Musical company

James River Theater Company brings a Mardi Gras vibe to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. The fantasy of four lovers bewitched by fairies first appeared around 1596.

Fast forward to this month, and there’s a fresh, celebratory take on this classic tale at the James River Theater Company.

“We are doing something very different with Midsummer. We take 21 roles and whittle it down to eight actors,” says James River Theater co-founder Maggie Quick.

A condensed cast and constant costume changes add to the chaotic feel of the show. The original story takes place in the court of Athens and the surrounding forest.

This production transports Shakespeare’s characters to New Orleans.

“Our director, she staged the play in the 1920s, so it’s already chaotic and there’s already a lot of rejoicing, but then she staged it at Mardi Gras,” says Christina Crouch , co-founder of the James River Theatre.

It’s also presented as theater in the round–very Shakespearian.

“With that, we have curtains in Mardi Gras colors that cover every section, so it’s almost like you’re in a circus tent. So it’s also very chaotic and joyful, and it’s just full of joy,” Crouch says.

They say the director chose the Mardi Gras setting to give “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” a chaotic and whimsical raison d’etre.

Mardi Gras gems, beads and sequins make the perfect backdrop.

The more she researched 1920s Mardi Gras, the more she found it fit the different themes she wanted each character to have as well,” Quick says.

The James River Theater Company is a professional theater that primarily presents classical plays.

Its co-founders think this production will appeal even to viewers who aren’t necessarily big fans of The Bard.

“A lot of people said, ‘I’ve seen Midsummer before, but I got it this time,'” Crouch says.

The James River Theater Company presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at La Vida Coffee & Market in Lynchburg and runs through Sunday, February 27. The shows take place at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Click here for ticket information.

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