WESTERLY — There will be some sweet surprises and lovely variations in this year's Shakespeare in the Park offering from The Colonial Theatre of Rhode Island.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," Shakespeare's perennially popular five-act comedy featuring plenty of faeries and characters — like Puck; Theseus, Duke of Athens; Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons; Helena; Quince; Snout; Bottom the weaver and the bickering fairy King Oberon and Queen Titiana — has a little bit of everything: unrequited love, rivalry, magic, fairies fighting like humans and humans fighting like beasts of the forest.
Stonington native Nora Fox will play two parts; Puck and Philostrate, and Westerly native Marion Markham, who has starred in a number of Colonial productions over the last 26 years, will play the part of Quince.
Michael Scholar Jr., the founding artistic producer of November Theatre in Vancouver, who makes his directorial debut with the production, will bring an element of surprise and his daughter with him.
Scholar has plenty of experience with "A Midsummer Night's Dream," according to Alana Rader, Colonial's co-artistic director of education who plays the role of Helena in the show. The play is the reason Scholar got into the theater more than 30 years ago back in Regina, Canada, where he was born and raised.
"When he was a boy, his dad directed him in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and he played the role of the Changeling Child, the character at the center of the fight between the celestial parents Oberon and Titania," Rader said. "Now Michael is directing his own six-year-old daughter to play the Changeling Child in certain performances."
The changeling child, typically off-stage in the play, is seen as a puppet in some productions, and often not at all, Rader explained. But the Colonial production will continue the director's tradition.
"Michael's daughter even wears the same jacket he wore thirty-plus years ago," Rader added with a laugh.
In addition, she added, Scholar directs the classic Shakespearean comedy by telling it through the eyes of a child.
"He adds a twist," she said, "giving it sort of a fairy tale element."
Think Maurice Sendak's "Where The Wild Things Are," when the animals come from the woods come in through the child’s bedroom, she said.
Raders said the play will also feature live, original music, with many of the cast members playing their own instruments, Markham will play accordion and guitar for instance.
"It's a really strong and talented cast," said Rader, "and it's a really magical production."
A Green Show will take place before every main stage performance, featuring a variety of musical and theatrical performances.
Refreshments, merchandise, and tickets for a raffle full of prizes from local merchants and vendors will also be for sale. Opening night is Friday, Aug. 2, with a preview performance tonight.