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By Terri Wells
The Moonlight Players' production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" proves once again that the Bard's works can play well regardless of the setting. In this case, it is the Old West, where Sheriff "Duke" Theseus is about to marry Hippolyta.

Under the capable hands of directors Jan Sheldon and Dan Martin, this production celebrating the twentieth anniversary season of the community theater will make you laugh as it weaves its spell of enchantment.

It's the same story and the same Shakespearean language we all know, and it's to the credit of the actors and directors that it flows as naturally in its new setting as if the playwright himself was born in that century.

Fairies become mischievous Native American spirits, the "mechanicals" become townsfolk putting on a play to honor the wedding of their leading citizens, and the lovers, as ever, remain lovers. The costumes ably convey the setting and the personalities of the characters.

Of course it's those characters who convey the story. And what a convoluted story it is. Hermia is at odds with her father because he wants her to marry Demetrius, rather than her true love, Lysander.

Demetrius loves Hermia and hates Helena. Helena is hopelessly in love with Demetrius, whom Hermia spurns. When Hermia's father tries to force the decision, putting it to Sheriff Theseus, the sheriff stands by the law which would force one of three choices on Hermia: do as her father wishes, retire to a convent, or be put to death.

When Hippolyta hears of this, she is not amused by her fiance's stance. In fact, it calls the entire wedding into question.

Meanwhile, the native spirits are in an uproar, as King Oberon and Queen Titania are at odds over a child the queen is raising, born of one of her handmaids, now deceased. In case you have lost count, that is five couples in disharmony and we haven't even gotten to the townsfolk, amateur actors out to depict the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Somehow, most of these players end up in the same woods, and naturally chaos ensues. How does it all resolve? You'll have to see for yourself.

With such a large cast, it's nearly impossible to call out all of the best actors, but it is safe to say that Jan's reputation for perfect casting continues. Among the lovers, Solomon Campbell as Lysander entrances with his good looks, strong stage presence, and beautiful delivery.

Sophia Moenssens all but steals the show in most of her scenes as Helena, making us feel the anguish of her situation.

Among the amateur actors, J. Michael Werner as Bottom plays it big and bold, as this role requires, making everyone laugh and looking like he's having the time of his life doing so.

Joel Castro as Flute also delivers the laughs as his character grudgingly throws himself into the part of Thisbe.

Among the spirits, Puck's part is by far the most challenging, going hither and yon for his master Oberon, getting into and out of mischief, causing all manner of gleeful havoc and not all of it intentional.

Would you be surprised to hear that this difficult role was carried off with distinction by a seventh grader -- namely Bryce Hall? My theater companions dubbed him "amazing," and I must agree. Go to see this delightful "Dream;" you will not be disappointed.

The Moonlight Warehouse Theatre is located at 735 Minneola Avenue in Historic Downtown Clermont. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is playing now through October 5, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2:30pm.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students. Call 352-319-1116 for reservations. Find them online at

Moonlight Players' production " A Midsummer Night's Dream" was full of delightful surprises
Terri Wells Review


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