greenwell created a sparse set that seems too big for the actors, a deliberate choice to emphasize the vast scale for the events which unfold. Greenwell also effectively used draperies at the end of the first half of Hamlet, when the hanging drapes suddenly fell down after the play within the play to highlight the start of the destruction of the Danish court that happens after intermission.

Similarly, Lighting Designer Oliver Tidwell Littleton does an outstanding job with the first appearance of Hamlet Sr.’s Ghost.  The Ghost initially appears entirely as lighting on the stage floor, effectively showing the otherworldly nature of the spirit which brings terrible news to Hamlet.

In closing, I was delighted by the work that director Susan Felder did to take her talented cast and produce work that was both moving and faithful to the source material.  This was one of the first outings for Felder as a director and I am personally looking forward to her next directorial outing.  She is on the list of theater people not to miss anything she does on stage.

This production was only on during the weekend of  September 27 to October 1, 2017—a downside to having strong college production which is only a few performances long.

However, CCM has literally hundreds of other performances and productions of both theatrical and musical work.  To learn more about CCM and CCM Acting, visit their website at http://CCM.uc.edu.

 

Incline Raises the Bar with “Cabaret”

Review by Laurel Humes of Cabaret: Incline Theatre

‘Come to this Cabaret, my friend.’ A fantastic production at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater through Oct. 15.

Incline has staged a near-perfect production of the acclaimed musical, first seen on Broadway a hard-to-believe 50 years ago and revived there at least three times, most recently in 2014. But no matter how many times and what versions you’ve seen of Cabaret, this one is not to be missed.

We are in capable hands from the moment Matthew Wilson appears as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club in 1931 Berlin, smoothly singing “Willkommen” and promising us a chance to forget our troubles and be entertained. We meet the Kit Kat Girls and Boys, all good-looking and sexy, and not necessarily in girl-boy pairs.

When Sally Bowles, the star of the Kit Kat and Cabaret, does her first number, “Don’t Tell Mama” – well, this show is going to be a hit. Hannah Gregory is incredibly accomplished as a singer, dancer and actress.

But then, so is every member of the 14-person cast, half in multiple roles. What an absolute pleasure.

Berlin in 1931, at least at the Kit Kat Club, is a free and easy, anything goes society. Our hero is the American Cliff (Rory Sheridan), who has come to Berlin to write his novel. He quickly makes Sally’s acquaintance, and their unorthodox love story begins.

The show’s second love story is between an older couple. Fraulein Schneider (Helen Anneliesa Raymond-Goers) is landlord of the rooming house where fruit merchant Herr Shultz (Jeff Richardson) lives. This is a well-matched stage pairing of two skillful actors with beautiful voices; a highlight is their duet “Married.”

So Act I is mostly fun, love, good times, sex. To my view, co-directors Angela Kahle and Tim Perrino have taken the middle road on the Cabaret raunchy meter, which has veered up and down over the years, depending on the production. The double entendre lines are all there, but not shouted. The Emcee is flamboyant, but not dirty. The choreography is risqué, but not embarrassing.

Then the fun ends, and we see what’s coming. A Nazi in our midst is revealed. We know – before the characters do – what will happen to the Jewish fruit merchant and the gay performers at the Kit Kat Club. There is a stunning visual conclusion to the show.

A centerpiece of Incline’s Cabaret is the 7-piece, terrific and lively band that actually sits center stage, surrounded by well-used stairs and a catwalk. The bandstand is part of scenic designer Brett Bowling’s inventive set, which includes rolled-on pieces to depict the rooming house and a dressing room.

Costume designer Caren Brady has again outdone herself with lovely costumes. Not a quibble, just an observation – the Kit Kat Club is hardly tawdry and Sally Bowles cannot be poor with such great clothes!

I urge you to see Incline’s superb staging of Cabaret.

Cabaret continues through Oct. 15 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, in the Incline District of East Price Hill. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

 

CCM’s “Hamlet” is Strong and New

Review by Shawn Maus of Hamlet: CCM Acting

Any staging of Hamlet has an enormous responsibility: engagement with Shakespeare’s text, clarity or confusion about place, and character. Director Susan Felder has beautifully made everything fall into place with the College-Conservatory of Music’s production of Hamlet.

Hamlet has always been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I have read it many times since my college days, and each time I experience something new.  But I have to say Felder’s Hamlet drove the experience right to the heart.

This is the kind of evening of which legends are made, one of those rare theatre nights that those who were present are never likely to forget. Certainly the performance of “Hamlet” I witnessed on Thursday night at the College-Conservatory of Music will remain in my mind and heart forever.

Rupert Sprahl is Hamlet. I read that Hamlet was an unfinished character and that the missing piece is found in the soul of the actor playing him.  Sprahl has put his heart and soul into the Danish prince.

