by Brandi Nuse-Villegas
The Dinuba High School Drama Department invites you to take a “hilarious romp through Hollywood” with Shakespeare in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Thursday, March 31 through Sunday, April 3 at the DHS Hellbaum Auditorium, 340 E. Kern St., Dinuba. Shows are 7:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 3. Tickets are $7 general admission and $5 for students.
A Midnight Summer’s Night Dream is known as one of Shakespeare’s zanier plays, full of envelope-pushing humor, mistaken identity, love triangle driven hi jinx, and fairy instigated mischief. The DHS cast, and their director, Teresa Hylton, are taking it a step farther with a unique Godfather-meets-Burlesque musical Tinseltown spin on this version.
“The music is updated,” said Hylton, who added that the characters, costumes, and set are bright, outlandish, and reflective of familiar silver screen gems. “It feels more contemporary.”
This production simplifies Shakespeare, making it easier to understand and follow the crazy plots. Hylton explained that they made some modifications to the script, recognizing that the language of pure Shakespeare can be difficult to understand. “The language [in our version] is made a little more contemporary. There is also a Director at the beginning, who tells what takes place in layman terms, to make sure people understand what’s happening in the story.” The play involves four story lines that humorously converge in the woods, which the cast reinterpret as “Hollywood.”
One storyline follows Lysander and Hermia, a couple who run away to Hollywood after her father, the Godfather, forbids their marriage. Upon their heels is Hermia’s favored suitor, Demetrius, who pursues her into the ‘Woods’, followed, against his protests, by lovelorn Helena. The love story becomes even more convoluted when mischievous sprites intervene.
“We are making it very Hollywood. The fairies are on the Burlesque side, with dance numbers. The guys do things from ‘Step Up.'”
The students themselves have been instrumental is making the play uniquely theirs. Original choreography for the numerous dance numbers is in the hands of Junior Natasha Archuleta. DHS Alum Tidee Gill and Senior Alexa Hernandez, an aspiring fashion designer, are creating the over-the-top costumes. Hylton added that the DHS welding shop chipped in with the multi-tiered sets.
Among the highlights of the production is an unexpected return of DHS Drama Department Alum Grant Gillen, who is reprising his role of “Bottom,” from the school’s 2004 production of the play. Gillen stepped in when a student fell ill and had to drop out of the play, Hylton said. Like the production itself, she said that Gillen’s performance is bigger and better than before.
“He came in and already knew most of the lines, even though it had been seven years. He made it even funnier.” Hylton added that his presence also gives the students something in which to aspire to. “Here is an opportunity for the rest of the cast to learn how to do it.”
Not that the students don’t already have something of their own to contribute. Hylton added that their “Puck,” played by Artie Quezada, is a bit of an acrobat. “He’s a jumper and a climber. He does a lot of stunts, so he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.”
The cast won’t be waiting for the curtains to go up to draw the audience into their Hollywood experience. A red carpet will await arriving guests, who will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with cast members in front of the Hollywood marquee before the productions starts.
For more information, contact the Dinuba Drama Department at 595-8154.