by Daniel Hathaway
Pity any foolish composer who sets out today to write incidental music for Shakespeare’s wonderful comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Mendelssohn’s already been there and done that with such imagination and sensitivity that no one else need apply (though Benjamin Britten turned the play into a successful opera). The very large audience at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron on Saturday evening had the rare treat of hearing every note of Mendelssohn’s score interleaved with about two-thirds of Shakespeare’s words, when Christopher Wilkins led the Akron Symphony, the Akron Symphony Shakespeare Players, the Summit Choral Society Children’s Choir and Ballet Excel Ohio in an enchanted production of the Bard’s masterpiece staged by Craig Joseph.
In Shakespeare’s words, the stage of E.J. Thomas Hall was “translated” for the occasion. The orchestra was divided into three triangular groupings on upstage risers with paths between them leading to a colonnaded playing area at the top. Downstage, a pair of balconies with ladders framed the proscenium. A scrim emblazoned with the title of the show was in place when the audience arrived; lights came up behind it to provide a gauzy ambiance for Mendelssohn’s magical overture. [Read more…]