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BWW Reviews: Ballet Austin Presents Gorgeous, Charming MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

September 16
8:08 AM 2013

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, produced by Ballet Austin, plays The Long Center for the Performing Arts at 701 W. Riverside Drive, Austin, 78704. Performances are 8pm on Friday 9/13 and Saturday 9/14 and 3pm on Sunday 9/15. Tickets are $12-$75. Tickets are also on sale for Ballet Austin's next production, The Nutcracker, which plays December 7 - 23. For tickets and information, please visit www.balletaustin.org

Any theater-goer must have some passing familiarity with William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, arguably the screwball comedy in which fairies use a magical flower to make two sets of humans fall in love with each other. No such flower is needed here to elicit the audience's love and affection. Ballet Austin's production of Midsummer is a spectacular, charming, riotously funny, and an instant crowd-pleaser.

At just shy of two hours, the ballet is far shorter than Shakespeare's original play, and that allows for choreographer Stephen Mills to present the material at a breakneck speed that greatly adds to the comedy. While there are plenty of beautiful, traditional pas de deux, there are several of moments in which Mills cleverly peppers the choreography with slapstick and physical comedy. A particular sequence in which both Lysander (Frank Shott) and Demetrius (Christopher Swaim) are both bewitched by the fairies to fall for Helena (Jaime Lynn Witts) to the dismay of Demetrius's lover, Hermia (Ashley Lynn Gilfix), is a major highlight of the production. As the four perform the madcap sequence, they earn laugh after laugh, proving that they are gifted comedic actors as well as splendid dancers. Another moment in which the beautiful and graceful Titania (Aara Krumpe) is enamored with donkey-headed, flea infested Bottom (Edward Carr) is quite whimsical and amusing.

Other bright spots of the cast include Jordan Moser as the mischievous Puck and Paul Michael Bloodgood as the stern and authoritative Oberon. As Hippolyta and Theseus, Rebecca Johnson and Orlando Julius Canova perform a breathtaking pas de deux in Act II which earns rapturous applause, and the entire company dances with incredible elegance and joy.

The splendid choreography and fantastic performances are supported by enchanting scenic designs by David Walker and stunning, detailed costumes by David Heuvel, both courtesy of Ballet West. The live accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra is magnificent as well, giving the score by Felix Mendelssohn a richness and grandness in sound.

The most disappointing part of most dreams is the simple fact that we often don't remember them once we wake up. This Dream, however, is entirely unforgettable.

Running time: 1 hour and 50 minutes, including one 20 minute intermission.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, produced by Ballet Austin, plays The Long Center for the Performing Arts at 701 W. Riverside Drive, Austin, 78704. Performances are 8pm on Friday 9/13 and Saturday 9/14 and 3pm on Sunday 9/15. Tickets are $12-$75. Tickets are also on sale for Ballet Austin's next production, The Nutcracker, which plays December 7 - 23. For tickets and information, please visit www.balletaustin.org

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