Seattle Shakespeare Ends Season with Silliness and Style!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the classic Shakespearean comedy, is successfully put to music and song, done in the style of 1930’s tunes – with tap and tango and The Three Stooges. Having old film references throughout adds to the fun. This offering ends the excellent indoor season of the Seattle Shakespeare Company on a high note (pun intended!). Running May 3-21, you should get tickets. This offering is staged in The Cornish Playhouse. For added attractions with the play see the enrichment opportunities offered by the Company here, always a bonus!

This play has grand style and silliness galore with singin’ and dancin’ by a very competent cast under the inspired direction of the Company’s Artistic Director George Mount. Setting the traditional tradesmen in this work on the backstage of a musical theater with the characters all part of that scene (Bottom as a swashbuckling plumber with a plunger most notably), Mounts’ reassignment and update of the original Shakespeare work is wonderful! Mounts says this is a play he has wanted to revisit and expand on since he did it 20 years ago for Wooden O in the late 90’s. I am glad he did. You will be, too

The tradesman of the cast, center MJ Siebert as the plumber (Bottom). Photo Chris Bennion.

As always, the play’s mischievous magic in the midsummer night causes several star-crossed lover plots and dream sequences that produce angst on the stage and great deal of giggling in the audience. While the first act runs a little long, the second act sizzles – and, the play within the play in that act is hysterical! Miscues, funny props and great acting make it so.

Great bits, colloquial expressions added into the iambic pentameter (spoken in all ranges of New York accents) and tumbling stunts make it a night of good laughs. The finale with glow in the dark hula hoops, a grand staircase, and a chorus line sums up the evening. The live band on stage is an added bonus. The vaudevillian timing and touches work well and some great soft shoe (Donald O’Conner type dance sequences – the staircase one with Puck, in particular) punctuate the play. All together – it makes for a night of delightful and successfully revisioned Shakespeare.

Costumes by Doris Black are creative, wonderful and add to the laughs – a hoop skirt takes on a life of its own providing a sequence of funny scenes by actress Shanna Allman (Flute). Sweet angel wings are turned into striper fans for a dance number a cleaver part of the fun. Choreographer Crystal Dawn Munkers and assistant Tap Choreographer John David Scott have done a great job! The opening synchronized dance number is reminiscent of film shots of the era.

Mallory Cooney King as Hernia and Casey Raiha as Lysander. Photo by Chris Bennion.

The actors are all great! Special mention to MJ Sieber as Bottom – his range of voice and antics are incredible and incredibly humorous. John David Scott plays a very flexible and fluid Puck – his movement and dance greatly entertain and amaze. Keiko Green as Helena is perfectly overdramatic – her belabored exclamations and idiosyncratic movements are well done. Casey Raiha playing Lysander adds a great voice and style to his role. Starveling, Steven Davis, uses his measuring tape to great effect and milks a laugh using the word “moonlight” over and over! As Snug – Marco Voli roars us into laughter. Done in deadpan, the scene about a wall has some political overtones, and is just downright comical – acted by Bob Downing as Snout.

One must remember this is a play put to music and not really musical theater…so it lacks the true punch of a great score and some of the production values of a full-out Broadway type piece. I am hoping the enunciation improves with the run. And, some of the voices were a bit wobbly at times – this, too, I trust will improve.

Seattle Shakespeare Company moves it work to the outdoors for the summer with its Wooden O series July 6th to August 6th presenting Shakespeare in the Park. This year at a park near you: Pericles and Much Ado About Nothing will be presented…you are invited to bring a picnic, the kids and your dog on a lease and have some free Shakespearian summer fun!

This was a very good season for this theater and George Mount says of next year’s plays: “…I am more excited about the collection of works Seattle Shakespeare Company will be presenting in our 2017-2018 season…than any other I’ve had the fortune to program. I took inspiration from a Bob Dylan quote, “power and greed and corruptible seed'” as the jumping off point. Check it out and subscribe!

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