A Midsummers Night Dream
OrlandoShakes at Lake Eola
by Carl F. Gauze
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jim Helsinger
Starring Greg Pragel, Tim Williams, and Melanie Whipple
Summer will soon be upon us, and the fairy in the wood become real and mess around with the odd mere mortals. A wedding looms, a heart may be broken, and the local community theater group is eager to perform to a real audience. Duke Theseus (Williams) and Queen of the amazons Hippolyta (Whipple) are the responsible adults here, and they pick up the tab. Tagging along we find Hermia (Trennel Mooring) in love with Lysander (Christopher Creane) but her dad Egeus (E. Mani Cadet) hosts other plans. Naturally, some supernatural plotting fairies are out to have fun, and like most Shakespeare comedies the complications seem a bit forced yet remain entertaining. This show opened a few days ago as a late Florida cold front invaded, and I held out for weekend daytime tickets.
This show has excellent audio and all the lines come over loud and clear. I’ve been to a few Lake Eola events and they always suffered from audio issues. True, a firetruck and ambulance came up Orange Avenue to tend to a fallen patron of a competing festival patron. The bandshell looked great with multiple stairs and ruined Greek columns to emote from. William’s Duke was calm and in charge, allowing the fairies and sprites to bounce off his steadfast demeanor. The best comedy went to the amateur actors led by Anne Herring whose plans for “the show within a show” is to edit down her script until the cast can remember the words. Her sidekick Phillip Nolan is an excellent foil, always prepared with a quip or prop gag. Out int the enchanted woods Philip Nolan as Nick Bottom does odd jobs and gets most of the assignments correct. Other noteworthy performance came from Egeus (E. Mani Cadet) as the cranky old man set upon a marriage for money and none of this lovey-dovey stuff. Spoilsport.
Is it this the right show to return to normally? I think it is. It’s popular, light weight, and genuinely funny even to a modern cyber audience. There’s a backlog of dark and experimental music that’s itching to get out, but marriage and sprites and shape shifting menials says, if noting else, the good times will be back soon.
This show runs 100 minutes with no intermission and be prepared for direct sun or frigid northern artic blasts. The concession are on you but no wine, that might upset the Mayor. But this production is a safe family friendly show, long on great acting and a wonderful setting. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a blanket!