The Florence-Carlton Shakespeare Company is presenting William Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” the mischievous comedy with a moral twist, May 11, 12 and 13.
Derk Schmidt, drama educator and play director, said he is impressed that his students pursue the excellence of Shakespearean theatre.
“That teenagers in Florence, Montana, have chosen the path of a professional Shakespeare company is a phenomenon that warrants both respect and your attendance,” he said.
Senior Keith Rose said he enjoys the classic medium.
"The rich language and the plot behind it are interesting and fun to perform," Rose said. “Once you study and truly understand the language Shakespeare uses, it opens up deep and challenging possibilities for us as actors."
Junior Phoebe Hall said performing Shakespeare is challenging.
"We don't have the resources that larger schools have to perform more traditional plays,” Hall said. “So a Shakespeare company and Shakespearean theatre is something that has allowed us to stand out from everyone else."
Senior Tucker Johnson, student director, said the cast and crew worked hard.
"Mr. Schmidt's unique take on this play is something that will pleasantly surprise Shakespeare fans and will be enjoyed thoroughly by all,” Johnson said. “I feel extremely fortunate to be working with him and the cast in putting on this one of a kind performance."
“A Midsummer Night's Dream” has many plots, twists and hijinks and includes the fairy realm.
The basic story is about the impending wedding between Theseus - Duke of Athens (Nick Rausch), and his bride-to-be - Hippolyta (Anna Stiegler).
Schmidt said Shakespeare’s themes of wealth, poverty, social status and morality continue today.
“The play challenges the audience to look at how people treat each other based on social status,” he said. “It questions the validity of true love versus infatuation.”
The plot thickens as Hermia (Angie Elkinton) disobeys her father to pursue Lysander (Keith Rose) rather than Demetrius (Tucker Johnson), while Helena’s (Phoebe Hall) former crush Demetrius, pursues Hermia.
Rose said the audience will love the chemistry between characters that has been fully developed by classmates who know each other well.
"Without a doubt my favorite part of the play is Act 3 scene 1, which is the big confrontation between all of the lovers,” Rose said. “It is all over the place and there's a lot of yelling and fighting and it's truly chaotic because the fight is only happening because of magic.”
King Oberon commands his favorite fairy, Puck (Jasper Roberts), to cast a spell upon these young lovers to arrange happy unions. All those plans go wrong resulting in comedy, chaos and heartbreak.
Roberts said the audience will love how much he interacts with them.
“Shakespeare's Puck is an unpredictable and fun-loving fairy who gives a feeling of involvement that I think will include and pleasantly surprise the audience," Roberts said.
Another play-within-a-play is that a group of poor working-class men led by Peter Quince (Zach Henderson) attempt to write and rehearse a play to be performed after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess.
Schmidt said that in Shakespeare's time fairies and the supernatural were accepted, feared and welcomed by citizens of Elizabethan England.
The plot of the fairy portion of the play is that King Oberon (senior Zach Schroeder) is jealous that Queen Titania (Kristin Hall) has acquired a human boy for her own. The king believes that he should be the true owner. The fairies have turned the human world into chaotic imbalance with overflowing rivers, swirling winds and altered seasons.
Mischief abounds as Oberon casts a spell on his wife to obtain the boy and the weaver Nick Bottom (senior Jewel Zeiler) becomes the butt of a joke.
Zeiler said playing Nick Bottom was challenging.
“I have never had to play a male part before,” she said. “To be a convincing male I have been just picking up on little body movements from boys throughout my school. However, I do feel like I am myself in this character because a lot of my over-the-top personality can shine through him."
After much contemplation of life, the play ends with three marriages.
Schroeder said his favorite part of the play comes just at the end.
"Just reading it doesn't do it justice and after seeing it acted out well made it a much more comedic and enjoyable scene to watch,” he said.
The Florence High School choirs sing and perform music throughout the play that ends with a solo by Kristin Hall. The production has an original score composed and performed by Derk Schmidt, vocals on “Lullaby” performed by the FCHS Carltonian Choir and arranged by Amy Smart.
Senior Angie Elkinton, assistant director, said her favorite part of the play isn’t a scene.
“It's the people on stage with me and my director that have made the experience so amazing and memorable,” she said. “This is positively something I will remember for the remainder of my life.”
Schmidt and his father, Wayne Schmidt, designed and built the unique set with a beautiful balcony, stunning artwork and a design that creates a half-round theatre.
“The audience will be closer than ever to the performers, creating an intimate and exciting experience for all,” Schmidt said.
Zeiler said students at Florence-Carlton start from scratch.
“We have to build a theatre — set, lights, seating,” she said. “These productions make it so personal because everything our audience looks at is 100 percent from our hearts.”
The Florence-Carlton Shakespeare Company’s production of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” will be presented at 7:30 p.m., on May 11 and 12, and at 2:30 p.m., on Sunday, May 13, in the old gym.
The Friday show will follow the Missoula Children's Theatre production of “Aladdin” for a double header.
Tickets are available at the door and cost $4 for general admission, $2 for students and faculty (mothers get in free on Sunday).
“It is your support of the performing arts and live theatre that makes this all possible, so please do not miss this opportunity to see Montana's finest Shakespearean actors in action,” Schmidt said.