Shakespeare’s most popular comedy will have a new look—courtesy of a “Welcome to the ’80s” theme—July 11 and 12, 7pm at The Green at the 29th Ave. Town Center in Stapleton.
“It will be ‘Welcome to the 1880s AND the 1980s,’ with steampunk costumes for the mortals and Goth costumes for the fairies,” said Eric Peterson, director and founder of Kids Theatre West and a Stapleton resident. “We’ll have New Wave music and choreography. It will be a lot of fun.”
More than half of the 27 cast members in the free production are residents of Stapleton, Park Hill or Lowry. They range in age from 5 to 60. “The cast represents a broad range of our community,” Peterson said. “They are mostly our neighbors, which brings another level of enjoyment for audiences.”
Eliana Caplan, a veteran of the Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park series, is excited to join her 11-year-old daughter, Mayan, in the cast. Caplan portrays the comical Peter Quince and Mayan will play a fairy. “When we heard the production needed both kids and adults, we decided to do it together for a lark,” the Stapleton resident said.
Sisters Ellison and Rosie Mucharsky-O’Boyle, ages 10 and 7, respectively, will be portraying fairies in the play.
Ellison, a fifth-grader at Odyssey this fall, said, “I like theatre because I like to talk a lot and I like people.”
Second-grader Rosie said, “It’s fun to be in costumes and make the audience laugh.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written in 1594 or 1595, concerns the world’s most popular pastime: falling in love. Four young lovers meet up with the inhabitants of an enchanted forest and find that “The course of true love never did run smooth,” when they are ensnared in a lovers’ quadrangle.
“You can’t resist A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Caplan. “It’s so magical and full of fun. I’ve loved Shakespeare for a long time; I love the richness of the language.”
Peterson said the authentic Elizabethan language will be used in this production, which will run about one and a half hours.
“We talk the kids through their lines so they know what they are saying,” Peterson said. “You can’t memorize lines if you don’t know what you’re saying. The language is easier for kids than for adults because kids don’t have a block about it. The kids always impress me; they always rise to the occasion.”
He said that learning Shakespeare builds kids’ vocabulary, and that theatre experience helps them develop other skills. “Kids learn to work together and commit to a project; it builds maturity. It instills the idea that hard work pays off, and that everybody is important—it doesn’t matter whether you have one line or 100 lines.”
Ellison Mucharsky-O’Boyle said, “Theatre helps me do things at school, like how to talk loud and ask good questions. It helps me get in front of people and not be embarrassed to do it.”
Peterson’s three youngest children—age 8 and 6-year-old twins—are in the production. He said working with kids can be challenging but rewarding. “With kids, the attention span isn’t always there. But it’s great because their ego is checked at the door. Often, whatever they come up with is funnier and more creative than what I come up with—whether it’s how to deliver a line or do a pratfall in a new way. They make it theirs and they own it.”
He said the productions feature individual kids’ special abilities. “We try to find every kid’s strength. Whether they are a singer, a dancer, a juggler or a gymnast, they are given their moment to shine. We play to their strengths.”
Peterson got his love for theatre at age 10 when he attended a performing arts school in Pittsburgh. “I was a class clown but I learned to channel that into something more positive,” he said.
After earning his bachelor’s in theatre and his master’s in acting, Peterson lived in Los Angeles and worked as an actor. “I supplemented my income with teaching. When we moved to Denver, I got to marry the two things I love—acting and teaching. I get to make a living doing what I’m passionate about.”
Peterson founded Kids Theatre West in 2006. The four-week camps welcome children ages 4 to 17 and meet at Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St.
Peterson owns more than 800 costume pieces and builds some of the sets in his garage and backyard. “It’s helpful in theatre if you can do everything,” he said.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being sponsored by the Stapleton Master Community Association and produced by The Three Leaches Theatre Company, which is a small Denver-based company that strongly believes theatre can and should be affordable to the masses. Peterson says, “They make sure that all of the systems are in place to make the production happen.” The Three Leaches supports local playwrights, directors, and actors—producing new and classical works on a production budget of $1000. To find out more about The Three Leaches and their upcoming season, visit www.thethreeleaches.com or visit their Facebook page.