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Last summer, Intrepid mounted a three-week, workshop production of Shakespeare's popular comedy. It became such a hit that word of mouth could have filled the house for weeks, maybe even months, to come.

Due to popular demand, Intrepid has re-staged the show. Once again, it's a wall-to-wall charmer.

Co-directors Christy Yael-Cox and Colleen Kollar Smith have set the play to the music of the late-50s, early-60s.

Beneath the comedy of confused identites, Midsummer questions the nature and value of dreams, including the dream/illusion live theater can create. So when the Mechanicals (the Bard's blue-collar workers/aspiring actors) enter, they sing the perfect song for the occasion: the Chords do-wop giant, "Sha-Boom," with the telling line "Life could be a dream."

Puck chortles "what fools these mortals be," right? So the Mechanicals croon Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"

David McBean's empyrean Oberon, fuming because Titania grabbed a changeling boy he had his eyes on, vows to get revenge with a magic flower. McBean, who's also the music director, ignites the house with Screamin' Jay Hawkins' immortal "I Put a Spell on You."

The cast has many changes since last summer. No matter. Everything rolls along with one surprise after another.

Phil Johnson, Craig Noel awardee, makes Bottom the Weaver a howl. He dresses a bit like Brando in The Godfather; but when Bottom plays Pyramis, Johnson becomes Brando's photographic negative. He violates every rule of acting - to great effect (Johnson even cracked up two pre-teens sitting near me, which must be the ultimate test for comedy).

As Puck, a tatoo-d Kevin Hafso-Koppman, must spend half his time in the air, swinging on ropes or dangling from a trapeze, and the other half setting a land-speed record on the ground.

Jacquelin Ritz (Titania/Hippolyta) and Nathan Riley (Flute) add strong voices. As the Puck-crossed lovers, Kyrstan Fafso-Koppman, Edred Utomi, Benjamin Cole, and Rin Ehlers sing well and sprint holes in the soles of their shoes.

The "mechanicals" are anything but. Savvy Scopelleti's Snug has few words but each gesture gets a good laugh. Gerilyn Grault, John Tessmer, and Brian Imoto enhance every scene.

Co-director Colleen Kollar Smith gets credit for choreography. Since there's little dancing, the title must include all scenes of turmoil, as when the male lovers belt out the Temptation's (and later the Stones') "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and run an apparently chaotic - and precisely timed - steeplechase around their distraught ladies-fair. Wonderful work.

Michael McKeon's set shifts from the pillars of Athens to the trunks of tall threes - made of cloth, with netting for leaves - in the nearby forest. McKeon provides so many playing spaces above the floor that many scenes take place in the air - and not, as Theseus says, "airy nothing" at that!

Midsummer brims with life and energy. And behind the entertainment is a series of smart, effective choices - of what feel like the perfect songs for the action, proper emphases for the action, and the humor. Everything fits with such obvious understanding that the musical deserves a long life after this excellent production.

Take it on the road!!


Intrepid Shakespeare Company, San Dieguito Academy, 800 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas, playing through August 18.

Photo by Daren Scott.

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