Sophie Friedman of W. T. Woodson HS
In a world where bump-its, tanning beds, and stilettos reign, few people would expect anything more than a trashy show of superficial relationships. But, add a little magic, music, and Shakespeare, and the show becomes a sensational jest of pop culture and examines the test of true love.
Robinson Secondary School premiered Ken Ludwig’s "Midsummer/Jersey," a show where the classic Shakespearean comedy "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" collides with the hit MTV show "Jersey Shore" earlier this month. Although the script itself is unique, what makes this show special is the fact that this was the first time it has ever been performed on stage. Students reveled in the unique opportunity, and attacked the project with energy and finesse.
Led by passionate lovers bound by the constraints of society, the cast uproariously illuminated a tale of the complications of love in a plastic life. Lyle (Ethan Malamud), a conflicted lover, is a man of mostly brawn but with moments of unexpected sensitivity and ingenuity. Malamud’s impeccable comic timing and engaging facial expressions brilliantly developed the character’s outgoing presence, but also his subtleties. Paired with Cookie (Gabby Rojtman), the fierce couple dominated the stage with their passionate relationship. Plus, Rojtman rocked the insane stilettos, impressively maintaining her attitude as a character while dashing about the stage in the impossible footwear.
On contrasting ends of the spectrum, a strong cast of fairies and salon stylists pushed the plot to whole new levels of hilarity and intensity. Oberon (Dan Barr), King of the fairies, provided a much-needed contrast to a cast dominated by outgoing characters with his subtle, yet powerful, multi-layered attitude. He effectively conveyed a character with more puissance than meets the eye, yet clearly showed he could take charge of any situation. Oberon’s right hand man, Puck (Adam Bradley), is the complete opposite, spastically throwing himself about the stage with courageous physicality. Nikki Bottom (Carys Meyer) also practiced great physicality, and through her perfect timing and outgoing presence successfully played the role of the stylist and ham extraordinaire. She and her fellow stylists effectively drew in the audience with their convincing familial relationship. In particular, Robert Sudds (Jamie Green) stood out with his flamboyantly delightful character, while Janet Snug (Brandy Skaddan) was completely opposite the other mechanicals with her adorably timid disposition.
To add to the engaging atmosphere of the show, an impressive set cleverly integrated the fairy headquarters with a seaside boardwalk to bridge the gap between man and magic. The set itself was visually appealing, but also lent itself to dynamic blocking, especially during the fight scene. Cleverly detailed signs integrated Shakespearean references with popular culture symbols, which played off the concept of integrating Shakespeare with modern times. The magical aspect of the show was emphasized with perfectly timed sound and light changes, most of which occurred at the same instance. Musical effects played by Oberon’s fairies also added a clever touch to the piece. Plus, suitable costumes effectively separated the different hierarchies within the show. The detailed fairy wings were stunning, and were a key detail in conveying the fairies as magical beings.
Although a few actors lacked energy, overall the show was an explosive combination of brassy personalities and bold hilarity. Also, most of the actors successfully maintained the Jersey accent, which helpfully conveyed the setting of the show.
All together, the cast and crew courageously tackled the project to develop a clever, entertaining, and engaging world premiere of "Ken Ludwig's Midsummer/Jersey."