DALLAS -- Bollman Auditorium will be transformed into a dreamscape populated by fairies and pranksters during a performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Thursday.
The free performance is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. at Dallas High School's Bollman Auditorium, 1250 SE Holman Ave.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" features the often hysterical combination of absolute love and equally absolute confusion.
The chaos develops with a dispute between Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, who live in the forest outside Athens, where the play is set.
Oberon, wanting revenge, tells his servant, Puck, to apply a magical solution to her eyes while sleeping that will make her fall in love with the first being she sees upon awaking.
Spotting a young man, Demetrius, acting cruelly toward a young woman, Helena, Oberon orders Puck to apply the solution to the young man's eyes while he sleeps, as well. He is hoping to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena, and he does. But not before Puck uses the solution on the wrong man (Lysander), who falls in love with the wrong woman (Helena). That leaves Hermia, Lysander's beloved, enraged and Helena confused by the attention of two suitors.
That is just the beginning of the drama.
The production is a partnership between Dallas High School's theater department and Whitworth Elementary School.
Blair Cromwell, DHS's theater teacher, said the production will feature eight fourth-graders and 21 high school actors in an abbreviated version of the play, which focuses on the humor, tricks and dreamlike quality of the beloved Shakespeare comedy.
Photo by Pete Strong
Hannah Fawcett, as queen of the fairies Titania, sets her minions to work pampering Bottom (Shawn Thornhill).
There will be seven shows for DHS's final play of the year, but six of the shows -- three on Wednesday and three on Thursday -- will be performed for other students from Dallas elementary schools, Henry Hill Elementary School in Independence, and other community groups. The Thursday evening show is the only one open to the public.
Cromwell said pairing younger students with more experienced actors gives the elementary students an opportunity to learn from older students. For some of the fourth-graders, it's the first time they have appeared in a play.
Maddie Blanchard was one of those new to acting. She joined dress rehearsal for the first time April 18, donning the wings and ears of one of the play's woodland fairies. Being her first rehearsal, she was still learning her lines and cues, but said so far she was having fun.
When asked if she was looking forward to performing in front of a crowd, Maddie said "Ehhhhh ... I'm a little nervous."
That's where senior Andrew Thornton, and a few other DHS drama students, come in. The older actors work to guide the elementary students through their roles, which may include individual or group lines. And in this case, plenty of running and sneaking around stage.
Thornton, who plays Puck, the play's ultimate trickster, is working with four of the boys who will play pranks on the play's other characters.
"This is the second year I've had four children (to work with)," he said. "It's always my favorite time of year."
Thornton equated his troupe to "The Lost Boys," for all the trouble their characters create in the play.
It's a role the boys appear to relish.
"Oh, this is very fun," said Whitworth student Reed Larson. "Just from rehearsing, I think this is my favorite play."
Thornton said the shortened version of the play and its lighthearted humor make it a great introduction to Shakespeare for the youngsters and lively entertainment for the audience.
"It's a joy to do," he said. "All of it is hilarious."