Ken Ludwig, author of Lend Me a Tenor, has done it again with a madcap farce about the filming of the 1930’s version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. What happens when the real Puck and Oberon show up on the movie set and begin making mischief with the likes of Jimmy Cagney, Louella Parsons, and the Warner Brothers? Come to the Maine premiere of this award winning new play to find out just how crazy things can get.
GOOD THEATER TAKES THE BARD TO HOLLYWOOD
Portland Press Herald, March 3, 2007
by April Boyle
In 1934 Austrian-born director Max Reinhart convinced Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures to film and distribute the fist silver-screen version of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”
The cast included Hollywood notables James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown and Dick Powell. What would have happened if the play’s famous fairies, Oberon and Puck, had magically appeared on the movie set?
Mischief, mayhem and laughter abound as the Good Theater tackles this farcical notion in Ken Ludwig’s devilishly funny play “Shakespeare in Hollywood.”
Janet Montgomery and Good Theater co-founder Stephen Underwood have cleverly designed a nostalgic set that captures the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood. Its monochromatic look beautifully simulates the view of the world through the lens of an old-fashioned movie camera.
All the characters are also dressed in black, white and gray, with the exception of Oberon and Puck. The fairies are brightly attired to accent the contrast between Hollywood and the fairy world.
Director Brian P. Allen has assembled a cast that gives added spunk and magic to the play. Underwood is a delight as Oberon, king of the fairies. He easily charms the audience with smoothly delivered prose, droll facial expressions and perfect comic timing. Jess Leighton is Oberon’s henchman, Puck. The University of Southern Maine theater minor delivers an impish performance that heightens the pair’s mischievous quality.
The Tinseltown cast keeps the magic flowing. Leighton’s father, Steven, gives a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek performance as Max Reinhart, Kathleen Kimball is a riot as Lydia Lansing an airhead chorus girl willing to do anything to get ahead. Bob McCormack steps into the shoes of Hollywood movie mogul Jack Warner, who’s foolishly lovesick over Lansing. And, William Sandstead is Daryl, Warner’s “yes” man.
The fun just keeps coming with Jen Means taking on the role of actress Olivia Darnell. She delivers a strong performance with just the right comic touch. Amy Roche also stands out as gossip columnist Louella Parsons. Mark Rubin garners plenty of laughs as Will Hays, head of the Hays commission. And, Craig Ela, Keith D. Anctil and Brian Chamerlain grab their share of laughs as actors James Cagney, Joe E. Brown and Dick Powell.
“Shakespeare in Hollywood” is a play that combines the fanciful comic mayhems of a Shakespearean comedy with the behind-the-scenes mayhem of life in Hollywood. Ultimate chaos ensues when Oberon sends Puck for a magical flower that induces love at first sight.
The play is teeming with absurd situations, mismatched love affairs and one-liners that keep the laughter coming. There’s never a dull moment in this fun-filled piece.
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Oberon - Stephen Underwood
Jack Warner - Bob McCormack
Will Hays - Mark Rubin
Olivia Darnell - Jen Means
Lydia Lansing - Kathleen Kimball
Jimmy Cagney - Craig Ela
Puck - Jesse Leighton
Max Reinhardt - Steve Leighton
Daryl - Will Sandstead
Louella Parsons - Amy Roche
Joe E. Brown - Keith Anctil
Dick Powell - Brian Chamberlain
Set Design - Janet Montgomery & Stephen Underwood
Lighting Design - Jamie Grant
Costumes - Nina Jones & Joan McMahon
Sound Design - Stephen Underwood
Technical Director - Stephen Underwood
Assistant Technical Director - Craig Robinson
Set Construction Crew – Wilson, Donna Graves, Sandra Moore
* Member Actors' Equity Association