WHS drama production debuts next week

Need help shaking off those early winter “blahs”?

The drama department at Wilsonville High School is ready to warm up your winter with its production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” opening Dec. 11 in the WHS auditorium.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Oberon (Levi Rule) and Puck (Hayley Rouselle) play two of the fairies who mingle with mortals in A Midsummer Nights Dream.Forget any preconceived notions you may have about Shakespeare’s difficult language or hard-to-follow stories. The WHS production takes this classic comedy of fairies, quarreling couples and mistaken identities and gives it a thoroughly modern twist.

“We wanted the show to be a slingshot,” director John Fitzgerald said. “As soon as we start, we’re going as fast as we can. There’s a lot of action, a lot of movement.”

Lisia Rouselle, a parent volunteer who manages the box office, said Fitzgerald is aware of the hesitation many people feel about Shakespeare.

“Shakespeare is really hard for people to grasp, and he gets that,” she said. “He’s going to make it interesting.”

Fairies on scooters, zooming up the aisles, are one way this production will keep the audience involved, Fitzgerald said. Such infusions of energy connect the audience to the action onstage, even if they don’t understand every word of the dialogue.

Fitzgerald’s decision to move the setting of the play up a few centuries is another strategy to connect audiences with the story. Originally set in ancient Athens, the WHS “Midsummer” takes place in 1890s Paris.

“It’s not guys in togas,” Fitzgerald said. “But you can tell it’s a while ago.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Lysander (Aaron Gilbert) tries to keep Hermia (Justine Cohen) from hurting Helena (Delane Cunningham).In the play, two young couples lose their way in a forest and encounter a mischievous sprite named Puck, played by junior Hayley Rouselle. In a mishap, the couples — played by seniors Aaron Gilbert and Justine Cohen and Anthony Flores and Delane Cunningham — accidently fall in love with the wrong person.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - From left, Bottom (Ian Graham) and Flute (Andy Williams) are two actors putting on a play for a local nobleman.Meanwhile, two other plots progress. The king and queen of the fairies — Oberon, played by senior Levi Rule, and Titania, played by Lucy McKown — aren’t getting along. And a group of townspeople stage a play for their local duke and his fiancee. All the while, Puck and assorted fairies manipulate the mortals, including one named Bottom who is turned into a donkey.

“Shakespeare is excellent at creating characters that get into a lot of mischief,” Cunningham said.

The young actors clearly relish that aspect of the play.

“It’s fun,” Rule said. “It’s a great show. It’s fun to pretend to be in charge of all creation.”

“It’s a strong cast,” Cunningham said. “Everyone is really taking their characters to new levels. It’s really fun just to watch everyone.”

Fitzgerald agreed.

“I’m delighted with the cast,” he said. “Everybody that’s in the show is really strong. We had to say ‘no’ to a lot of people.”

Following the opening show Dec. 11 at 7 p.m., performances will continue with 7 p.m. shows Dec. 12, 13, 18, 20 and 21. A matinee performance will be offered at 2 p.m. Dec. 21.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. They are available online at and may also be purchased in the bookkeeper’s office during school hours and at the box office the evening of the show.

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