Spraul has a gift for suggesting Hamlet’s essential decency. He doesn’t play the Dane as melancholic, but is moved by a strong new reading of the material.  He has all the drive and innocence of adolescence and the unbearable pain of a studious, fun, free-thinking college student who returns home to find that his family has imploded and nothing makes sense any more.

Spraul’s Hamlet fences with the best, throws Ophelia to the floor during his ”Get thee to a nunnery!” speech, and wrestles his mother during the closet scene. Spraul is able to disappear into the play and the character, with his bold, silvery voice, statuesque physique, blond locks, and the kind of handsomeness that will have adolescent girls swooning in the aisles. He presents the most raw and vulnerable Hamlet I have ever seen. Even his soliloquies are fresh, unique and insightful.

But Spraul doesn’t do it alone. Each cast member distinguishes themselves throughout the production. They demonstrate a command of the text and the ability to convey its poetry and meaning, breathing life into their scenes with deep affection.

Gabriella Divincenzo, as Horatio, makes a striking impression.  As Hamlet’s best friend, Divincenzo gives a new depth and perspective to Horatio.  As a female Horatio, Divincenzo makes a tremendous impact on the Hamlet/Horatio friendship.  Her performance brings some of the most emotional and memorable moments of the relationship.

Nicholas Heffelfinger’s Laeartes shows a real passion for family and as a protective brother.  His affection for Ophelia is palpable and his sword fighting is a swashbuckling.  The duel, efficiently choreographed by Gina Mechley, was breathtaking and convincing.  It was designed to get as much significance, beauty and action from the actor’s moving bodies.

Kenzie Clark’s Ophelia is nuanced, bringing an emotional complexity to the character that commands attention; with a vivid performance that makes sense of what is normally missed in understanding why Ophelia goes mad.

Felder’s daring 1920’s modern dress production works superbly.  Set in the decade following the First World War, scenic designer Logan Greenwell has made homage to Olivier’s 1948 film production of Hamlet using a flattened, somber set with hints of twisting, maze-like corridors.

The set is a monumental castle design that is successful because it directs the eye towards the performer, yet is in observance with the modernism of everything else. The lighting design by Oliver Tidwell Littleton is a huge gift in directing one’s attention to the actors and the plot.  It’s like a Caravaggio painting.

Costumer Designer Ashely Berg brings an unexpected freshness, vibrant and sexy feel to the 20’s era without looking like gangsters and their gun molls.

CCM has made this old, and perhaps over familiar, play suddenly strong, wonderfully fresh, urgent and young again.

Incline’s “Cabaret” is Raucous and Sexy

Review by Doug Iden of Cabaret: Incline Theatre

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! to the opening scene of the opening musical for the 2017-2018 season at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. Based upon Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, Cabaret shows us the tawdry, unsettled world of early 1930’s Berlin while the characters deal with the rise of Nazi Germany.

If your only exposure to Cabaret is the movie, you will notice a major difference between the play and the film. The movie was a star vehicle for Liza Minnelli with a prime concentration on the character of Sally Bowles while the play is more of an ensemble piece telling the stories of people living in a dilapidated rooming house. Because of the shift in emphasis to Sally Bowles in the film, composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb wrote some new songs and eliminated other tunes written originally for the ensemble characters or used them as instrumentals only. Two new movie songs include the jazzy “Mein Herr” and the gut-wrenching torch song “Maybe This Time”. This production is an amalgam of the two versions including the previously mentioned songs plus reinstating some of the tunes from the original production. Consequently, there is a lot of music in this version, some of which you may not have heard before.

The action alternates between the rooming house and the sleazy nightclub called the Kit Kat Klub. The play opens with the Emcee (Matthew Wilson) and the Kit Kat boys and girls singing “Willkommen”, a raucous, sexy number that sets the tone for the show. The Emcee is an amoral, asexual degenerate who represents the moral disintegration of German society. Wilson is marvelously obsequious as the nightclub host and is one of the highlights of the show. The gender-bending ensemble (Kate Stark, Samantha Cobb, Maddie Vaughn, Allison Evans, Michael Wright, Jameson Ward, Ben Goodman and Sam Johnson) cavort in raunchy fashion to the Bob Fosse-esque choreography of director/choreographer Angela Kahle in songs including “Don’t Tell Mama”, “Mein Herr” “Money” and the finale. The floorshow numbers act as commentaries on situations in the show.

Sally Bowles (Hannah Gregory), a hedonistic, transplanted Brit, is the featured singer at the Kit Kat Klub and becomes the primary focus of the play. Gregory is excellent as the flighty, naïve, shallow singer who cannot see beyond her ambition of singing in the club. Gregory belted her raunchy songs, poignantly mesmerized with “Maybe This Time”, but sounded a little scratchy on the title song “Cabaret”.

