Black Hills High School Theatre presents its 2016 fall play, Midsummer Jersey, at the BHHS Performing Arts Center for four nights only from November 2nd to 5th after six weeks of preparations and rehearsals.
In a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s much-beloved classic, Midsummer Jersey combines traditional verse with pedestrian dialogue and pop culture references, borrowing elements from both Elizabethan England and today’s culture to make the outrageous comedy more accessible to modern audiences. Black Hills High School theatre teacher and director Dave Heywood calls the production “a contemporary story about contemporary teenagers”, one he chose in order to bring something “lighter” to the student body after the more serious fall shows that have been put on over the last three years.
The play follows a convoluted story involving teenage love, fairy mischief, and a troupe of beauticians-turned-actors on the Jersey Shore, using fast-paced humor and upbeat dance numbers to create a high-energy performance sure to entertain all audiences.
Acknowledging the importance of Shakespearean literature to Western culture, Nolan Harris, a senior and eleven-show veteran of Black Hills High School theatre, encourages students to come see the “parody” production, claiming that “you get the same information and the same themes” present in Shakespeare’s original work, but in a manner that is more “fun”.
With a cast of twenty-five students, many of whom are first-time performers with Black Hills, Midsummer Jersey poses various challenges for the theatre department. First-time stage managers Kimberly Perry and Vivian Jones cite the “learn as you go” manner of their experience navigating the ropes from backstage, including coordinating costumes and props for the production. Four-year light technician Madeline Krysinski will be “running the lights” for each performance by herself, as many of the regular light and sound technicians cannot be present for the fall play. The set itself also holds difficulties, calling for the stage to be transformed into a New Jersey beach and boardwalk. Finding a method to simulate sand in a way that will minimize clean-up, according to director Heywood, has been a particularly perplexing question for the crew.
In spite of the hurdles the production has placed in front of the theatre department, Midsummer Jersey can be expected to continue Black Hills’ long tradition of bringing high-quality theatre to the Tumwater community.
By Gabby Connors