A Midsummer Night's Dream

Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch

24/07/2009 - 24/07/2009

Christchurch Arts Festival 2009

Production Details

A dream evening: the forces of the CSO join with a stunning ensemble of actors to present one of history’s most beloved comedies. This enchanting performance will feature a company
of actors and exquisite designs, creating an ethereal setting for the words of Shakespeare and the music of Mendelssohn.

A joint venture between CSO and the Christchurch Arts Festival, this performance presents an abridged version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream accompanied by Felix Mendelssohn’s complete incidental music.

Mendelssohn first composed the concert overture A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1826. By 1843, due to the fame of the overture, he was commissioned to write incidental music for a German stage production of the play. This score was used extensively throughout the 19th century.

The orchestra will be joined on stage by 10 actors as they recreate the romantic comedy in a New Zealand premiere of the musical adaptation.

Pre-show talk with Director Elric Hooper:
Friday 24 July, 7.00pm, Victoria Bar, Christchurch Town Hall

When:  24 July, 8.00pm
WhereTown Hall Auditorium
A Reserve: $65
A Concession/Friend: $58.50
B Reserve: $60
B Concession/Friend: $54
C Reserve: $40
C Concession/Friend: $36
D Reserve: $35
D Concession/Friend: $31.50
A & B Child: $15
C & D Child: $10

Book through Ticketek
0800 TICKETEK (842 538)


Narrator / Quince:  Jonathan Elsom
Hippolyta / Titania:  Rima Te Wiata
Theseus / Oberon):  Alistair Browning
Helena:  Elsie Edgerton- Till
Demetrius:  Lawrence Sommerton-Smyth
Hermia:  Emma Cusdin
Lysander:  Will Alexander
Puck:  Kristian Lavercombe
Bottom:  Philip Grieve
Snug:  Martin Howells
Flute:  Nicolas Kyle

A magical presentation

Review by Lindsay Clark 25th Jul 2009

On rare occasions, perhaps blessed by the lingering inspiration of Poetry Day, also celebrated 24 July, it is possible to have one’s cake and eat it too. In this case the feast was for eye and ear; a cornucopia of beautiful music, Shakespeare spoken with intelligent feeling, visual delights and of course the interwoven stories of fairy and mortal in the theatre world’s favourite Dream

Director Elric Hooper and conductor Tom Wood achieved the consummate blend of narrative and reflection as the complete score of Mendelssohn’s cherished work unfolded, from overture enacted and illustrated by the company, to the finale and blessing as the fairy world took its leave and serenity was restored to the muddled humans who had been through the mill of romantic comedy.

The 18 musical sections were interspersed or accompanied by narration from Shakespeare himself, splendidly accomplished in the person of Jonathan Elsom, who  stepped smoothly into various other roles – among others: Egeus, the litigious father who sets things in motion and Peter Quince, the would-be play director who cannot stop things happening. Thus the script, adapted by Hooper and Elizabeth O’Connor, was arranged to meet the cues in the score seamlessly and without interrupting for a moment musical momentum or theatrical logic.

Choreographed dance interludes (Glen Harris) melded effortlessly into the whole and his  arrangement s for  the youthful fairy tribe in particular gave us moments of pleasurable fancy.

The music was, of course, extended into characterisation by an accomplished cast, their voices well tuned to the language and moods of the play. Music flourished in the poetry and poetry in the music.

The royal couples (Hippolyta and Theseus,Titania and Oberon) were strongly presented by Rima Te Wiata and Alistair Browning, with the four lovers well contrasted in the work of Elsie Edgerton-Till (Helena), Lawrence Sommerton-Smyth (Demetrius), Emma Cusdin (Hermia), and Will Alexander (Lysander). As Puck, in semblance of a naughty Welsh faun, Kristian Lavercombe was a ball of energy and the slightly conflated group of mechanicals he so plagued (Philip Grieve as Bottom, Martin Howells as Snug and Nicolas Kyle as Flute) conveyed all their accustomed humanity and humour.

From declamatory beginnings through all the confusion and on to gentle resolution, the vocal quality of the players was a delight.

In support they had the supple playing of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (Concertmaster Jan van den Berg) and the tuneful contribution of the Southern Opera Chorus, directed by Holly Mathieson.

The visual arrangement for this exceedingly complex enterprise was necessarily simple, and relied on a happy collaboration of lighting magic (designer Joe Hayes ), set design ( Mark McEntyre) and costume (Pam Jones and Julian Southgate, also responsible for props). Reminiscent of the formalised whimsy of Arthur Rackham, the scene was never less than entrancing.

All in all this was a magical presentation and a memorable celebration of sister arts.
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Jackie Shields July 26th, 2009

Lindsay, I agree entirely with your review on Midsummer Night's Dream.  This evening sent me home on an incredible high because of everything we had experienced.  An amazing accomlishment by Elric Hooper  in co-ordination with Tom Wood and the Southern Opera students.  What we saw on stage was world class and was all anyone could ask for in great theatre.  What a pity it was only for one night.

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