Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
‘Tis said that all good things must eventually come to a close. So it was Friday as Kearsley Park Players began the troupe’s final season based in the gracious Kearsley Park Pavilion. Appropriately, director Kay Kelly chose to bracket the thirteen-year run as it began, with Shakespeare’s magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a far better performance than that first one so long ago, replete with a large, talented and beautifully costumed cast.
Midsummer is a long tale containing stories within stories populated with mortals and fairies and various other sprites with magical intent. Chief among these magical minions is Puck, the shrewd and knavish fairy prankster, played with extraordinary panache and gymnastic pluck by George Marzonie. His portrayal continued to delight Friday’s audience even if it was a touch over the top now and then.
In this story of a clash between the fairy kingdom and the mortal world, and with the help of a few sprites and magical flower dust, four mortal lovers are confused and confused again as they awake and then dream their way though a summer evening.
Names can also confuse as here we have Hermia (Kristen Carter) and Helena (Shelby Coleman), long time friends but victims of both their own emotions and some mischievous fairy dust. Both play these ladies nicely, but Coleman is exceptional as first the spurned lover of Demetrius and then suddenly the choice of both gentleman to the exclusion of her friend.
At the same time, the fairy kingdom is in turmoil over the squabble between their royalty, Queen Titania (Ella J. Thorp) and King Oberon (Jason Garza). More fairy dust is employed by Oberon to retaliate against his queen by making her fall in love with a beast of the forest. Thorp and Garza are wonderfully regal in both carriage and demeanor even as they seek to teach each other a lesson.
Back in the mortal world, a royal wedding is imminent as Duke Theseus (Michael R. Poehner) and Queen Hippolyta (Jessica Eldredge) set about planning their nuptials. They are interrupted by Hermia’s father, Egeus (Michael Kelly) who wants his daughter lawfully put to death if she disobeys his marriage command. Poehner and Eldredge strut about with pomp and privilege even as they suggest a lighter banishment.
Meanwhile, a group of townsfolk have met to produce a play that will be given to fete the Duke and his bride. Led by Bottom, the Weaver (Issac Wood), and directed by Mistress Quince (Amber M. Dillard) this troupe also includes Flute, the bellows maker (Zachery Wood), Starveling (Dominique Hinde), Miss Snout (Lauren Friesen, and Snug (Bruce Green). Their rudimentary efforts brought smiles and grins.
This is a large cast augmented by a large group of fairies and fairy children. Friday night we were also treated to a troupe of belly dancers dressed in gorgeous gilded costumes that appeared with the fairy kingdom.
There’s no shortage of talent on this stage. These experienced players know how to develop characters well and in depth and they did. However, possibly due to this expertise, the show ran a long three hours Friday.
Still, we encourage you to “hie thee hence” to Kearsley Park today (Saturday) to catch this final Shakespearean performance in the stately pavilion. But, if you must miss it, you can still catch this troupe as they tour Genesee County.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues with all performances free of charge, today at the Pavilion at 8:00 pm; Sunday at 3:00 pm on the campus of the Cultural Center; June 16, 7:00 pm at For-Mar Nature Preserve; June 17, 7:00 pm at Linden County Park, Clover Beach; June 18, 7:00 pm at Flushing County Park; June 19, 3:00 pm at Max Brandon Park-Flint.