For the first time ever, a professional Shakespeare performance will unfold Jan. 19-29 at The Studios of Key West‘s rooftop theater, Hugh’s View.
Director Richard Ericson has reimagined (and shortened) the bard’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (one act, no intermission) as the first of many projects he envisions for Key West with his producing and life partner of 38 years, Louis Raymond.
The pair, who moved to Key West in 2019, formed Watson, Please Productions “to create and then sustain professional theater that brings a brighter future closer for both arts organizations and the communities they move, serve and ultimately transform,” Raymond said.
Rehearsals are ongoing for the upcoming “Midsummer” production and its limited eight- night run from Jan. 19-29.
Five actors will double and triple as Shakespeare’s characters in the production, Raymond said. Titania, Oberon, Puck, Bottom and Quince will be played by the company, who will also manipulate and give voice to eight puppet-creatures, ranging from life-size to diminutive, including an interactive flying Cupid.
“Multi-tasking will be the job, magic the result,” he said.
Ericson noted, “Working on Will’s 16th-century comedy has been fun and it’s given me huge hope that we’ll not only survive our collective hurdles, but also find a little enchantment and self-knowledge along the way.
“When I first discussed ‘Midsummer’ with The Studios’ former board president Steve Kitsakos, I hadn’t read the play in years. I was thrilled to rediscover, among other things, Titania’s concerns for our planet, where the seasons have become so indistinguishable that we ‘know(s) not which is which.’
“Even so, Shakespeare’s play is a comedy, as if to reassure us that, even 500 years later, we too will live through our current angst to tell the tale again.
“Please laugh, please cry — and please discuss the show over good food and drink in the days to come. After all, it is for all time.”
Ericson and Raymond are producing this “Midsummer” in association with The Studios of Key West.
The 75-minute production is staged in the sky, with a vista across the rooftops of Old Town. In addition to the quick-change cast of five – Vanessa McCaffrey, Lisa Hardwicke, Iain Wilcox, Gil Parker Jr. and Ray West – it will feature the creations of master puppet designer, ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Goltz.
“Our goal with this production of ‘Midsummer’ is to treat audiences to something they’ve likely not seen before,” said Ericson, who has directed and produced plays and musicals on and off-Broadway, nationally and internationally for over 40 years. “Jeff Goltz is a gifted artist, and the puppets he’s created for this show perfectly embody the magic, passion and comedy needed to do justice to the poetry of the Bard.”
“I’ve so enjoyed the Key West theater scene over the past few years, and I’m excited to play a more active role with this production,” continued Ericson. “It’s an absolute joy to work with the island’s talent and to push the envelope in new and unexpected ways.”
Performances are at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday evenings, Jan. 19-29 at Hugh’s View, 533 Eaton St. Tickets are $80 front row, $60, $50 for members, and are extremely limited. Visit tskw.org or call 305-296-0458 for more information.