Shakespeare in the Park: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

PRINCETON – Festival 56 will present Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Soldiers and Sailors Park during the month of July. The show opens with a matinee at 2 p.m. on July 1 with additional performances at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays from July 8–29. Audiences are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and enjoy this free outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy.

The play follows the adventures of four lovers: Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius. Hermia, in love with Lysander, is ordered by her father to wed Demetrius. Instead she flees with Lysander to the forest. Demetrius, pursued by the besotted Helena, himself pursues Hermia to the wood.

In the same forest, King Oberon and Queen Titania, rulers of the fairyland, have been in discord. Their ongoing feud has begun to cause disorder in the mortal world. Not to be undone by his fairy rulers, the mischievous Puck is never far from any scene, ready to be as delightfully unhelpful as possible. He soon encounters a band of mechanicals that has also gathered in the forest to rehearse the greatest of all things: a play. Soon, one of these would-be actors is be-spelled by Puck and thrown dizzyingly into the fairy world.

No character is safe from confusion as love potions, spells, and the magic of the wood take hold.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a long and colorful history. The classic wedding march universally played today originated in Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for a production of the Shakespeare play. Mendelssohn’s score was adapted by George Balanchine to become his first full-length ballet. Two years before the ballet’s 1962 premiere, Benjamin Britten composed the music for an opera based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In 1935, a Hollywood film of the play starred James Cagney as Bottom, Mickey Rooney as Puck, Olivia de Havilland as Hermia, Joe E. Brown as Francis Flute, Dick Powell as Lysander, and Victor Jory as Oberon. A Midsummer Night’s Dream launched Festival 56’s Shakespeare in the Park series during the theater’s inaugural 2004 season.

For further information, please call the Festival 56 box office at (815) 879-5656.