Trevor Copp pulls it off at the Rock Garden with his production of Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream

artsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 15, 2016



It was a production that was years in getting to the point where a cast of nine appeared on a stretch of grass that had a magnificent fir tree used as a back drop and put on a busy, almost rollicking version of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Director Trevor Copp is a dancer – so movement was a given – and the cast didn’t disappoint the director or the audience.

Opening night last Wednesday went well. The setting was close to superb. The audience was better than decent and the weather held. Cool breezes wafted over the “stage”.

Misummer - cast members

Michael Hannigan, centre, was everywhere. He proved to be a solid casting choice.

The cast was made up of experienced actors, with Michael Hannigan putting on a very good performance. Sean McClelland was a delight throughout.

Copp made the decision early in the development of the production that he would offer positions for emerging artists – current students fresh out of school

The two Sean’s came from Brock University; Claudia Spadafora is student at McMaster. John Walmsley and Alma Sarai come out of the joint Sheridan College and University of Toronto Mississauga.

Midsummer - Copp + RBG director

Trevor Copp listening toRBG CEO Mark Runciman during opening night.

Mark Runciman, CEO of the RBG  made the comment during his opening remarks that the RBG has been looking for ways to expand its program and while the talks with Copp took a number of years to get to this opening night point they have plans to have an ongoing dramatic program.

Shakespeare is text – his language is defining. When a director with “movement” as one of his defining features, it gets really interesting to see what Copp does with Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Midsummer Alma and xxx

Alma Sarai and John Wamslaey trying to work out a difference during the opening night of a Midsummer Night’s Dream at the RBG Rock Garden.

It is a busy play – everyone is always moving; the characters make use of some interesting costume set ups. Hannigan excels, Sean McClelland comes through again and again.

This reviewer is not a Shakespearian expert; Stratford every couple of years and the ThinkSpot productions in Lowville for the past three years just about does it.

But one doesn’t have to have a degree in English at the 300 level to know they are being well entertained.
It is a robust play during which you never got the impression that you were watching a bunch of about to graduate students learning the ropes.

Cast - 9 members

Front row- Michael Hannigan, Sean McClelland, Sean Rintoul, John Wamsley, Alma Sarai. Back row- Zach Parsons, Trevor Copp, Caitlin Popek, (on the floor) Claudia Spadafora, Jesse Horvath.

The second performance was delayed for rain but it cleared up and went on! “It was excellently received but it was terribly hot and humid” commented one cast member. “The audience was receptive and loyal because they stuck it out through the rain as well.”
Friday was fine but Saturday got cancelled – weather.

Crowded and noisy Midsummer

Parts of the cast work things out while the audience literally sit in those front row seats. The working things out had to do with just which lover was with which lover.

The production runs from Wednesday to the 21st. It is well worth the time to take in the event. We noticed that on opening night one of the retirement homes brought in a mall busload of people. This is quality work – don’t miss it.

Copp has argued for some time that local artists need to be given the opportunity to work where they live – they are working now at the Royal Botanical Garden.

Rock Garden sign

The play is no to be missed – the Rock Gardens are an added bonus.

The Rock Garden is something you will want to tour while you are there.

It would have been nice to see the Café opened for a stretch after the play; perhaps that will happen when they get their license.

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