McDonald has previously directed 11 main stage shows, and appeared in 19.
The play tells several stories, each of which occurs during a single summer night in a magical forest outside Athens, in which fairies play pranks on lovesick mortals, earnest youths endure comical romantic confusion, and a group of mechanics attempts to rehearse a play in secret.
Jordan Hayakawa is the mischievously irresistible Puck (with the wonderful Spock ears), who delights in playing pranks on mortals. Hayakawa is lithe and elfin and seems to be everywhere at once. She is a pleasure to watch from before the show begins while she and other fairies hide in and around the audience, playfully impish.
Theseus (Matt Franck), Duke of Athens, is about to be married to Hippolita, former queen of the Amazons, portrayed by Jessica Hanselman Grey, a steady, loving companion.
Then there are the lovers. Hermia (Rachel Foster) is in love with Lysander (Thomas Dean) but her father Egeus (Robert Payawal) wants her to marry Demetrius (Brent Randolph), who loves Hermia, but her friend Helena (Analise Langford-Clark) is in love with Demetrius. It’s enough to make your head spin, though the actors keep it all straight and give good performances.
Payawal may be the only one with problems. He speaks too fast and too low to be understood some of the time, and he seems to be reciting lines rather than embodying the role of a father trying get his daughter married off to a desirable suitor, particularly in Act 2.
Egeus asks for the help of Theseus to force his daughter to marry. Theseus gives the young girl the choice of marrying Demetrius, or entering a convent.
Hermia and Lysander decide to elope, but on the way, they stop to rest in a forest populated by fairies, led by Titania in a wonderful portrayal by Patricia Glass (her costume is also great).
The forest is absolutely beautiful and high marks go to scenic designers Joey and Craig Vincent, especially for the way those green trees and that beautiful blossom-bearing tree can be moved around to create different looks.
Erin Bruni gets recognition as the fairy Mustardseed, who sings a lovely, lyrical a cappella song.
We meet the”mechanics,” five workmen who are rehearsing a play and hope to present it at the wedding of Theseus and Hippolita. The group is led by Quince (Steve Mackay, in another strong performance) trying to rein in Bottom (Phil Stommel), a ham who thinks he’s the greatest actor of all time.
Stommel, in his first performance at the Opera House, is wonderful in the role, but when his head is turned into that of a donkey by Puck, the costume is absolutely marvelous looking but it muffles Stommel’s words so that it is difficult to decipher what he is saying, which is really a shame because it’s such a great look!
Puck also casts a spell on Hermia and Demetrius, which, of course, does not go as planned, but teaches Helena that you should be careful what you wish for.
In the end, as it must in a comedy, everything gets straightened out, the right couples join together and all prepare for the big wedding, where Bottom gets to prove what a truly awful actor he is.
Puck has the final words, apologizing to all for the tricks she has played throughout the evening. (“If these shadows have offended…”)
This is a fun production, worth seeing for the acting and for the set, both of which are outstanding.