It’s a small neighborhood park, with an active play area, set in a diverse area on Chicago’s north side. The defined space for the stage and audience is small, with low green cords lining aisles for stage entrances and exits. The audience brings chairs, blankets and dinner; a theater in the mind emerges as Midsommer Flight’s talented cast sweeps us into Shakespeare’s rom-com.
Two Gentlemen of Verona is thought to be Shakespeare’s first play. The Globe Theater did not exist. Plays were given in taverns, bawdy houses, and on the less desirable side of the Themes. Our environment was not dissimilar as auto alarms went off, a large birthday party complete with bouncy castle ensconced itself at the bottom of our “theater”, and regular park patrons continued to walk and bike by, in their own worlds. Through all, Shakespeare reigned. With voices projected over the din, the hearts and souls of the performers rose to overcome the challenge. While life went on around us, Midsommer Flight carried the audience to Verona and Milan.
The Magic is in the Mix of MIDSOMMER FLIGHT casting
The leads, Chad Bay as a fickle Proteus, David Goodloe as the valiant Valentine, LaKecia Harris as loyal Julia and Amy Malcom as stalwart Silvia, were so comfortable in their roles that it took a moment to recognize them post-performance. Adding to the sophistication of the ensemble is James Sparling is the Duke, whose British accent gave special credence to his lines, and he delivered at a pace understandable to American ears. The servants and outlaws-- Richard Eisloeffel as Speed, Stephanie Mattos as Launce, Shanna Sweeney as Lucetta and Nick Villalon as Pantino—are the comedic roles. Woven through the trials of the lovers, they share their own views of love and life. Thurio, played by Jack Morsoville, is the wealthy spurned lover of Silvia. He took his role over the top to the delight of the audience.
Director Beth Wolf, stage manager, Hazel Marie, and scenic director, Jeremiah Barr, know how to make a lot from a little. As Hamlet is often quoted, “The plays the thing”. MIDSOMMER FLIGHT embraces that to bring Shakespeare to the parks across Chicago. And they keep performances under two hours, so we are home before dark.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Chad Bay, Richard Eisloeffel, David Goodloe, LaKecia Harris, Amy Malcom, Stephanie Mattos, Robin Minken, Jack Morsovillo, James Sparling, Shanna Sweeney, Nick Villalon
Beth Wolf, Director; Hazel Marie, Stage Manager; Jeremiah Barr, Scenic Director; Paul Cook, Assistant Director; Annelise Dickinson, Vocal Coach; Meredith Ernst, Text Coach; Kanomé Jones, Casting Director; Tom McGrath, Production Photography; Kristina McCloskey, Dog Liaison; John Morrison, Graphic Designer; John Olson, Press Relations; Elizabeth Rentfro, Composer/Music Director; Chris Smith and Maureen Yasko, Flight and Intimacy Directors; Annarose Steward, House Manager; Rachel M. Sypniewski, Costume Designer.
Production photos by Tom McGrath, TCMCG Photography; Audience photos by Ann Boland.
When and Where:
August 4-5 and 11-12, 6 pm
Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens
1801 S. Indiana Avenue, 60616
August 18-19, 6 pm
7348 N. Paulina, 60626
August 25-26, 6 pm
2045 N. Lincoln Park West, 60614
Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation. Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders. Please visit her website for more information.
Click here to read more Picture this Post reviews by Ann Boland.