MTV and Shakespeare in Haldane Production of Midsummer/Jersey

Junior cast falls into midsummer night’s dream on Jersey shore

By Michelle McEwen

What happens when A Midsummer Night’s Dream meets The Jersey Shore? MTV and Shakespeare collide in the upcoming Haldane Middle School Drama Department’s production of the comedy Midsummer/Jersey by Ken Ludwig (the talented playwright who wrote Crazy for You, among other works).

A play chosen by the director, Martha Mechalakos, for its unique blend of the classic and the contemporary, Midsummer/Jersey sets Shakespeare’s play on the boardwalk of a seaside town in modern-day New Jersey.Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena become Mia, Lyle, Dennis, and Helene. The Duke of Athens, Theseus, turns into the young and hip Governor of New Jersey, Chris; the rustics metamorphose into gabby beauticians; and of course, everyone speaks in a Jersey accent.

Haldane Middle Schoolers Freya Wood-Gallagher, left, and Roisin Daly in rehearsal for Midsummer/Jersey.

Haldane Middle Schoolers Freya Wood-Gallagher, left, and Roisin Daly in rehearsal for Midsummer/Jersey.

The story begins when Mia and Lyle become stars of a reality TV show and flash back six years to recount the events that led up to their wedding. As the play unfolds, the plot revolves around the imminent marriage of the Governor of New Jersey, the sandy love affairs of four high school crushes, a colorful crew of fairies, and the stylists of the local beauty salon. Magic transforms the night when the mischievous Oberon and Puck make their entrance with a powerful love potion that will devastate several weddings and the acting careers of six stylists — unless true love can ride out the wave.

For those who love Shakespeare, Mechalakos assures that the playwright follows the original work “pretty closely act by act, scene by scene, and a lot of the time, speech by speech.” The entire play is written in verse for a seamless script. For those who love the modern twist, Mechalakos continues, “the playwright left explicit instructions to keep it very current, so there are a lot of contemporary references.”

Such hilarities await the audience as Puck obsesses over his iPhone, Oberon plays an electric guitar on the beach, and the wild, spiky-haired fairies dance to the 2014 hit Happy by Pharrell Williams. Parodying Shakespeare while jesting pop culture, this romantic romp makes the timeless timely.

About 50 students auditioned for the production as one of the largest casting pools ever witnessed at Haldane’s Middle School, a testament to the building success of the drama program. Commenting on the department’s progress, Mechalakos asserts:

It seems like every year, things just get better. We learn with every season that we do. I think that it doesn’t matter if it’s drama, music, or sports — when you establish levels of excellence, more people want to be involved, and when more people are involved, you have a bigger pool to make selections from. Even that in itself begets a superior product. It’s been steady progress … we just keep trying to raise the bar.

Based on this upward trend, it looks as if this new production will be one of Haldane Middle School’s finest yet. Freya Wood-Gallagher, who plays Nikki Bottom, enthuses that “it’s a really funny play with a lot of modern day jokes,” while Mollie Altucher praises “it’s cool because it’s a spoof off of Shakespeare’s play.”

Mechalakos encourages the community to “Come see the show! It’s going to be a lot of fun. Midsummer Night’s Dream is just a fabulous play, and for those who may be a little intimidated by seeing Shakespeare, this is the next best thing.”

Haldane Drama will perform Midsummer/Jersey at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 13 and 14, in the Haldane School Auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door for $12 for the general public, and for $5 for students and seniors.

Cast

Principal Platt: ASHLEY HAINES

Governor Chris Athens: ANDREW NACHAMKIN

Hippolyta: ISSY TOOTH

Phyllis Trait: KATIE LANGER

Justine DeCarlo: JESSICA CASEY

Rufus DeCarlo: NOAH BINGHAM

Mia “Cookie” DeCarlo: LINDSAY PHILLIPS

Lyle “The Understatment” Fagioli.: MAX MORMAR

Denis: WESLEY HALL

Helene: RILEY BISSINGER

Patti Quince: ROISIN DALY

Nikki Bottom: FREYA WOOD-GALLAGHER

Franci Flute: PARKER PARELLA

Terri Thumbs: ABIGAIL DUNCAN

Roberta Sudds: EVY ASHBURN

Janet Snug: MAE MCGRATH

Oberon: HUDSON LOVELL

Titania: MOLLIE ALTUCHER

Robin Goodfellow (Puck): JUSTIN ROFFMAN

Moonbeam: KATE DWYER

Sunflower: MEGHAN FERRI

Sunshine: GENNA SPOSET

Turtle: EMILY MCDERMOTT

Peaseblossom: CATE KANLONG

Mustardseed: GRACE CLAFFEY

Cobweb: MAURA KANE-SEITZ

Mote: .REVA SANDLUND

Dewdrop: MAYA MAXWELL

Gigi: STASIA COOPE

Chelsea: ANNEKE CHAN

Bakari: MADDY BARKMAN

Jack: MAX BARKMAN

Kim: ABIGAIL PLATT

Olivia: MOLLY REID

Governor Athen’s Bodyguards: TOM PERCACCIOLO and LUCAS URRIBE

Oberon’s Escorts: SAM SEWARD, CURTIS HUBER, GABRIEL KELLER, MAX BARKMAN

Additional Fairies: STASIA COOPE, ANNEKE CHAN, MADDY BARKMAN, ABIGAIL PLATT, SOPHIA IMMORLICA, MOLLY REID, JULIE GELLER, TAYLOR FARRELL, OLIVIA MONTELEONE, ISABELLE MONTELEONE, SOFIA VIGGIANO

Understudies

Oberon: NOAH BINGHAM

Titania: MOLLY REID

Robin Goodfellow: SAM SEWARD

Mia: MADDY BARKMAN

Lyle: GABRIEL KELLER

Helene: ABIGAIL PLATT

Denis: CURTIS HUBER

Nikki Bottom: STASIA COOPE

Patti Quince: ASHLEY HAINES

Franci Flute: ANNEKE CHAN

Governor Athens: MAX BARKMAN

Hippolyta: SOPHIA IMMORLICA

Photo by Jim Mechalakos


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