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GLT’s production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is magically delicious

Somewhere around 1595/96 in Merrie Olde, Shakespeare held the first staging of his comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream to much acclaim. Over the centuries its popularity has never waned. Great Lakes Theater has taken this mildly (by today’s standards) comedic work and turned it into something that is laugh-out-loud hilarious. While remaining true to the rhythm of Early Modern English in which the play was written some modern touches have been added in the form of dress, cell phones and canned beer.

Hermia (Michelle Pauker) is in loved with Lysander (Corey Mach*) even though her father, Egeus (Aled Davies*) is forcing her to marry Demetrius (Jon Loya*) who is in turn sought after by Helena (Keri René Fuller*) who is Hermia’s best friend. Egeus brings the matter before Duke Theseus (Nick Steen*) who is soon to be wed to the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta (Jillian Kates*).The Duke offers an alternative to execution in the form of having Hermia become a nun.

In the meantime a band of amateur actors have gathered to prepare a tragic work , "the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe" that they plan to perform at the Duke’s wedding reception. The troupe’s leader, Peter Quince (Tom Ford*) begins casting the play giving the lead role of Pyramus to Nick Bottom (David Anthony Smith*) whose dream is to play all the principle roles in the play simultaneously. Quince talks him out of it stating his portrayal of the lion would frighten the audience so much the entire company would be hanged.

As this is going on, Oberon king of the fairies and his queen Titania arrive in the forest outside Athens. Titania plans to attend the Duke’s wedding but is at odds with Oberon for refusing to turn over her Indian changeling for his use as a henchman. In retaliation, Oberon calls upon Robin Goodfellow (M.A.Taylor*) or “Puck” to concoct a potion that when applied to the eyes of a sleeping person has them fall in love with the first living thing they see when awaken. The plan is to administer the potion to Titania making her fall in love with an animal of the forest thus shaming her into giving up the changeling to Oberon.

As this goes on, Hermia and Lysander escape to the same forest. Helena tells Demetrius where they as he follows in hopes of killing Lysander. Helena throws herself onto Demetrius who rebuffs her. Seeing this scene unfold, Oberon instructs Puck to administer the potion to Demetrius so that he falls in love with Helena. Having not seen either man before, Puck mistakenly gives Lysander the potion who when awaken by Helena falls in love with her.

Seeing the error, Oberon charms Demetrius with the potion who when awaken also sees Helena thus she suddenly has two suitors whom she feels are mocking her.

Quince and his band of amateur actors are rehearsing in the same forest when Bottom is spotted by Puck who being offended by the man’s bombastic demeanor transforms his head into that of a donkey. His fellow actors run in terror as Titania (herself bewitched with the potion) arrives and falls in love with the transformed Bottom.

Of special note are Nick Steen* in the dual roles of Duke Theseus and Oberon along with Jillian Kates* as Hippolyta and Titania (all with very complex costume changes and speech patterns), M.A. Taylor as Puck who combines drama and comedy for the complex role, David Anthony Smith who steals the show with his portrayal of Nick Bottom while not overplaying the donkey and the four star crossed lovers Michelle Pauker, Keri René Fuller, Corey Mach* and Jon Loya*.

*Members of Actors Equity Association

Bring the entire family to see this marvelous performance.

Great Lakes Theater is skilled beyond measure at making Shakespeare palpable for the masses, especially when portraying a comedy. In spite of the language difference it is easily understood by all and being a farcical comedy will be beloved by all. This band of thespians goes for the laughs with great success. The slapstick play within a play “Pyramus and Thisbe” will have you laughing until you hurt.

The Great Lakes Theater Production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be on stage in the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square through November 5, 2017 as it alternates with the Great Lakes theater companion production of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone by calling (216) 241-6000 or by stopping by the Playhouse Square Box Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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