Homecoming weekend at Oklahoma Baptist University always means a spectacular theater production and this year's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is truly a “spectacle” of magic and romantic mayhem.
Homecoming weekend at Oklahoma Baptist University always means a spectacular theater production and this year’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is truly a “spectacle” of magic and romantic mayhem.
One of Shakespeare’s early and, dare we say it, most “puckish” works is a mélange of love triangles, or quadrangles, or just tangles that illustrate his themes: “The course of true love never did run smooth,” or “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
Director Matthew Carron and the OBU players run cheerfully amok as young lovers, unwitting elders and a motley crew of aspiring actors fall under the spells of fairies and creatures of the night forest. The visual and auditory effects are extraordinary, and the comic physicality of the staging make this a delightful night in the forest.
Bayleigh Platter plays Hermia (“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”) with a dewy-eyed confidence in true love and, later, a pitiable confusion as her true love seems to reject her.
Anna Tyler is Helena, who is willing to show her comically slavish devotion until the man she has chased to distraction and his sometime-rival both turn and fall in love with her. Her sprightly indignation at all the attention is confusing to them, hilarious to us.
The objects of the ladies’ affections are played by Noble Adams-Nabors as Demetrius, and Gage Bullard as Lysander. Their masculine strutting and bravado, then eventual smittenness, are counterpoint to the damsels’ distress.
Creating this confusion – and much more – are Oberon, a devilish fairy king, played by Arthur Schwab, and Puck, masterfully played by McKenzie Reece portraying both light and dark meanings of “imp.” They are aided in their conniving in the mist by Moss, Adam S. McCollough, and Vines, Zachary Hill.
Meghan Haynes is the fairy queen Titania, and her otherworldly cohorts are Alexandra Frank as Peaseblossom, Erin Loyd as Cobweb, Rachel Campbell as Moth, Anna Smolen as Mustardseed, and Emma Greathouse as Mushroom.
Many of these mysterious creatures provide unexpected visual delights in aerial silks acrobatic ballets.
Many memorable moments come from the band of misbegotten actors: Lillias McManus as Peter Quince show runner, Cara Burnet as the goofy Snug, Kendra Johnson affecting an overbite as Robin Starveling, and Samuel Hawkins as Tom Snout who comes alive while playing the wall.
Grant McGee plays the bombastic Nick Bottom whose transformation into a donkey is comedy key to the plot. Garrett Wheeler plays his foil, Francis Flute, with Laurel-esque plasticity.
Other key components to the revelry are the imposing Chase Hendrickson as Theseus, Larashleigh Wallace as Hippolyta, Caleb Frank as Egeus, and Kimberlie McCutcheon as the longsuffering Philostrate.
The production boasts sumptuous costumes of furs, velvets, and brocades, along with the fantastical webs, beads and flora of the fairies.
Scenic designer Scott Roberts has created a beautiful hillside of rock and garden, moonglow and sunrise, mist and magic.
Technicians bringing about all the amazing effects include Alyssa Couturier, Jake Yenish, Chase Hendrickson, Emily Coley, Adam S. McCollough, Jesse Couturier-Herndon, Maritza Jaimes, Taylor Benjamin, Kelsi Guleserian, Kendra Johnson, Lillias McManus, Emily Kustka, and Court Haygarth.
Other production assistants are Emily Ramos, Mackenzie Camp, Amy Nevius, Ashley Hontz, Angel Goodrich, Katelyn Onkst, Autumn Morris, Brianna Lincoln and Joshua Brunet.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, and Nov. 8-10, and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 4 and 11, in Craig-Dorland Theater in Shawnee Hall.
Tickets may be purchased online at okbu.edu/theatre, or at the box office in Sarkeys Telecommunication Center, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone 405.585.4350
Advance purchase or reservations are recommended.