photos by Joan Marcus
By Arney Rosenblat
is no more perfect place than the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park
with its woodland backdrop and Belvedere Castle turret to set the mood for
Shakespeare's Fairyland in Midsummer Night's Dream where director Lear
deBessonet has chosen to explore with deft good humor the axiom - the course of
true love never runs smooth.
De'Adre Aziza and Bhavesh Patel
Midsummer is a busy play
integrating four love stories:
Theseus (Bhavesh Patel), Duke of Athens, who is preparing to marry Hippolyta (De'Adre
Aziza), an Amazonian queen he has met in battle;
Hermia (Shalita Grant) who is defying her father's will to marry Demetrius
(Alex Hernandez) and plans to elope with Lysander (Kyle Beltran). Her
friend Helena (Annaleigh Ashford) is pining for Demetrius who has thrown her
over for Hermia. When Hermia and Lysander head for the Athenian woods, they are
followed by Demetrius and Helena.
Oberon (Richard Poe) and Titania (Phylicia Rashad), the fairy king and queen
who are elsewhere in the woods, are quarreling over the queen's refusal to give
him her adopted son. Out of pique, Oberon dispatches his mischievous
servant Puck (Kristine Nielsen) to cast a spell on Titania and, along the way,
another pair of spells, one mistakenly on Lysander.
A group of Athenian artisans who are amateur actors, dominated by Nick Bottom
the weaver (Danny Burstein) are rehearsing a tragic love story to perform at
King Theseus' wedding
ensues. The young mismatched lovers quarrel and under the spell, Titania falls
in love with Bottom after Puck has transformed his head into that of an
ass. In the end, however, all wells that ends well and the conflicts
between the two pairs of lovers are resolved, Titania and Oberon reconcile,
Bottom is restored to his rightful self and the troop perform their play of
"very tragical mirth" about young Pyramus and his love Thisbe at the
there is a darker side underlying the story of Midsummer looking at the
pain that comes with love and its loss, the director deBessonet chooses instead
to focus on the madcap pageantry inherent in the story adding an unusual and
touching element to the production by making the assistant fairies elegant
elders Her diverse cast of chosen actors, for the most part, are incandescent
in their roles making this a must see evening.
Ashford, Alex Hernandez
the luminaries are Annaleigh Ashford as Helena who, from the moment she appears
on the stage with mascara streaks on her face from the tears she has shed over
Demetrius, takes command with her sharply etched physical performance and
unique, perfect comic timing. Alex Hernandez as Demetrius effectively
manages to establish a believable rapport with the battling female lovers while
Kyle Beltran brings just the right amount of physicality to his role
Rashad imbues regal grace to her role as Titania.
Poe and Kristine Beilsen
Nielsen as Puck in pajamas and pixie bob is more of Oberon's confederate than
his servant but she manages to bring her offbeat unorthodox charm to her role
as story commentator and fixer.
Tapper, Austen Durant, Jeff Hiller, Danny Burstein and Robert Joy
Athenian artisans’ story line, Shakespeare's satirical nod to the long list of
masterful tragedies he wrote, which in many Midsummer productions drag
the action down like an anchor, here is delivered with absolute comic grace by
all. Danny Burstein's charismatic performance as Nick Bottom is a show
stopper and leans strongly on his musical comedy chops. Jeff Hiller, the
bellow-mender Flute, who portrays Thisbe, does so with great artful
luminous performances and direction were supported and enhanced by Clint Ramos'
striking costumes, David Rockwell's ingenious scenic design, Justin Levine's
outstanding New Orleans-style musical score, Chase Brock's choreography and
fairy singer Marcelle Davies-Lashley, which helped to engage the audience and
send everyone home on a high note.
Broadway, Comedy, Shakespeare Play
Theater, Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West
2 hours and 45 minutes
Date August 13,2017