A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Written by William Shakespeare; Directed by Kelly Van Oosbree and Jeffrey Parker; Choreographed by Kely Van Oosbree. produced by the Platte Valley Players (presented at the Armory Performing Arts Center, 300 Strong Street, Brighton) through May 11. Tickets available at plattevalleyplayers.org. 

Out of the cast of twenty players, eleven are making their debut at Platte Valley Players with this production. I mention this only because it says something that so many local actors are becoming anxious to work at (or return to) PVP and the opportunity to be creative with Kelly Van Oosbree. I can’t remember that I’ve ever seen Kelly ON a stage but what she can do with a CAST OF PEOPLE on a stage is not to be missed. To drive that far to rehearse and perform says something about the draw of KVO and Mr. Shakespeare. 

Speaking of Mr. Shakespeare, I am confident that he is standing backstage at his celestial Globe smiling down at his friends in Brighton and laughing at their antics. This interpretation of MIDSUMMER includes rock ‘n’ roll, sultry blues music, a rousing rendition of “I Would Walk 500 Miles,” bubbles and assorted variations of wackiness – in addition to the familiar humor built into the script from the beginning. 

The cast is more than up to the task and have, no doubt, contributed little bits to the fun as rehearsals progressed. While MOST of the dialogue is Shakespeare’s, it is performed in a modern style that aided in understanding. The ten-year-old sitting next to me was giggling at all the appropriate places. First timers and purists both will approve of this treatment of the sacred script. 

So much rests on the shoulders of the feuding lovers of the story. This quartet of players – Aspen McCart as Hermia and Dallas Slankard as Helena are paired with Sam Werkema as Lysander and Tyler Strickland as Demetrius – trade places and tempers with abandon. Starting as warring lovers before falling under the power of Puck, they end up in a tumbled pile of sleeping children. With a lot happening in-between. 

The other group that is so crucial to the humor of the show is the Mechanicals – tradespeople who want to gain prestige and pennies by entertaining Theseus (Daniel Mothershed) and his bride Hippolyta (Jennifer Grahnquist). Their choice of plays is a “tragical comedy” called Pyramus and Thisbe, a storyline originally fashioned by Ovid in 8 BC, then stolen by Shakespeare and centuries later, turned into THE FANTASTICKS by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. The Mechanicals and their parts within the play-within-the-play are Greer Caldwell as Wall, Kris Graves as Lion, Rick Long as Moonshine, Chase Ralston as a reluctant Thisbe and Charlie Schmidt as the over-acting Pyramus, all directed by Adam Luhrs as the “director.” They each bring a unique look and style to the parts in the play, as well as retaining the innocence of tradespeople unschooled in the ways of the theatre. Their enthusiasm is laugh inducing; their performance brings belly laughs. 

As always, the mischievous Puck is behind all the confusion and chaos. Denver’s own magical imp brings her special charm to the role. Rachel Graham is athletic, conspiratorial, subservient yet independent, and squeezes all the humor from Shakespeare’s words and then finds additional laughs with her body language and eye-rolling facial expressions. 

Special kudos must go to Terri Fong-Schmidt for the beautiful costumes which include rich robes for the royalty, innocence personified by the white garb of the lovers and comical costume depictions of the characters in the Mechanicals turn on stage. I’m not sure who to give credit to for the brilliant choice of music to accompany the madness – Ryan Michener, the Sound Designer or Kelly, the director – but every bit of it elicited laughs from the audience as recognition set in.  

PVP is making its mark on Denver theatre. Don’t be the last one to find this out for yourself. This show has a very short run, but tickets are still available for next weekend. 

A WOW factor of 9!! 

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