All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Anson Rutherford, a student at Teens and Theatre Homeschool Program , reviews “Ken Ludwig’s Midsummer/Jersey” performed by Robinson Secondary School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .
“Jersey Shore” and Shakespeare rarely share each other’s company, but in “Ken Ludwig’s Midsummer/Jersey”, the two fit together perfectly. This bizarre farce, written with high school students in mind, was brought to life by Robinson Secondary School’s electrifying production.
Robinson’s production marked the world premiere of Broadway playwright Ken Ludwig’s newest play. The show parodies “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, retaining the majority of the plot, but supplanting a few features with references to popular culture. Four lovers, Lyle, Cookie, Denis, and Helene, are all caught up in a love square, and chase after one another to a New Jersey boardwalk. At the boardwalk, fairies are trying to cope with a spat between Oberon and Titania, their king and queen. Meanwhile, The Mechanicals, a group of wanna-be actors decide to hold their first rehearsal at the boardwalk as well. The three groups run into each other and chaos ensues.
The cast was filled with commitment and exuberance. Ethan Malamud exhibited great machismo as Lyle Fagioli, as he sauntered about the stage in his leather jacket and greased hair. He managed to remain dumb the few times he quoted the original Shakespearian text, ascribing the words to incorrect sources or wondering at his own profoundness. Mia “Cookie” DiCarlo was played by Gabby Rojtman, whose shortness and indignant expressions fit her character well. The comparative tallness of Helene, played by Emily Rowson, made their fight scene all the funnier. Rowson portrayed her character’s sour disappointment, while remaining relatable and endearing.
Adam Bradley displayed intense comedic energy as Puck, Oberon’s gleeful assistant. He was constantly doing his best to keep the audience laughing, and jumped, flipped and twirled around the stage with undying enthusiasm. Even in his less wild moments, his physicality created laughs, and his commitment to his role was admirable. Dan Barr provided contrast to Puck’s antics as Oberon, the calm and quiet Fairy King. His controlled tone and questioning behavior off set the rest of the cast’s more rowdy nature, lending his character presence and authority.
All the technical aspects fit together to create a bright and vivid whole. The main boardwalk set spanned the entire stage. Stairs led down from it onto a central area, and a large trash heap was visible behind the supports of the raised bridge, completing this authentic setting. The few set changes that did occur were remarkably efficient, despite being done in the dark. A light was used to represent the moon during the night, and several flashy lighting effects were used to represent the fairies’ magic. These were often accompanied by sound effects, and together the two created the illusion that some sort of sorcery was at work. The fairies wore painted wings on their backs, which were evocative, and beautifully detailed.
“Jersey Shore” and Shakespeare may not seem like the best fit, but Robinson Secondary School’s performance made the two appear inseparable. The combination of the burlesque nature of the show, the infectious energy of the cast, and the brightness of the show’s tech, created a vibrant and memorable experience.