Centennial students give 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' a modern spin

This ain’t your average Shakespeare.

Centennial High School is presenting a Ken Ludwig comedy in which “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” meets the reality TV series “Jersey Shore.”

“Midsummer/Jersey” opened Nov. 7 and continues at 7 p.m. Nov. 9, 14 and 16 at the school.

“Shakespeare doesn’t have to be this long and tedious old English thing,” said junior Brooke Larson, who plays Nikki Bottom. “I hope people see this story in a different sort of light.”

Larson said she enjoys playing a high-energy character with whom she can identify.

“We’re both very outgoing and love being the center of attention,” Larson joked. “That’s the great part about theater — you play characters completely outside yourself and characters you can relate to.”

The story revolves around the impending marriage of the governor of New Jersey, the love affairs of four beach-bound high school crushes, a lively crew of fairies and the staff of the local beauty salon (run by Patty Quince and stylist Nikki Bottom.)

The night takes a magical turn when Oberon and the impish Puck arrive on the scene armed with a powerful love potion and a desire for mischief making. The lovers take to the boardwalk, backed by pop music and an iPhone-obsessed wood sprite.

Junior Jade Babell, who plays Sunflower the fairy, said she still laughs after watching the show numerous times. She also loves her sassy, witty character and the Jersey accents actors employ.

“It’s really fun and upbeat,” Babell said. “It sticks with you.”

For Centennial’s student director, “Jersey” has offered an opportunity to see theater from a new perspective and an new appreciation for what’s happening on stage.

“This is much more comedic than the other productions we’ve been doing,” said Brandon Zuel, a junior. “It has really challenged us from our mold of doing serious, dramatic productions.”

“Midsummer/Jersey” made its world premiere in November 2011 at James Robinson High School in Fairfax, Va.

“I was really looking for modernized Shakespeare — something we could put our own mark on,” said Kellie McCarty, theater arts director and business teacher. “Ludwig says to keep this very contemporary and updated.”

If you go

Who: Centennial High School’s drama department.

What: “Midsummer/Jersey” — Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” meets the reality TV series “Jersey Shore.”

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 9, 14 and 16 (no Friday performances).

Where: Centennial High School’s auditorium, 3505 S.E. 182nd Ave., Gresham.

Cost: $5 for CHS students and staff, $8 for students under age 18 and seniors and $10 for adults. Tickets are general admission and available the night of the show.

Info: 503-762-7511.

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