Get ready to slip into the sultry Tuscan night and cool forests of Monte De Athens with director Karen Thibodeau, The Taos Children's Theatre and Taos Youth Ballet.
Thibodeau and her precocious tribe of young thespians harness the magic of Shakespeare in a spellbinding production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Saturday (July 14) at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday (July 15) at 1 p.m. at The Taos Community Auditorium 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
Written by William Shakespeare 400 years ago, the play is a look at love and its vagaries and is one of his most popular works. Taos actors in leading roles include Siena Price as Puck, Bakhane Chandler as Oberon, Coleridge Williams as Bottom and Kamaeli Leon as Helena.
Leon describes her character as "a girl who loves a boy, Demetrius, and so he doesn't really like her, but in the end, he does." Leon added the play is "a very mystical-magical play with fairies and cohorts … and Shakespeare is hard to memorize, but once you get into it you can understand it."
Eight-year-old dancer, actor and singer Angelina Reeve plays Bluebell, one of six fairies in the production. She said she loves the rehearsal process and is looking forward to performing "The Lantern Dance "with the other fairies. Reeve continued "even though we fairies fight sometimes, it's just random stuff."
Siena Price plays Puck also known as Robin Goodfellow, based on the ancient figure of Puck found in English mythology. Puck is a clever, mischievous fairy, sprite or jester that personifies the wise knave. The 9-year-old Price said she loves this character because she's always moving. She's got a costume, and "we get to be mischievous and throw paper airplanes."
Twelve-year-old senior thespian of TCT, Coleridge Williams is a stage veteran performing his first role when he was a spirited 4-year-old. His current character, Bottom, provides comic relief throughout the play.
A weaver by trade, he is mostly known for getting his head transformed into that of a donkey by the elusive Puck. Williams said his character "is very enthusiastic and likes to take all the roles.
He likes to think it's all about him and he always thinks there is an audience." Thibodeau has been helping him hone his enunciation and projection skills, which Wiliams is eager to show off in the performance.
Thibodeau takes the bones of this classic script and expands the roles to fit the cast as needed. In this production, Duke Theseus, played by Steve Moser, announces that he will marry Hippolyta played by Shanti Jones, the Amazon queen, on the solstice or midsummer's eve. The Duke announces festivities to celebrate the day, including a play chosen by him.
Shakespeare's script centers on a troupe of rustic actors who are rehearsing such a play to celebrate the duke and duchess on their wedding day. These players are craftsmen: a weaver, a furniture maker, a seamstress, a tinker and more, who are very bad actors.
And this is the joy of this play, to see these clowns overacting. The troupe is portrayed by MairiJane Cook, Bo Summers and Ashlee Martínez. Their director is Peter Quince, played by Christopher Heron.
The chief actor in the play-within-a-play is Nick Bottom, a coveted role among actors. The play they are rehearsing is "Pyramus and Thisbe," which is a satire of "Romeo and Juliet," the saga of star-crossed lovers who both die at the end of the play. Bottom (Williams) plays Pyramus, and Francis Flute (Theo Blaustein) plays Thisbe.
Two bands of fairies are also part of this play's havoc: The fairies of the dawn headed by their Queen Titania played by Mariebella Duran and the sprites, and knaves of the night headed by their King Oberon. Puck belongs to this last group.
Titania has a changeling child (Leila Mayer), which is a human child raised by the fairies, so she can go between the worlds. Oberon wants that child and threatens Titania with all disruption and spells if she won't give it to him.
Several changeling children are featured with their mothers in a Knaves and Sprites dance, which includes three-year-old Grayson (Amber Vasquez's son), 2-year-old Paloma Bernhardt, and Sonja Mayer and her daughter little Leila.
Oberon discovers the Players rehearsing in the forest and plays a joke on Titania. He enchants Bottom, giving him a donkey's head, and makes him fall in love with Queen Titania. Then he also enchants Titania, so she falls in love with the donkey-headed man.
Titania's fairy band includes enchanting fairies named Peaseblossom (Iolani Saiz ), Mustardseed (Liana Schreiber), Moth (Amelie Blaustein), Cobweb (Ojala Gottschau) and Bluebell (Angelina Reeve) who wait upon Bottom as the donkey-headed man with adoration, offering him "apricots and dewberries."
The magic of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" never goes away. "This is the sixth time I have directed this play," Thibodeau said. "I love it so much. It enchants me every time all over again."
Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and teens, and $5 for youth 12 and under. They are available at (575) 758-2052 or at the box office at the time of performance.