The Restorative Power of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

The Restorative Power of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

2 mins read

the Bridge Theater’s hit production of “A Midsummer Night’s .” As directed by Nicholas Hytner, this immersive interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays is allowing theatergoers to escape the harsh British midsummer of 2019, with its floods and heat waves and sense of a nation unmoored by Brexit.

the London Palladium for a widely acclaimed revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a musical I thought I never needed to see again. For that matter, I’d been wondering if I wanted to take in yet another “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

But these productions turned out to be ideal fare for a battered soul in an advanced state of jet lag. And it occurred to me that, even before I set foot on a plane, I’d been feeling jet-lagged all summer — discombobulated, bleary, apprehensive.

a fine job directing Mr. Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock,” has appropriately conceived his “Joseph” in that music-hall tradition. It’s a warm-weather equivalent of a Christmas pantomime, with performers (including a multicast chorus of children) dressing up in deliberately hokey costumes, cutting vaudevillian capers and warbling insidiously tuneful, pastiche ditties that stick to the memory liked chewed bubble gum.

Its ensemble strategically mixes elements that would have been familiar to Palladium audiences of yore. There is the fresh-faced, stardom-bound ingénue (the appealing newcomer Jac Yarrow, who sings with the whispery sincerity expected of Lloyd Webber heroes); the sentimental old favorite (the pop star Jason Donovan, who played Joseph on the same stage in 1991, here as a scene-stealing Pharaoh) and the knock-’em-dead marquee star.

infinitely talented Sheridan Smith (an Olivier winner for “Legally Blonde” and a Bafta winner for “Mrs. Biggs” on television), who here plays the Narrator, overseeing the story while assuming many roles. Ms. Smith belts, hoofs and mugs like Liza Minnelli in her prime.

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