It would be an extreme understatement to say I was excited to attend my first performance (with the lovely Robin) in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company‘s new Otto M. Budig Theater in Cincinnati. Last Friday evening’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was not the company’s debut in this new space, but it was our first show there (we had previously toured it, which I posted about here).
We arrived a half hour early and the place was already hopping. The spacious lobby is a far cry from the cramped confines of their former home.
And the cozy theater is simultaneously intimate and roomy. It’s an amazing accomplishment. Just 230 seats, if I remember right, and each is a great seat. We took our first-row seats (which I bought months and months ago) and settled in for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
It was a triumph. The actors were clearly having a great time, and so was the audience. We knew, when we saw one of our many favorites, Matt Johnson (above, center), in the role of Nick Bottom, that it would be a fun night. And it was.
The lovers–Lysander (Crystian Wiltshire), Hermia (Courtney Lucien), Demetrius (Kyle Brumley), and Helena (Caitlin McWethy)–were perfectly cast and wonderfully acted. We especially enjoyed the willowy McWethy’s portrayal of Helena. Sara Clark shone as Puck (above, far left), and Miranda McGee’s Titania (above, right) was entertaining as well.
The cast and crew clearly exulted in the capabilities of their new home. Billy Chace, as Snug the Joiner, delighted the audience with an unscripted and unShakespearean line after running around the theater several times following Bottom’s transformation: “This theater’s a lot bigger than the old one.” And Sara Clark, flying overhead for the fourth or fifth time as part of her enchanting turn as Puck, sang out, “This is still awesome!”
I thought Giles Davies’s tiptoe portrayal of Oberon was slightly off-putting, and the frequency of the fairy flights was a tad distracting. But as always, Shakespeare’s characters and words cast a spell, from “Lord, what fools these mortals be” to “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” The players deserved the immediate and enduring standing ovation they received, and celebrated with a David-Bowie–themed jig at the end. I even got a high-five from Titania herself. Dream, indeed.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through September 30 at The Otto M. Budig Theater,
1195 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.