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NY1 Theater Review: "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

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Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company is offering up a new production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" featuring stage and screen star Bebe Neuwirth and film star Christina Ricci. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

It's Shakespeare meets the "Glee" set. This latest incarnation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in modern dress is a high energy attempt to spice up the age-old classic with some dumbing down. It's a bold effort by The Classic Stage Company and occasionally succeeds, but me-thinks they overdid it.

It's a very eclectic cast including stage veterans both uptown and down along with a young star and some lesser known performers. Together they comprise a hodge podge of varying talents and abilities.

The vets include Bebe Neuwirth and Anthony Heald cast in the dual roles as mortals Theseus and Hipployta and fairies Oberon and Titania. They're joined by downtown favorites David Greenspan and Taylor Mac who put their their own unique spin on the action. Film actress Christina Ricci is Hermia who gets lost in the enchanted forest alongside a buff trio playing love-struck Lysander, Helena and Demetrius.

The production design with its clever use of a mirrored back wall and falling rose petals is an asset. And speaking of assets - Steven Skybell as the swell headed Nick Bottom stands out.

The accent in this production is contemporary. Director Tony Speciale's vision aims for accessibility, and the humor is derived more from silliness than comic finesse. And so we get some wild costumes and characters cavorting about in their underwear adding modern references like "skinny jeans" and "ukulele" to the text. Not a bad idea and they sure do look great, but their iambic pentameters aren't all that hot. And that gives the show an unfortunate amateurish quality.

It's LOL funny at times but by the end it all degenerates into a mixed bag of silly hijinks. I just wish there was more method to the madness.

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