The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 19, 2013

DHS to present updated comedy ‘Midsummer Jersey’

BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — For their fall production, the Danville High School Players will give a comical, updated twist to one of William Shakespeare’s plays through their hilarious rendition of “Midsummer Jersey.”

Performances will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 in the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at DHS.

Written by three-time Tony Award nominee Ken Ludwig, this comedy is a high-octane blend of the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” set on the boardwalk of a seaside town in present-day New Jersey.

The story revolves around the impending marriage of the governor of New Jersey, the love affairs of four beach-bound high school crushes, a lively crew of fairies and the staff of the local beauty salon.

The night takes a magical turn when the fairy king Oberon and the impish sprite Puck arrive on the scene, armed with a powerful love potion and a desire for mischief making. With several weddings and the acting careers of six beauticians hanging in the balance, the lovers take to the boardwalk — backed up by pop music and an iPhone-obsessed wood sprite.

Cast members include Demi Richter as Mia Dicarlo, Drake Hancock as Lyle, Kendred Tillotson as Denis, Shelby Dale as Helene, Courtney Crisp as Puck, Promise Aziaka as Oberon, Sara Todd as Tatania and Cody Shadley as Nicky Bottom.

Other cast members are Megan Seyfert as Patti Quince, Alyssa Grear as Franci Flute, Kelbi McKinley as Terri Thumbs, Autumn Kirkland as Roberta Sudds, Haley Youhas as Janet Snug, Damon Burnett as Gov. Chris Athens, Rachel Berner as Hippolyta, Kaylee Ritzma as Phyllis Trait, Lexi Brooks as Justine Dicarlo and Andrew Davidson as Rufus Dicarlo.

Also featured are Celeste Huckleberry as Moonbeam, Evian Pettis as Sunflower, Quiana Strickland as Sunshine, Tabitha Gallaher as Peaseblossom, Breana Buford as Cobweb and Rachel Berner as Turtle.

The director is DHS drama teacher Lisa Richter. Elizabeth Dampf is the assistant director and Jeff Kuras is technical director.

Richter said, “I’ve always loved Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ and this play is the same story, but set in modern times. My students asked for a comedy; this one is based on a good story, but is still extremely funny. My students are having a great time with it, and they’re learning about a beautiful story without getting bogged down in the Shakespearean language.”

Richter said there is a nice mixture of both veteran actors and students who will appear on stage for the first time in the production.

“In some ways a comedy can be more difficult to present than a drama,” Richter said. “The actors have to have good timing and natural wit to pull it off. A lot of the kids are a lot funnier than I am, and they’ve come up with some great comic bits for this play. They’ve really taken a lot of ownership in it.”

Richter said that most of the scenery for this play is simple, and because the actors wear updated costumes, they can borrow each other’s wardrobe items to fit their various roles.

DHS senior Demi Richter plays Mia DiCarlo — a major role in the show — and she has been on stage since childhood.

“For anyone who enjoys both Shakespeare and comedy, this is a show you will want to see,” Demi said. “Since it’s an updated version of the original play, it’s a lot easier for everyone to relate to the characters. We’re definitely having a lot of fun with it.”

If you go

“Midsummer Jersey” will be presented by the Danville High School Players at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 in the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at DHS. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students.