Cast members of “Midsummer/Jersey” recently completed their first full week of rehearsals at Newark High School, 625 Peirson Ave.
The fall production, directed by Emily Howard, will be performed at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12-13 in the NHS Auditorium.
“We’re off to a great start,” Howard said. “Students are also working on costumes, props, sound design, advertising and other production elements. We’re also planning to build the majority of the set soon. We had a stage combat workshop on Sept. 12 with a guest teacher from Rochester and we’re looking forward to using some of the skills we learned as we work our way through the script.
“‘Midsummer/Jersey’ is Shakespeare’s comedy ’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ set in modern time at the Jersey Shore. The play weaves four stories together: the governor planning his wedding; two sets of high school crushes running away together through the forest, or beach in our production; a group of salon workers preparing a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the governor’s wedding reception; and a jealous fairy king seeking revenge on his queen. All of these plots come together as the mischievous fairies use magic to mess with the mortals.
“I selected this piece for several reasons. First, I wanted to introduce our actors to Shakespeare, but only have a limited time to rehearse and prepare. When I found this piece, I knew it was a great fit. The playwright, Ken Ludwig, developed the script with high school actors in mind. It makes Shakespeare approachable and fun, while staying very true to the original. Ken Ludwig is one of my favorite comedic playwrights, known for his madcap farces. I’m attempting to bring in elements of a farce into our production. I have an Act One finale in mind that involves chase sequences and dance breaks.
“Second, the script allows for a very large cast. Our drama program continues to grow at Newark and I wanted to encourage lots of actors to come join the fun. We had a record number of students show up to audition. Our cast is 24 NHS students, plus a crew of eight. I am so excited to work with such a large and energetic group. ‘Midsummer/Jersey’ will be a fun night at the theater, filled with over-the-top Jersey accents, bright costumes and sets, and an enthusiastic group of actors and crew members.”
Cast members are Cody Acquista (Oberon), Natalie Acquista (Mia), Isabella Bailey (Patti Quince), Jaston Brooks (Robin [Puck]), Dylan Burley (Phillip/Oberon’s Fairy Crew), Kelsie Bushart (Student/Peaseblossom), Grace Casler (Student/Sunshine), Ben Cepulo (Nicky Bottom), Philip Collom (Rufis/Oberon’s Fairy Crew), Jack Comella (Governor/Oberon’s Fairy Crew), Bria Dano (Justine/Moonbeam), Isabelle Figueroa (Franci Flute), Cherylanne Garrett (Helene), Ryan Hermanet (Principal Platt/Oberon’s Fairy Crew), Carson Jordan (Denis), Ashton Keene (Robert Sudds), McKinley Miller (Hippolyta/Mote), Paris Morris (Janet Snug), Nadia Rothpearl (Terri Thumbs), Alex Sepulveda (Student/Oberon’s Fairy Crew), Anisha Stallworth (Titania), Deborah Szarek (Student/Cobweb), Kylar Vermeulen (Lyle) and Emma Whiting (Student/Sunflower).
“We rehearse on Mondays-Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.,” Howard said. “Different people are called each night.”
Crew members are Blake Aldrich (crew), Liberty Falevino (assistant stage manager/graphic designer) Rachel George (spotlight), Joseph Malach (sound designer), Lance Mays (sound designer), Abigail Nezelek (crew), Preston Precourt (lightboard operator) and Kayla Williams (stage manager).
Tickets at the door cost $5 for students and senior citizens, and $7 for adults.