The other principal character is Cliff Bradshaw (Rory Sheridan) a failed American writer who is in Berlin to finally finish his book. He meets Sally at the nightclub and she moves in with him when she loses her singing job. Sheridan effectively plays Bradshaw as rootless and only marginally less amoral than the other characters. For a while, it appears that his infatuation with Sally may help save both of them.

In the rooming house, we meet Fraulein Schneider (Helen Raymond-Goers) who owns the building and is barely eking out a living. She bemoans her frustration with life in “So What?” but things may change when Herr Schultz (Jeff Richardson) proposes. Raymond-Goers treads a fine line as a “normal” German pragmatically trying to cope with a difficult life while avoiding the oncoming Nazi horror. She and Shultz sing two delightful duets with “It Couldn’t Please Me More” and “Married”. However, another tenant (Ernst Ludwig played by Justin Glaser) discovers that Schultz is Jewish and, as a Nazi convert, causes dissention in the rooming house. Glaser and the company sing a chilling rendition of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” at the close of the first act. The play turns darker in the second act.

Music Director Michael Kennedy leads an unusually large on-stage band which complements the singers well without drowning them out. They play an excellent, jazzy version of “Cabaret” at the Entr’acte and during the finale. The set (designed by Brett Bowling) is very interesting because it depicts the decadent, shabby Kit Kat Klub with paint dripping on the steps and a faded wall. The dancers parade on the “stage” and cavort on various stairways. The apartment displays peeled concrete around the ill-painted doors and shoddy furniture.

The costuming by Caren Brady at times complements the shabby look of the set but, at times, shows the supposedly impecunious characters with exquisite clothing. Cliff, in particular, complains about money all the time but seems to be dressed to the nines. Sally has tattered stockings in one scene and then seems to be a model for Vogue in another. The gorilla costume, though, is very funny.

Denny Reed’s lighting is also very interesting. At times, he uses side lights to project the dancers onto the walls of the theater which seems to increase the number of actors but also adds to the eeriness of the scene.

Caution: this play has adult themes and uses a lot of sexual movements, gender bending and innuendos.

I liked the production and recommend it highly. As the song says, go to the Cabaret, running through October 15 at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. For ticket information, call 513-241-6550. Their next production is Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.

NKU’s “Midsummer” Will Put a Spell On You

Review by Spenser Smith of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: NKU Theatre

To say the plot of Midsummer is convoluted would be an understatement. We follow (or don’t) simultaneous action throughout, yet the brisk-paced production now on stage at Northern Kentucky University is sure to delight.

The action begins with a wedding. What else? It’s Shakespeare. Theseus (Brandon Critchfield) and Hippolyta (Shalie Hull) are due to marry but one wedding just wouldn’t do. Egeus (Emily Borst) is a local nobleman and states his intent that his daughter Hermia (Leiren Jackson) will marry Demetrius (Caleb Farley) but Hermia has her eyes set on Lysander (Elliot Handkins). No matter the proclamation, Hermia and Lysander plan to escape and marry the following night. Everything ends happily ever after, right? End of scene. Well, at least the first one.

Hermia and Lysander go to tell Helena (Sarah Hack) of their plan to flee but Helena is still in love with Lysander, who left her to be with Hermia. Awkwarrrrrd. Helena tells Demetrius that Lysander is after his girl and now we’ve got a mess. Still with me?

As one does in times of trouble, the soon-to-be spell-crossed lovers escape to the forest where we meet the travelling troupe of performers employed to entertain Theseus’ wedding party. Nick Bottom (James Hummeldorf) is the star of the troupe and gives a performance straight out of “Waiting for Guffman”. He spends much of the play with (let’s call it) limited visibility, so kudos to him. Each member of the troupe has their own quirk. It becomes particularly entertaining during their performance for the wedding party at the end of the play. George Ivan has a hysterical turn as Flute.

Also in the forest is the mischievous troupe of fairies led by King Oberon (Kaleb King), Queen Titania (Sydney Kline) and our narrator Puck (Kearston Hawkins-Johnson). I really enjoyed the interaction of the fairies. They are ever-moving and always connected. Fluid is the word that came to my mind. They are also employed to give us a sense of flight and the creative idea works well.

Director Brian Robertson does a great job keeping the pace fast enough to keep our attention yet moderate enough that we can understand what’s going on. Aside from a lengthy fairy speech, pace and volume are great despite those heavy curtains. Director Robertson also serves as the Fight Director for the show and it is very evident time was spent rehearsing the shows very well-executed fight sequences. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a really great stage slap! The suggestive curtains and pillars by Costume/Scenic Designer Ronnie Chamberlain that are rearranged to change setting are just enough, yet give us plenty of space for the large cast to play. Original music composed and played by Alena Firlie and George Ivan is another treat this show has to offer.

Midsummer continues at the Corbett Theatre on the campus of Northern Kentucky University through October 8.

For tickets, call 859-572-5464 or visit NKU.edu/sotatickets