Welcome to the time machine! The North Crawford Players will lift and bend your spirit from Elizabethan England in 1590 to Hollywood in 1934 then on to 2003 and the opening of the original play, as you sit in your seat this March weekend of 2013. You are about to be transported through a fast, funny, entertaining production of ‘Shakespeare in Hollywood.’
Walk into the playhouse to find the stage set for magic and adventure. To the left, a sparkling collage of the cameras, posters, and glitz of Hollywood movie making. To the right, a majestic colonnade surrounded by an enchanted forest of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream. Lights, camera, action and the fun begins.
Play begins with video
Director Rob Ghormley introduces the action with a You Tube video trailer from the original 1935 movie directed by Max Reinhardt and the famous actors from the past appear in black and white on the screen: Dick Powell, James Cagney, Joe E. Brown. Moments later, they appear before us with Jared Smith as Powell, Tyler Finnell as Cagney, and Elan Martin as the character actor of Joe E. Brown. Before you know it, time has shifted and you are caught up in a delicious mix of time and space that will knock you socks off.
North Crawford Playhouse Director Rob Ghormley is moved aside by his own son Dylan Ghormley as movie director Max Reinhardt and Zoe Peters as his lovely wife Ava Reinhardt. They have come to America from Austria where they tell us in a Austrian dialect that the “Nazis are killink people!”
But movies cost money. A lot of money as Warner producer Jack Warner, played by Tyler Steyer, informs us. “Movies - Money. Money - Movies. They both begin with “M”.
Warner’s voluptuous girlfriend Lydia Lansing, is played by Rowan Williamson, comes forward to describe herself with one short line.
“I am a slut,” Lansing informs us. She goes on to say “People love Shaking Spear.”
Warner and Lydia are fantastic, and even though they have problems producing the movie in the play at hand, they have no problem producing laughter from deep in your gut throughout the evening.
Next, you are enchanted by the appearance of eight sprightly, pretty and downright cute fairies: Jordon Finnell, Sydney Williams, Riley Chellevold, Kylie Heisz, Martha Bransky, Faith Morga, Lily Price and Brennah Ghormley. They magically appear center stage in an ethereal haze. The costumes wave and flutter in the light of innocent faces under the commanding presence of the King of the Fairy World, Oberon, played with all the grace and voice of a master by Jerrid McDaniel.
Oberon falls in love with the pretty presence of Olivia Darnell, played by Sheri Schwert. It is a love that is doomed as you shall witness.
Oh, and then appears and disappears Puck. Dear, zany, mystic, naughty Puck. Yes. Puck will vanish in thin air through a trick of stagecraft. You will never know it, but there are two Pucks placed to accomplish the startling illusion. Amber Weihert and Rosa Thill weave and wind their way through your heart and tickle your fancy.
The haze that gave birth to Oberon and the fairies dissipates to leave us with an entirely different Hays - the three Hays sisters Winona, (Elizabeth Paczok) Wilma (Riley Barlow), and Willa (Jeannie Wollschlager). They appear in their long sleek gowns, seeking to end the production that they believe is indecent and vile.
The stage is set for comedy and conflict, filled with smoke and mirrors, man eating monsters, and a swirl of light and magic that you might expect to discover on a professional stage in Milwaukee or Chicago. The “light dance” at the top of Act 2, is too special to give away, so see it for yourself. You will “trip the lights fantastic” in a professional quality extravaganza performed by Eloise Williamson, Mickaila Perry, Lyrica Marks, Christine Sobek and Lysianne Peacock. A little hint: you will not even see the actors as they transport you to another world.
Another thrilling evening at the North Crawford Playhouse, and walking on the slick sidewalk back to the car, I can only think what a gift the evening has been. The North Crawford Players organization is a wonderful anomaly of magic in the world of theater. If you look at subject categories on the internet; on “Facebook” or “Stumbleupon,” you will not even find a subject-head for “theater.” I am deeply grateful that the last hour-and-a-half of witnessing the production of ‘Shakespeare in Hollywood’ has proven that theater is alive and well in Crawford County…no it is more than alive and well, it is booming. Don’t miss the bang.