Shakespeare gets new life with oldies

Shakespeare gets new life with oldies
Sandy Campbell (left) as “Titania” and Tom Stephenson as “Bottom,” perform “Earth Angel,” released by The Penguins in 1954, in the Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Musical” at the Clayton E. Liggett Theatre, San Dieguito Academy through Sept. 23. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Musical” has been bringing audiences to their feet since its debut on Aug. 30. 

The Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s production continues through Sept. 23 at the Clayton E. Liggett Theatre at San Dieguito Academy.

The comedy follows two couples on a meandering road to true love facilitated by a mythological fairy named Puck. That road takes a detour when Shakespeare’s poetry is woven with doo wop and other vinyl hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s made popular by Sam Cook, Etta James, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers and The Platters to name a few.

Taylor Peckham has a dual role as Puck and the show’s musical director, providing accompaniment from a piano, singing classics including Jerry Lee Lewis’ “A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On.”

Intrepid co-founder Sean Cox originated the concept of remixing golden oldies with Shakespeare.

“It was the hardest play in the world to cast because we were not only looking for actors who could handle Shakespeare, but who could sing and dance and move well,” he said.

After months of auditions and callbacks, 13 young actors, singers, dancers, and even an acrobat, made the final cut. Among them are award-winning actors Sandy Campbell (Titania) and David McBean (Flute) who have performed at the La Jolla Playhouse, Lamb’s Players Theatre, Cygnet Theatre and the Moonlight Amphitheatre. Other cast members include: Tom Stephenson (Bottom), Brian Mackey (Demetrius), TJ Johnson (Snout), Sean Cox (Oberon), Kevin Koppman-Gue (Lysander), Danny Campbell (Egeus), Taylor Peckham (Puck & Musical Director), Eddie Yaroch (Peter Quince) and a band.

“We are constantly amazed that we have this group of actors, all in the same room, and at the same time,” Cox said. “We’ve got some of the finest actors in town, but they are doing things I don’t know that people have done before. Shakespearean actors are singing and dancing, and musical theater performers are reciting Shakespeare — and doing tremendous.”

Cox’s experiment paid off, even among younger audience members who are required to study “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in middle school.

“We went to speak at SDA and asked how many students read the play, and every single one had,” Cox said. “It’s the first family-friendly show we have done, and there’s been a bridge between generations that is wonderful.”

This is the second time Intrepid co-founder Christy Yael collaborated as co-director with Colleen Kollar Smith, co-writer and choreographer of Lamb’s Players Theatre production of “Mixtape — The Greatest Hits of the 80s!”

The first time was on Intrepid’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” in 2010.

“Colleen is a remarkable talent and I have been looking for another project to work on with her,” Yael said. “The inspiration for the musical adaptation actually came to me while watching her choreography in “The Music Man” at Lamb’s Players. Colleen is so adept at storytelling through physicality. Our strengths are in different arenas, which is making for a very exciting collaboration.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Musical” will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. There will be no performance Sept. 14. The last performance is at 7 p.m. Sept. 23. Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and military and $15 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at intrepidshakespeare.com or through the box office at (888) 71-TICKETS, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Intrepid operates from the San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre, 800 Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas. Fifty percent of the company’s time and resources are committed to education. Its Education Outreach programs take workshops and performances of plays to elementary, middle and high schools throughout Southern California. The program, introduced in early 2010, has succeeded in bringing live Shakespeare performances to more 22,000 students and has become a proven asset to the academic community.

To learn more about Intrepid’s education programs and the 2012 Education Tour, visit intrepidshakespeare.com/Education_Tour.html or call (760) 652-5011.

At 2 p.m. Sept. 16, Intrepid is hosting a Family Day performance. Children of all ages are encouraged to attend.

Proceeds from the performance and concessions will go to Angels Foster Family Network, a San Diego-based nonprofit agency dedicated to saving the lives of infants and toddlers.

For more information, visit angelsfoster.org.

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