Director Sarah Zapiain has put together a really, really cool production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Voices Found Repertory. Nestled into the cozy, little Imagination Studios space in West Allis, Zapiain has fostered a remarkably open environment for the cast of the show to develop some really, really fun portrayals of a whole bunch of characters that don’t always shine in every production of the comedy. In the space of a Shepherd-Express print review, there’s only so much room to get into things and there is much in the cast that I simply didn’t have room for in 300 words. Here’s a look at some of what I didn’t have the space for:
Brandon Haut is a towering presence as both Oberon and Theseus. Beard not withstanding, there’s no questioning that the guy is young...but he has such a clever grace about him that he DOES seem suitably royal.
Amber Weissert really loses herself in the energy of love in the role of Titania. When she falls for the donkey-headed Bottom, she goes full-blown obsessed rock star groupie on him which works a LOT more than one might expect.
Haley Ebinal is something like a force of nature as Hermia...playing her as the popular girl who everyone loves. She’s playing a beautifully assertive personality with so much self-confidence that when she gracefully takes her earrings out before a fight, she bestows them like mana from heaven on someone in the front row...it’s a really, really fun take on the character’s energy.
Grace DeWolff is intoxicating as the lover Lysander...but she also plays the rarely-prominent fighter in him. Phillip Steenbekkers towers over her as his rival Demetrius, but DeWolff’s Lysander fearlessly stands-up to him in deeply comic form.
Maya Danks is remarkably attractive as Helena. A woman so completely taken with someone like Demetrius is...well...it’s usually difficult to bring that across with any strength, but Danks portrays Helena’s love for Demetrius with an intoxicating adoration. Danks plays Helena looking to Demetrius almost like he’s a pet...which gives her a sense of agency that makes the character that much more appealing.
Kyle Conner may not be my favorite Puck this summer, but he IS really, really good in the role. The scene where Puck is taking-out the lovers at the end of the comedy and bringing them to sleep plays-out with a delightfully crazy Chuck Jones energy. This is Puck-by-way-of Wile E. Coyote and it’s a really fun addition.
It’s really, really difficult to make the Mechanicals work in ANY production. The pacing of the script always feels a little awkward by the time Pyramus and Thisbe show-up. With Ben Yela as Bottom/Pyramus and Jessica Trznadel as Flute/Thisbe, there’s a smart energy about the play at the end of the play...amplified as it is by kazoo. Hannah Kubiak, (who plays Peter Quince and Mustardseed provides tight, little comic punctuations throughout the play,) wittily kazoos My Heart Will Go On at a particularly tragic moment for Pyramus. It’s a fun ending to a fun evening that’s only 90 minutes long.
Voices Found Repertory’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through Sep. 12 at Imagination Studios on 1500 S. 73rd St. For more information, visit www.voicesfoundrep.com. A concise, comprehensive review of the show will be available shortly through Shepherd-Express.