February 20, 2010 9:03:00 PM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
One of William Shakespeare''s most whimsical and popular works, "A Midsummer Night''s Dream," will come to life Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the creative hands of the Mississippi University for Women Department of Music and Theatre.
Performances will begin at 7:30 nightly in the Cromwell Center, located on campus at the corner of 10th Street and Sixth Avenue South in Columbus.
"The students have really been wanting to do Shakespeare for ages," said director Brook Hanemann. "But the casts are usually large and require a lot of men. We posted auditions and were amazed at the number and quality of people who turned out. They sold it to us by coming out in droves and being brilliant."
Shakespeare''s play, believed to have been written around 1596, involves three interlocking plots surrounding four Athenian lovers and a troupe of amateur actors. Include fairies, magic elixier, enchantments and love gone awry, and the formula for entertainment is complete.
"Be prepared for a creative, playful take on the play," Hanemann said. "It''s going to be fun."
Department head William "Peppy" Biddy has acted as coach and trainer, and overseen some staging and choreography.
"It''s not every day that MUW Theatre would attempt to tackle Shakespeare," Biddy said. "In a small program such as ours we must match our production selections with the current talent pool. This semester the faculty agreed that the time was right."
The first day of rehearsal was a poignant one. Catherine Muse, one of four MUW students who perished in a mid-January motel fire in Hoover, Ala., had been cast as a fairy, a role she was looking forward to.
"Our first gathering was right after we found out about the fire," said Hanemann. "Some of the students didn''t even know about it. It was very emotional."
After talking about the tragedy, students were offered the option of postponing the start of rehearsal, but decided to proceed in honor of their lost classmate.
"The cast really came together, to honor Catherine through their work. ... There''s been nothing but cooperation, communication, creativity and hard work," the director praised. "There''s been an outpouring of creative process that is really kind of humbling."
Oberon, the king of the fairies, will be portrayed by MUW senior Kyle Bellinger.
"He''s jealous and manipulative ... I wouldn''t suggest crossing me," the Ocean Springs native said, with wry humor. "But, there''s a little bit of a sweet spot, too."
In addition to his role on stage, the theatre major is also part of the lighting design team and composed original music for the play, as well.
All the cast were invited to come up with different concepts in sets, costumes and make up, as well as sounds and lighting.
"The creative involvement of the students make this show special, from design to music, the movement, lights, everything; they''ve had their hands in it and have a stake in it more than traditionally done in a university setting."
Tickets for the production are $5 in advance, available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays at the cafeteria located in the Hogarth Center on campus. Tickets at the door will be $10. Admission for all students is $5.
For more information, contact the show''s box office at 662-241-6134.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.