Shelton theater group brings Shakespeare online
SHELTON — During this time of social distancing, Valley Shakespeare Festival is meeting its mission of bringing theater to the masses, in any way possible.
Valley Shakespeare Festival (VSF) will be providing a virtual live performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream on Tuesday, May 5, at 7 p.m. The audience will be allowed and encouraged to interact with the cast through chat features on YouTube. Watch live and interact with the show at youtube.com/user/VSFestival.
“Like many other regional theaters, our 2020 season was blown apart by this pandemic,” said Tom Simonetti, VCF founder and artistic director. “We started looking for ways that we could serve our communities that were hit hard: The lower Naugatuck Valley and arts community. So of course, a comedy about mythic fairies, two sets of lovers, and an eager troupe of performers seemed perfect.”
Midsummer Night’s Dream is about young lovers Hermia and Lysander, kept apart by strict Athenian law, who escape to the woods where tyrannical parents cannot find them — but mischief can. Elsewhere among the trees, the fairy king and queen are having a marital spat with disastrous consequences for one Nick Bottom.
“Rediscover your favorite characters in a lively virtual production of midsummer romance and magic,” said Simonetti.
The performance is free, with organizers suggesting a $10 donation during the Great Give.
“That is right, the virtual performance is happening during the annual Great Give, a 36-hour online giving event hosted by the Valley Community Foundation and Community Foundation for Greater New Haven,” said Simonetti.
“The Great Give is such an important time for nonprofits in the Lower Naugatuck Valley, especially in harder times,” added Simonetti, “The Great Give is where all gifts are matched by the Valley Community Foundation, the Greater New Haven Community Foundation and by local businesses.”
This live virtual performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream will also include live music. Renowned cellist Natalie Sephar, who has toured the world with Andrea Bocelli, Micheal Buble and the Transiberian Orchestra, will be performing between scenes and playing the mischievous fairy, Puck.
“I presented the idea of doing Midsummer online to a few original cast members from our 2015 Free Shakespeare in the Park production, and they were excited for the challenge,” said Simonetti.
Simonetti said the performance will also feature some festival favorites, including Jessica Breda (who originally played the Fairy Queen Titania for VSF in 2015), Mitchell Kawash (toured in Pericles, and featured in many Shakespeare in the Bar productions), Tara Salese (who originally played Hermia), and Adam Kezel (The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing and Shakespeare in the Bar: Titus Andronicus).
VSF is now rearranging its season because of the COVID-19 crisis and is working with the city of Shelton to move its annual free Shakespeare in the Park production to early September.