For three nights, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and faculty came together as a community to experience the world of Shakespeare with the play “A Rockin’ Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by the Drama Club from March 7-9 in the auditorium. Four hundred and fifty tickets were sold for between $8-$15, and the proceeds will be used for future drama productions.
The main cast of the play features senior Alex Wind as Oberon, senior Sawyer Garrity as Titania, sophomore Peri Harris as Puck, senior Alex Athanasiou as Lysander, junior Ethan Kaufman as Demetrius, sophomore Avery Anger as Hermia, senior Dylan Redshaw as Helena, junior Andrea Peña as Hippolyta, junior Tanzil Philip as Theseus, and freshman David Prengler as Nick Bottom.
The drama students prepared for this play for about two months. They rehearsed almost every day during and after school, sometimes even rehearsing on the weekends. Drama teacher Melody Herzfeld and the student music directors Tan Philip and Andrea Peña determined who would be cast in each role following auditions.
Usually the cast tries to make it their goal to memorize all their lines, or go “off book,” at least a month before the show. Then they have “tech week,” where they work on stage with all the technical parts of the show running. They would usually do two to three full run throughs of the show during this “tech week.”
“In our production, we have student leaders who have assisted in direction, choreography, art, music and really in every aspect of the show–putting their hands in to make it come together,” Herzfeld said. “We are a blessed group and we do know that when all else goes wrong, love is truly what it’s all about; how much you give, how much you take and how much you share with others–in the end love will right this world we live in.”
The plot of the play is the epitome of the lives of a community being flipped completely around in one night, but being restored once again with the power of love.
“It was a super cool experience and we had so much fun doing it. It’s really fun getting to work on a big project like this all together. The show is a comedy about what happens when a little mischief enters someone’s life and mixes it up,” Garrity said. “Couples get switched up, people get turned into donkeys, and there’s a dog on stage. It’s a really fun and lighthearted show which is nice to do in the midst of everything we have going on in our lives.”
“A Rockin Midsummer Night’s Dream” was created by Michael Unger of NewArts of Newtown, Connecticut in the summer of 2014. NewArts was an art and youth empowerment organization that was created to help kids develop personalities and boost their confidence through theatre. NewArts was started by Dr. Michael Baroody, who wanted to create this organization as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.
“It is my hope that, as in the play, love, alongside the type of boldness that demands compassion, builds community, and promotes understanding, will combat the negative forces that inevitably get thrown in our paths…” Unger said in an interview with Broadway World.
Herzfeld felt a connection to this particular play and the reason for its creation.
“The fact that it was created in a community much like ours, that had experienced the same pain and tragedy, made it seem meant to be,” Herzfeld said.
Senior Shai Har Nov attended the production and felt it was an entertaining interpretation of Shakespeare’s original play.
“[The show] was really well prepared and was truly a comedy, probably even better than what Shakespeare intended,” Har Nov said. “I also really liked how there was a live band to accompany the students and how it was more interactive with the students coming from the audience or running into it.”
Senior Calista Ng also loved the band, as well as the special appearance of River, Media Specialist Diana Haneski’s dog.
“My friends and I also were excited about Mrs. Haneski’s dog, River, making an appearance towards the end of the play,” Ng said. “After reading the playbill, and realizing that the director/creator of this rendition of ‘A Rockin Midsummer Night’s Dream’ did it in an environment where the people suffered losses from the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School, I felt even more emotionally connected with the play. I really felt that the night I watched it, everyone including the audience and actors, were all together as one community and one heart.”
Herzfeld created a VIP student ticket program, which was offered for the first time with this production. The program allows teachers to select a deserving student in their classes to receive a free ticket to a drama production as a classroom incentive. There were 20 students who received VIP tickets.
This story was originally published in the April 2019 Eagle Eye print edition.