Midsummer Dreaming at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Center Valley, PA- In their escape from court to an enchanted forest, mismatched lovers encounter mischievous fairies in Shakespeare’s masterfully orchestrated comedy. A Midsummer Night’s Dream makes its outdoor debut at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival on the new Air Products Open Air Theatre adjacent to the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the idyllic campus of DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. The production previews July 7 and 8, opens July 9, and runs through August 1.

Barrymore Award-winning director Matt Pfeiffer returns following his critically acclaimed PSF productions of Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and The Taming of the Shrew. Now in his 22nd season with the Festival, Pfeiffer’s list of extensive regional credits has earned him multiple awards and critical praise across the country. His signature approach to Shakespearean plays has gained him critical recognition as, “the region’s most reliable director of William Shakespeare.”

Pfeiffer’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will debut as the first fully staged outdoor Shakespeare production for the Festival on the newly constructed Air Products Open Air Theatre.  This new outdoor space will set the stage for the play’s mismatched lovers to escape the city and enter a forest full of possibilities—the trickster Puck trips up the lovers, while a fairy king and queen feud, and a hapless craftsperson falls deep into an unpredictable love spell. “It’s a chaotic ball of energy,” Pfeiffer adds.

The lovers quartet includes Kathryn Tkel, who was last seen as Hotspur in Henry IV, Part I (2019) as the self-assertive Hermia; Akeem Davis as the fickle Demetrius, who returns following his turn as Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night (2018); playing the romantic Lysander is Luigi Sottile, who has had numerous roles at the Festival including Will in Shakespeare in Love (2018) and Valentine in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014); and Brett Ashley Robinson joins the lovers tryst as the persistent Helena. Robinson, a Philly-based actor and Barrymore Award-winner, makes her PSF debut. Some of her regional credits include performances at the Arden Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, and InterAct Theatre Company.

Joining them in the cast are Helen Hayes Award and Barrymore Award-winning actor Ian Merrill Peakes, as the infamous Nick Bottom. Peakes was last seen as Jaques in As You Like It (2017), and also starred as Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew (2016); Eleanor Handley, who joined Peakes in the titular role in The Taming of the Shrew, and was last seen as Olivia in Twelfth Night, plays Titania, the queen of the fairies; and Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons. Handley’s notable credits include performances at Lincoln Center Theater, Bristol Riverside Theatre, and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Lindsay Smiling, following his roles in Troilus and Cressida, along with Twelfth Night, returns as Oberon, king of the fairies; and Theseus the Duke of Athens. Smiling’s select regional acting credits include the Lantern Theater Company, Walnut Street Theatre, and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Rounding out the cast is Bi Jean Ngo, who doubles as Egeus, Hermia’s father, and Quince, the leader of the actors, has won both the Fox Foundation Fellowship Award and the Philadelphia Emerging Artist, Barrymore Award; and Mary Tuomanen who will play the mischievous Puck. Along with Ngo, they make their PSF debut, and have been named “Best Theater Artist” by Philadelphia Magazine (2015) and received the F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Award (2017).

A Midsummer Night’s Dream features costume designs by Olivera Gajic, music by Alex Bechtel, stage and set design by Steve TenEyck, and sound design by David M. Greenberg. The Production Stage Manager is Carolyn Reich, Colleen Hughes is the intimacy director, and Eli Lynn is the fight director.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 7 through August 1 at the new Air Products Open Air Theatre, the outdoor stage adjacent to the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Patrons are asked to bring their own lawn chairs. All performances begin at 6:30pm. Tickets are $52, Tuesday through Thursday and on Sundays; and $60, for Friday and Saturday performances. Run time is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

Prologues, offering insights into the play, are held at the outdoor theatre 45 minutes prior to curtain for every performance.

PSF is pleased to offer a sign-interpreted performance on Wednesday, July 21st at 6:30pm.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will also be available for virtual streaming. For virtual performance date and times visit pashakespeare.org/virtual-calendar/

To order tickets for in-person and virtual performances call 610.282.WILL [9455] or purchase online at pashakespeare.org

The Festival’s 2021 Season Sponsor is Douglas Dykhouse. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos & Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan & Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, and is traditionally the summer home to more than 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards. 

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can normally be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF was among just a handful of theatres on the continent in recent summers to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, Playbill.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 29 years, PSF has offered 175 total productions (74 Shakespeare), and entertained 1,000,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour to schools. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class theatre.