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Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville

FOOTHILLS COMMUNITY PLAYERS SHOW FUN SIDE IN “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”

Puck, played by Mark Jennings, appears eager to help his master Oberon on stage.

Puck, played by Mark Jennings, appears eager to help his master Oberon on stage.

Catch it while you can—Foothill Community Players’ rendition of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has already played for two weekends but can be seen in its final production at the 4th Annual Clayton Center for the Arts Theatre Festival, which will take place this weekend, Aug. 1-3.

Opening July 11 and showing for two weekends in the Ronald and Linda Nutt Theatre at Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts, the play showcased the talent of both new and returning cast members for FCP.

“This is my first FCP production,” Jordan Phillips, who plays Lysander, said. “It’s great! I’m really liking it. It has a great director and stage manager. They stay on point all the time, but they also have fun with it. It’s like what a director should be.”

“I’ve done several shows with FCP now, and, as always, working with this group of people has been amazing,” Chase Condrone, who plays Demetrius, said. “The chemistry between the cast and the general camaraderie has really made it a wonderful experience.”

With a notable turnout for the first two weekends’ performances, the classical Shakespeare drama took place on the largest stage at the CCA for audiences to fully experience the timeless story. Director Nicci Grigsby and Stage Manager Libby Pemberton headed the summertime production.

THE MIDSUMMER STORY

Shakespeare’s famous story follows the confusion of young love, both the unrequited and returned, as Hermia (Martina Junod), Lysander (Phillips), Helena (Marlee Simmons), and Demetrius (Condrone) encounter elements unknown in a magical wood. With the meddling of fairies and magical foliage, “love” spreads through previously resolved hearts and even touches upon an “ass-headed” thespian whose donkey face elicited laughter from audiences.

“Lysander is so awesome,” Phillips said of his character. “Over rehearsal and stuff, my idea of him has changed, honestly. At first, it was like this punk kid who was like, ‘I’m gonna steal your daughter, we’re gonna go to the forest, and I’m gonna seduce her probably, and then we’re gonna go somewhere else and live somewhere and it’ll be great.’ But now, it’s like this kid who is super in love with this girl, and he doesn’t understand why her father does not agree with him. And I feel like because he doesn’t care what her father thinks of him—he just doesn’t care!—that’s why her father hates him. It’s almost like Lysander is a happy badass. He’s a badass, but he’s still happy about it.”

Phillips’ character, however, was not the only one with expressive emotions in the show. While Hermia (Junod) moans at her lover’s desertion for Helena (Simmons), Demetrius (Condrone) and Titania (Jessie Holder) must cope with changed affections for new love interests as the result of a magical flower’s power and a mischievous trickster’s (Mark Jennings) schemes.

“It was really sad when I had to fake beat up Hermia,” Phillips said. “It was very depressing the first week of rehearsal when I first had to do it, but after a while I got into the mode, and I was just like, ‘I’m gonna push you down, girl. I don’t care if you’re a foot shorter than me—you’re going down. You dwarf.’ But Martina is so nice, and I hate doing it to her.”

ENJOYMENT FOR CAST & AUDIENCES

While the star characters must endure unnatural heartbreak, lust, and obsession, the production itself presents a combination of extensive set design, lighting, and, of course, acting ability.

“One of the best parts about doing this play is that I had one of the main parts,” Phillips said. “I had a lot of lines. Which should’ve made me nervous, but it really didn’t. It made me feel good to have a main part already in my first show, so it’s kind of cool.

“The worst part was also that I had a main part and a lot of lines,” Phillips said. “Classical theater is probably, like, my thing, though. FCP has really allowed me to figure out that this is awesome, and that I want to keep doing it, so a big ‘thank you’ to them.”

“This show in particular has so much energy, and I think you can really tell how much the actors are enjoying themselves in every performance,” Condrone said. “It’s been like a big playground. We’ve been trying new things and just having fun until we ended up with this awesome thing that we’d all had a hand in. It’s just been one of the coolest ways I could think to spend a summer.”

Ticketholders to the performance were also invited to bring boxes of disposable diapers for donation to the Blount County Salvation Army. Each donation gained a raffle ticket, which was entered into a drawing for a ticket to the season opener of FCP’s 2014-2015 season, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the closing production for FCP’s 2013-2014 season, which included October’s “Blithe Spirit” and March’s “The Foreigner.”

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