DELAWARE, OHIO – The Ohio Wesleyan University Departments of Music and Theatre & Dance will begin their 2012-2013 seasons with a lavish production of “The Fairy Queen,” adapted from William Shakespeare’s comedic romance, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and featuring music by Henry Purcell.
First performed in London in 1692, “The Fairy Queen” is an early English form of the musical. It uses courtly masque conventions (vocal and musical performances along with dance and spectacle) to tell its tale—complete with layers of meaning and extravagant effects. Ohio Wesleyan’s performance will include theatrical rigging that will allow characters to fly.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Nov. 2, 3, 9, and 10, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 on the Main Stage of Chappelear Drama Center, 45 Rowland Ave., on the Ohio Wesleyan campus.
Purcell’s glorious music is well-known in the classical music world and is a fitting match to Shakespeare’s timeless classical theatre. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” utilized several songs in its original version, and the music is expanded greatly in this fully mounted adaptation.
“The unique work uses music to introduce and accompany the theatrical goings-on and dance sequences, as well as to provide delightful opportunities for vocal solo work,” said Ohio Wesleyan theatre professor D. Glen Vanderbilt Jr., M.F.A., who will direct the play and designed its stage scenery.
“The Fairy Queen” tells the well-known story of lovers who flee a forced betrothal only to find themselves in a magical forest inhabited by fairies, led by Titania (the Fairy Queen) and Oberon (the Fairy King), and aided by his impish assistant, Puck. Confusion reigns when a group of rustic workers come to the forest to rehearse a play. Bottom, a weaver, is transformed into a part-donkey man, and Titania is tricked into falling in love with him. But everything works out well, and the play concludes with an elaborate court spectacle featuring music, dance, and the hilarious comic mini-play “Pyramus & Thisbe” in a celebration of love and marriage.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to experience a classic of the music and the theatre worlds,” said Vanderbilt, who has edited and customized the text for the Ohio Wesleyan stage. “The scale of the work makes it one that is rarely attempted.”
The cast and crew will include nearly 75 Ohio Wesleyan students, with an additional 19 players in the orchestra, Vanderbilt said. Support in the pit will feature local, professional musicians who specialize on baroque instruments, along with Ohio Wesleyan faculty and students.
Musical direction is by assistant professor of music Jason Hiester, Ph.D.; choreography is by assistant professor of dance Marin Leggat, M.F.A.; costume design is by Jacqueline Shelley, M.FA.; and lighting design is by guest-artist Robert Johnson, M.F.A., of Westerville. The stage manager is Ohio Wesleyan student Margaret Knecht, a junior from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The special rigging and training needed to allow actors to fly is being provided by Louisville, Ky.-based ZFX (Zealous Flying Effects).
Hiester said the music adds to the richness of the production, helping to sweep theatre-goers into the play’s spell.
“The Fairy Queen has some of the most incredibly sublime music from the 17th century,” said Hiester, who teaches voice and conducting, and directs Ohio Wesleyan’s opera and choral programs. “This is a rare treat for all music and theatre lovers.”
This production will be the first to take full advantage of a new dimming system recently installed in Chappelear Drama Center. The system, made possible by contributions from Ohio Wesleyan alumni, features state-of-the-art digital connectivity and control of more than 400 dimmers.
To reserve tickets for Ohio Wesleyan’s production of “The Fairy Queen,” call the Department of Theatre & Dance at (740) 368-3855 from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reservations are strongly recommended. Ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $5 for Ohio Wesleyan employees, non-OWU students, and senior citizens. Admission is free for Ohio Wesleyan students with a valid ID courtesy of a grant from the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.