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Best students get dreamy with Bard comedy

Coquitlam school takes on A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It was between The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Brad Case, the acting teacher at Coquitlam’s Dr. Charles Best secondary, had been juggling the two Shakespearean scripts in his head last year, wondering which one to present in the spring of 2018.

He was shying away from A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Best had presented it seven years ago to rave reviews.

But, over the summer, Case was in New York City to see theatre productions and attended a free showing of Dream, starring Phylicia Rashad as Titania, the Queen of the Fairies. It also included a number of older actors — a concept that piqued Case’s interest; he thought about the possibilities of the comedy and how he, too, could interpret it with his student cast.

Then, the stars aligned.

The week Case returned to Best for the new academic year last September, he happened to find a brochure on his desk from Trinity Western University to market their next play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “So I listened to the voices,” he said yesterday (Monday).

And after an open audition before Christmas — and seeing his talent pool available — Case solidified his decision and went with Dream.

Written 423 years ago, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an ensemble play made up of four interconnecting plots, joined by the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and Hippolyta, the Amazon queen.

Set in Fairyland at night, it also includes four Athenian lovers, the mechanicals (a group of six amateur actors) and forest fairies.

For the role of Theseus, Case selected Peter Salnikov while Hippolyta is portrayed by Emily Trepanier.

Other key roles in the play are: Philostrate, Master of the Revels (Thomas Last); Egeus, father of Hermia (Luca Herring); Hermia, lover of Lysander (Katie Truss); Lysander (Hanajin Kim); Titania, fairy queen (Alfie Oarchevici); Demetrius, suitor to Hermia (Eric Jacobsen); Robin “Puck” Goodfellow (Katie Graf); and Oberon, fairy king (Anthony Goncharov).

Goncharov, a Grade 12 student who on Monday learned he was accepted to the four-year musical theatre program at Sheridan College in Ontario, said he was thrilled to be picked as Oberon.

Still, “when we audition, it’s for the experience of being in a play — it’s not for a specific role.”
“I’m just happy to be in the show,” added Graf, another a graduating student. “It’s an ensemble play and everyone has an important character.”

Opening May 2, the cast of 32 will present 10 shows of Dream including two matinees for feeder schools in the district.

Graf said while the old-fashioned language may be hard for the younger students to grasp, “they see the fairies and the magic and the colourful costumes and everything is understood.”