A magical evening of theater, updated

Comedy: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company performs `A Midsummer Night's Dream' with a 20th-century twist.

June 03, 2005|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,SUN STAFF

The Roaring Twenties rise from the ruins of Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park tonight in a modern performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The comedy tells a story about love and magic in Athens, Greece, with an American twist and bit of 1920s setting, selected by director Ian Gallanar.

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company hosts its third Shakespeare in the Ruins at the site of the stabilized ruins in Ellicott City's historic district.

The open-air, black thrust stage is shadowed by treetops, large pillars and a granite Greek Revival facade of the picturesque ruins of the former 19th-century school for girls, a site for concerts, plays and weddings throughout the year.

Gallanar uses the ruins to full advantage in creating a Shakespeare performance. The stage bears some characteristics of the famous Globe Theatre in England, a venue where Shakespearean plays were performed.

Gallanar said the Patapsco Female Institute ruins creates similar challenges and a mood ideal for re-enacting a Shakespeare play.

The Globe Theatre was a meeting place, with vendors, rowdy patrons, weather distractions and the constant struggle to keep the attention of the audience.

Gallanar has similar adversities, minus the rowdy audience, he said.

"Just by being outside and in that tight little area, we have to find ways to focus energy to the play and what is happening on the stage," he said.

Gallanar believes the famous comedy will keep the audiences of all ages entertained.

"I call this a `kitchen sitcom comedy,'" Gallanar said. "[Shakespere] threw in everything but the kitchen sink in this play."

Gallanar throws in a utensil of his own - placing a 1920s setting to the original Shakespeare play believed to be written in the 1590s.

"Changing the time of the play opens it up, and to me, it connects the audience to the show," Gallanar said.

The cast, some decked out in flapper dresses, bowler hats, argyle vests accompanied by pencil-thin mustaches and famous hairstyles of the 1920s, illustrate the era. Gallanar also adds some Roaring Twenties music with such tunes as "You're the Top," by Cole Porter.

The play features a story about the magical tricks by the character Puck, which leads to a series of characters falling in love in a series of dreams.

A performance of Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, a 15-minute series of comical snippets from various Shakespeare plays, precedes the opening curtain.

A Midsummer Night's Dream will be performed by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, starting today through June 26 at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 5 p.m. Sundays at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarahs Lane, Ellicott City.

The gates open 90 minutes before the show for live music, juggling performances, meeting actors and, on Sundays, face painting.

Tickets: 866-811-4111 or www. ChesapeakeShakespeare. com. For announcements of cancellations because of rain: 410-752-3994.

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