By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Audiences will have four days only to catch Keizer Homegrown Theatre’s production of Shakespeare in the Park product of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this month.
Performances are at the Keizer Rapids Park amphitheater on July 22 through 25 at 7 p.m. each night. The performances are free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.
“For people who are not familiar with the show, they’ll be surprised with what Shakespeare came up with. Most of the time he was writing about characters that are historical or could be historical and here you have fairies running around the forest. People of all ages will enjoy the story,” said Lyndon Zaitz, who plays Puck in the production.
The story is set in the days immediately preceding a royal wedding. A daughter rebels against her father’s wishes for her marriage, and craziness ensues in the forest as she attempts to elope. In the meantime, there is discord in the fairy world which spills over into the world of mortals. The lovers and a band of players preparing for the nuptial entertainment are caught in the middle.
For those expecting a run-of-the-mill production, KHT’s is anything but. In director Linda Baker’s version of the play all of the characters have been age-swapped. The eloping lovers in the play, who are traditionally played by younger actors, are residents of a retirement community.
Meanwhile, the parts usually given to older actors have been taken on by some of the younger members in the KHT cast.
“We have grumpy old Puck who doesn’t care, and I think it’s fantastic. It adds a whole new layer to the character and to the show,” said Jeremy Clubb, who plays Oberon, king of the fairies.
The fairy-folk even have their own flutist in Sherry Lanning, a veteran performers of events such as the World Beat Festival.
“We’re still working it out, but I’m one of the fairies and play when called upon,” Lanning said.
Not only does the production include some veteran Keizer actors, but many of their children are featured as fairies.
There is also a bit with a dog.
“It’s probably one of Shakespeare’s most approachable plays and accessible for people who don’t like theatre or Shakespeare, specifically,” Zaitz said.
The production is KHT’s fourth Shakespeare in the Park and productions have grown every summer.
“Every year, our audience continues to grow, and people who have never gotten Shakespeare finally get it,” Baker said.
Zaitz added, “It’s a good evening to go out be entertained by people who care a lot about what they are doing.”