“Midsummer” Tales: Meet the Fairies!
As Titania the Fairy Queen, Jacquelyn Ritz has a very clear idea of the role she plays in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Musical.
“I like to think of the fairies as Greek gods,” she says.
Her fellow magical misfits agree with her. Occupying the forest throne alongside Jacquelyn sits David McBean as Oberon the Fairy King. Kevin Hafso-Koppman rounds out the fairy trifecta with his gymnastic portrayal of Puck in this Shakespearean classic, reimagined by Intrepid through the sounds of the 60s.
“They are super human beings with super human powers,” elaborates David. “Since the fairies have such power, they seek destruction in a way that’s different from humans. These things that occur in their lives become so much more important to them. And the results of their feelings affect the entire world.”
The main source of fairy angst is Titania’s adoption of a changeling boy, which infuriates Oberon. Titania’s refusal to hand over the boy further stokes Oberon’s fury, inspiring vengeance in the form of a flowery love potion forcing Titania to fall “head over wings” for a Bottom, a Mechanical metamorphosed into a donkey.
“Oberon has no power directly over her, so he can’t change her,” David explains.
And where does trickster Puck fit into this struggle?
“Puck has his foot in both camps – the real world and the fairy world,” says Kevin, elaborating on Puck’s ability to maneuver and help manipulate both the fairy royals and the lost lovers running through the forest. “The whole story and the whole dream are Puck’s flip of the world.”
From this fairy’s perspective, things are certainly topsy-turvy – the human lovers succumb to the magical spells of things supernatural, while the magical monarchs are reduced to petty humanlike spats and acts of retribution.
“I don’t think it’s petty,” chimes in Jacquelyn. “But I’m Titania, so I have to feel that way,” she adds with a smile.
Another topsy-turvy aspect of this Intrepid’s Midsummer revival is the casting. Both David and Kevin were featured in the 2012 production, but in vastly different roles: David played the Mechanical Flute and garnered rave reviews for his “play-within-a-play” Thisbe, while Kevin soared from rope swings as the lover Lysander.
Opportunely, Kevin is able to incorporate this gymnastic ability into Puck.
“This time around we are getting a lot more physical with the role because we are discovering some different things,” he says. “It’s difficult because the last person did something that was so brilliant and so funny and you want to take those little things and put them into your performance, but also create your own thing.“
For Kevin, that “thing” has translated into the construction of a trapeze atop Puck’s perch center stage, from which he is able to incorporate his athletic approach to his heart’s content.
For David, the return to Midsummer also included a role as musical director.
“This time around, I get to be a part of the moments where music adds to the storytelling,” says David. “It’s been a treat for me to be a part of the show in an intimate way and to help the new actors learn the songs. They are so clever and remarkable. It’s been an honor to be directing them.”
For Jacquelyn, who recently relocated from Chicago and is making her San Diego debut with Intrepid, the infusion of music into this play just makes sense.
“Music is a great bridge from this world to something higher,” she says. “When you mix that with Shakespeare, which is another way of taking this world and elevating it through poetry, it just heightens it.”
However, this “heightening” does not serve to exclude the audience from their understanding of the play. In fact, it does just the opposite.
“The music clarifies the relationships,” explains Jacquelyn. “People who maybe don’t know Shakespeare as well, still know music. We know songs, we know how we feel when we are singing to someone else or someone is singing to us. It makes more of a connection.”
These fairies are in flight through August 18. Come see them rock the forest and find your own musical connection.
— Tiffany Tang
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Musical plays through August 18 at the Clayton E. Liggett Theatre in Encinitas. Tickets available here.
(Photo credits: Daren Scott)