William Shakespeare's most enchanting creation, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is about whimsy, romance, hilarity and magic.
In a green grove out of a fairy tale, lit by sparkling lights in the gardens and trees, Haleakala Waldorf School's 7th-grade production of the comedy last weekend felt like enchantment on steroids.
Ambitiously directed by teacher Jeannette Milholland, in costumes that looked like etchings out of leather-bound children's classics, the staging took full advantage of the outdoor setting - part garden, part forest - as pastel dusk faded into night.
ANGELO RENE JACQUES photo
Haleakala Waldorf School’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” cast includes Justin Fernandez (from left), Cloe Adams, Lindsey Hobson, Jesse Dukes, Coco Wagner and Ella Harter-Friedman.
The play's well-known characters range from bumpkins and tinkers through the royal court of Athens to the realm of a fairy king and queen and their various sprites. Set in a single evening, the plot weaves a complicated web snaring humans and spirits alike. Surprises abound.
The biggest surprise turned out to be the eagerness of the 7th-graders to embrace the material. Memorizing lines is daunting enough; finding the meaning in Shakespeare's Elizabethan language, then adding the nuances to make it sing, often caused the audience to forget just how young the actors were.
Bounding onto the terraced stage area or leaping offstage into nearby trees, the actors uncovered one more magic place Shakespeare hadn't intended. Because the cast was so young, the performance brimmed with a boundless if fragile energy, like the jacaranda trees surrounding the Haleakala campus. They blossom that indescribable purple for these few glorious weeks, before the petals drop.
The kids' performances were like the jacarandas, making childhood itself feel like a dream before morning comes.
Sabrina Futch, Zoe Harrelson, Colton Cowell and Justin Ringsby hit just the right tone as the young lovers at the center of the story, literally bewitched by love's spells. Jasmine Deany turned Puck's mischief into something more innocent and sweet. Jeremy Elder's finesse made the most of Nick Bottom's comic misfortunes.
Kyla Pinkard, Lily Telford, Mikela Wesson, Lionel Mills, Cloe Adams and Denvie Henry were regal and royal in human and fairy realms. Fairies Ella Harter-Friedman, Jesse Dukes, Coco Wagner, Lindsy Hobson, Jade Titus and Bailey Young along with coveted "Indian boy" Justin Fernandez added music to their spellbinding.
The "Rustics" performing their play within the play - Arianna Adabachi, Linden Janes, Rosie Kulhavy-Sutherland, Elliot Bronick and Christy Fell along with Elder, got guffaws with their comic timing.
But singling out individual performances loses sight of the synergy the 7th-graders created together.
There was fearlessness in their encounter with the Bard, a lack of guile or pretense that added new steps to the dance, new sweetness to the poetry, an innocent sense of wonder and delight that would have brought a smile to Shakespeare himself.