Shakespeare comedy amazes audience, cast alike

December 2, 2010 Feature Print Print
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It wasn’t a cast of thousands, but even a cast of dozens is large for a theater production on campus. Such was the case for OCCC’s rendition of the William Shakespeare comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Professor Brent Noel.

After the Nov. 19 performance, several of the performers and audience members commented on the play.

“I love Shakespeare,” said Hollie Clear, an OCCC graduate who was in the audience that night.

“The set and the modernization of the costumes were really impressive. I love the stage chemistry that all the actors had. They have an amazing group of students playing each part.”

Some costumes in the play, like the flowing fairy outfits, were coated in glitter, with each fairy having her own color.

The cast of 24 had a variety of majors since auditions are open to all OCCC students. English, mathematics, biology, graphic communications, and psychology were some of the degree progams represented.

Philip Aken, a psychology major playing Nick Bottom, has been in several productions on campus. His character was the comical townsman who was transformed into a donkey.

When he entered the scene after being transformed into the beast of burden, all the characters were frightened by his appearance except for the beautiful queen of fairies, who fell deeply in love with him from the effect of a love potion. Aken’s ridiculous persona left the audience laughing throughout the play.

“It doesn’t matter what your major is,” he said. “You can always do theater. Our assistant director, and one of the actresses, is a math major.”

The cast practiced every day and broke up into groups to manage the cast size.

“I was working with 24 different egos and having to manage different class schedules,” said Noel, who teaches drama.

“Working with a large cast was crazy,” said Gabriel Pranter, who played Lysander, the hopeless romantic of the play that falls in love with Hermia. “We had to do lots of practice every day with long hours.”

The stage was designed to represent a simplified version of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater that was built in London in 1599. The enormous set piece had stairs backstage that gave the cast the ability to project their lines out of a second floor window.

“It is huge and all the lights are basically off backstage so you had to really be careful walking around because there are stairs that go up to the top,” said Rachael Barry, who played Helena, one of the four lovers in the play. She was desperately lovesick chasing Demetrius. At the end of the production, the actors were thrilled by the outcome.

“It was very wonderful being around friends you know, seeing all the great audiences that come to see you and having a good time during the production,” said Rick Beavers, who played Theseus. Beavers character, Theseus, was the duke of Athens who represented order and power in the play.

Aken said he would like to see more students attend the plays. “I would like to see the entire school turn out,” he said. “That would be awesome.”

The first play of next semester will be “The Trojan Women.” The play is a Greek tragedy that represents the difficulties and hardships of women at the end of the Trojan War. Auditions will be open toward the last week of classes. Prior to each production, fliers are posted on the bulletin boards encouraging all students to try out.

For more information regarding future plays, e-mail Noel at bnoel@occc.edu or call 405-682-1611, ext. 7246.

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