Cruiser Theatre Co. takes on the challenge of performing Shakespeare

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Photo courtesy of Trulie Pleasant
Pictured here on stage during a recent rehearsal, from left to right, are Gavin Prifogle, Arianna Thomas, Aidan Kennedy, and seated upstage are Alyssa Brown (back) and Logan Boyer (forward). Also seated are members of backstage crew Devin Williams and Elliot Phillips.

Groveport Madison High School’s Cruiser Theatre Co. will delve into a classic work by William Shakespeare for its next performance.

The theatre troupe will perform Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” edited by Corey Ragan. The play is a comedy in five acts.

“Like most Shakespearean plays, it calls for a bit of music, which I have hired Robert Hosier to compose original pieces for,” said Groveport Madison High School Theatre Director Erin McLaughlin. “However, there is not enough music for this to be truly considered a musical.”

McLaughlin said some students in the theatre troupe begged her to produce “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” after they read it together in Theatre II last spring.

“The idea of producing Shakespeare with high school students was daunting, but the more I thought about it, the more I was like, ‘Why not?’” said McLaughlin. “I’ve wanted to direct one of Shakespeare’s plays for a long time, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorites.”

McLaughlin said Shakespeare provides unique challenges for the students.

“First and foremost, the language is difficult for the students involved in the show,” McLaughlin said. “Although we have an edited version of the play that trims out some fluff and changes some potentially offensive language, the script is still in Shakespeare’s 400-year-old wording, which for this show is almost entirely in iambic pentameter and almost entirely in rhyming couplets”

She said the cast and crew are still rehearsing (and will be performing) in masks, (due to the ongoing COVID pandemic), which creates challenges for making sure every actor can be clearly heard and understood from anywhere in the auditorium.

“Technically, this show doesn’t require a lot of scenery, but we’re trying to do some interesting things with lighting,” said McLaughlin. “Costumes are probably the biggest technical hurdle – I’m setting the show in Victorian England with an “Alice in Wonderland” aesthetic filter, which creates its own challenges, and some of my actors have quick changes because they play more than one character. Fortunately, we’ve had a ton of students come out this year to work behind the scenes, which is a blessing I haven’t really had here before.”

The show provides some choice roles for the student actors. The lead roles include:

• “Hermia is played by Arianna Thomas, a senior with a lot of emotional range and great instincts as an actor,” said McLaughlin. “She really brings Hermia’s sweet sassiness and fiery streak to life.”

• “Lysander is played by Gavin Prifogle, a junior with great versatility and an incredible talent for physical comedy, tempered by the sensibilities necessary for a strong romantic lead,” said McLaughlin.

• “Helena is played by Olivia Chaney, a sophomore with strong passion and dedication to the theatre program,” said McLaughlin. “Helena’s monologues positively sparkle in Olivia’s portrayal.”

• “Demetrius is played by Aidan Kennedy, a senior with an impressive gift for physical comedy and enviable skill in balancing multiple extracurriculars,” said McLaughlin. “He’s brought the cast new techniques to aid in memorizing their many, many lines for this show.”

• “Oberon is played by Logan Boyer, a junior who joined the cast a month into production in a moment of great need,” said McLaughlin. “Her instincts and interpretation of her character are spot on, and she’s an incredibly hard worker.”

• Robin Goodfellow is played by Alyssa Brown, a senior with myriad acting credits,” said McLaughlin. “She brings energy, vitality, and mischief to her role and never fails to bring smiles to those around her wherever she goes.”

Performance dates, times, tickets
The Cruiser Theatre Co. will perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Nov. 18, 19, and 20 at 7 p.m. all three nights. The show will be livestreamed and limited in person seating available. Ticket information can be found at cruisertheatre.weebly.com. Tickets: $7 for viewing online; in person, students and seniors are $5 if purchased online, $7 if purchased in cash at the door; and in person general admission is $7 if purchased online, $9 if purchased in cash at the door.

Upcoming Cruiser Theatre Co. shows
McLaughlin said the intent is to perform “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol,” by John Longenbaugh on Jan. 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. both nights; “Goodness Gracious,” by Hank (Henry) Kimmel as the Cruiser Theatre Co.’s “Play-in-a-Day” on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.; and “Fiddler on the Roof’ as the spring musical on April 7-10 at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday matinee).

All performances will be in the Groveport Madison High School auditorium, 4475 S. Hamilton Road.

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