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Spellbinding blunder leads love asunder in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Monday, April 22, 2019

LAWRENCE — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will showcase the strength of artistic collaboration, the exceptionalism of composer Benjamin Britten and the humor of William Shakespeare. The opera features the KU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carolyn Watson, as well as the University of Kansas School of Music’s voice students and the University Theatre’s actors and designers.

The University Theatre collaborates with the KU School of Music and the KU Symphony Orchestra every other year to bring a large-scale, fully produced opera to campus. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will run April 26 and 28 and May 2 and 4 at the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. All performances are at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of April 28, which is at 2:30 p.m.

This classic tells the story of romantic entanglements, brought on by interference from the fairy world, connected to the celebration of a “royal wedding.” Themes of love, betrayal and especially fantasy are present. Audiences will be swept away into a fairy world of an enchanted forest and castle ruins; the set makes use of the theatre’s revolving stage.

“We’re staying true to the roots of Shakespeare as we celebrate this well-known comedy and present it in a way that’s accessible for all. Regardless of whether you’ve been to the opera once or hundreds of times, we invite you in and know you’ll be entertained,” said John Stephens, director and KU professor of voice. “Offering such a high production value opera in the heart of campus that facilitates a collaboration of music and theatre is integral to our mission to our students and to the community. The entire cast and creative team cannot wait until opening night to show the community what talent is here at KU.”

The creative team is rounded out by of Kate Smeltzer, a Master of Fine Arts student in scenography, as scenic designer; Ann Sitzman, Department of Theatre & Dance’s technical coordinator, as lighting designer; Kelly Vogel, resident artist/academic associate in the Department of Theatre & Dance, as costume designer; Christian Boudreaux, KU Theatre senior, as fight/movement choreographer; and Jenifer Cooper, a Master of Fine Arts student in scenography, as stage manager. Additionally, Mark Ferrell, KU associate professor and musical director for KU Opera, contributed to musical preparation.

Many of the roles are double-cast to give students more opportunities to contribute to this production, Stephens said. Individuals’ performance dates can be found at kutheatre.com.

The cast consists of Zachary Cope, a graduate student in music from Topeka, as Oberon; Sarah Hennessey, a graduate student in opera from Kansas City, as Tytania; Christian Boudreaux, a senior theatre performance major from Kansas City, and Sarah Stockton, a senior theatre and voice major from San Antonio, as Puck; Reno Wilson, a graduate student in opera performance from El Cajon, California, as Theseus; Sarah Kathryn Curtis, a graduate student in opera from Kansas City, Missouri, and Kelly Southworth, a graduate student in voice from Salt Lake City, as Hippolyta; Anthony Rohr, a doctoral student in voice from Dickenson, North Dakota; and Neal Long, a doctoral student in voice, as Lysander; John Meyer, a graduate student from Leawood, and Daniel Loganbill, a graduate student in voice performance from Lenexa, as Demetrius; Anna Patterson, a senior voice performance major from Lawrence, and Michaela Mack, a senior voice performance major from Lawrence, as Hermia; Emma Finder, a sophomore in music therapy from Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bethany Dart, a sophomore voice performance major from Bellevue, Nebraska, as Helena; Evan Edwards, a doctoral student in vocal pedagogy from Kansas City, Missouri, as Bottom; Winston Sullivan, a doctoral student in musical education and vocal pedagogy from Knoxville, Tennessee, as Quince; Kevin Thomas Smith, a doctoral student in voice performance from Hastings, Nebraska, and Brian Sussman, a doctoral student in voice performance from Brooklyn, New York, as Flute; Kevin Weingarten, a doctoral student in music education, as Snug; Kang Noh Park, a doctoral student in voice from Seoul, South Korea, as Snout; William Simpson, a junior voice performance major from Prairie Village, as Starveling; Jane Trembley, a junior voice performance major from Santa Fe, New Mexico, as Cobweb; Karli Cabrera, a graduate student in voice performance from Pawnee City, Nebraska, as Mustardseed; Victoria Searles, a junior voice performance major from Topeka, as Peaseblossom; and Shannon Nelson, a sophomore music education major from Topeka, as Moth. An ensemble of fairies will be played by Clara Boyd, a freshman voice performance and psychology major from Moran; Alexis Derritt, a junior voice performance and Italian double major from Lawrence; Brian Locascio, a senior music therapy major from Independence, Missouri; and Whitney Wells, a senior voice performance major from Houston.

Tickets to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are on sale now at the KU University Theatre ticketing office in Murphy Hall and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling University Theatre at 785-864-3982. Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors/KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

The University Theatre is a production wing of the University of Kansas’ Department of Theatre & Dance, offering six public productions during the academic year. The University Theatre productions are funded in part by Student Senate fees, and supported by Truity Credit Union. For more information on the University Theatre or to purchase tickets, visit KUtheatre.com.

The department is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

Photos: Carolyn Watson, John Stephens.

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