Beacon Summer Knights show this year is Shakespeare's romantic comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream". It was suggested by "A Knight's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" and was written around 1594 to 1596. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors. Moonlight, magic and midsummer madness infect the lovers, tradesmen and fairies in this tale. It takes place in and around the Duke's palace and the moonlit forest in Athens. The plot revolves around Theseus, the Duke of Athens impending marriage to a feisty Hippolyta, an Amazon warrior. It also concerns the lovers, Hermia loves Lysander, but is promised to Demetrius by her mother. She refuses to marry him, Egeus complains to Theseus who orders Hermia to obey her mother's wishes or die. Hermia and Lysander run off together to the woods. They are pursued by her friend Helena and Demetrius, whom she loves and to whom she has told about the lovers' escape plan. The four of them are lost in the woods and set upon by mischievous fairies led by young prankster Puck who wreaks havoc with the people caught there. It is orchestrated by Oberon, the King with mayhem resulting. Oberon is distracted by problems with his own lover, Titania the queen and plays a major practical joke on her. Add in the hilarious country bumpkins practicing a tragic comedy for the Duke's nuptials and you have the ingredients for the laugh a minute show that ensues. Director Jason Robert LeClair takes his 24 students from ages 12 to 20 on a whirlwind trip of one of the Bard's best known shows and gives them some comic routines including pratfalls to keep you laughing. It will help you escape from your current day problems into the magical world of the past. He sets the show in Athens Weaving Mill, New England, 1860 complete with a working water wheel. The gorgeous costumes are by Marilyn Salvatore with lighting design by Chris Cournoyer, make-up and set design by Jason, music composed by Emily Draninville, choreography by Dawn Souza and stage management by Christina Folcarelli.
The biggest scene stealer in this show is Raymond Fournier as Bottom, the weaver. His over the top delivery is splendid and needed to capture the comic essence Shakespeare planned for this show. Raymond's vocal prowess, facial expressions and physical comedy are topnotch. His farcical antics excel even when he has donkey mask on his face. Raymond and his fellow trades-people are a hoot in the closing scene of the show where the lovers comically kill themselves like in "Romeo and Juliet" but with more humorous results. Raymond's death scene is a showstopper where he tries to kill himself. His fellow comedians include Rachel Beauregard as Quince, the director of this show, Jerald Kaplan as Snug, the lion, Matthew Newton as Flute, the bellows-mender who is dressed in drag as Thisby Joanna Felix as Snout, the wall and Mackenzie Eastman as Starveling, the moonlight. This play scene has to be seen to be enjoyed because it is hilarious. Matthew is a hoot in this role with his high pitched voice and his dying sequence when he falls on top of Raymond who is already dead. This scene obtained the most laughter in the show.
The young lovers are excellently portrayed; Derek Kunz as Demetrius, oversexed and overbearing, Aurora Lefebvre as Helena, unrequited love, George Levoie as Lysander, confused and endearing and Ariana Pacheco as Hermia, full of righteous indignation.They play these young lovers and they shine in their scenes especially while running through the woods. Their physical humor is terrific including pratfalls, fighting with each, pulling of hair, rolling around on the stage. The boys lovesick faces are hysterical and Ariana's funniest moment comes when she knees George after he calls her a dwarf. The rest of the cast do wonderful work, too. Jen Campo plays Egeus, Hermia's strict mother who demands she marry Demetrius of be put to death and when she slaps Lysander, it is a stunning moment in the show. Michael Martins is terrific playing two roles of Theseus and Oberon. He commands the stage as Theseus, the duke. He really shows his acting depth in the huge role of Oberon. Francesca Hansen-DiBello shines as Titania, Queen of the fairies, playing her scenes with a light comic touch especially in the falling in love with a donkey scene. I last reviewed her as Mrs. Potts in "Beauty and the Beast". Gabriela Gonsalves plays the Amazon warrior, Hippolyta beautifully. Another scene stealer is Alexandra Medeiros as Puck, the mischief maker who throws fairy dust at the lovers to make them fall in love with each other. She does wonderful work with her crazy antics. Alexandra moves around the stage like a whirling dervish. Rounding out the cast is Nicole Cayer as Philostrate, the feisty maid and Emily Drainville, Maddie Fournier and Jasmine Washington as the musicians. Emily is a senior in high school and composed the music for this show including a lovely lullaby that puts Titania to sleep sung by the fairy servants. Emily Partington, Tiffany Venmahavong, Jenny Cayer, and Kanisha and Tiahna Grover. So for an enchanting evening of a comic Shakespearean romp be sure to catch "A Midsummer Night's Dream".