Shakespeare in Hollywood

When mythology meets movie magic
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

“Dreams are a part of life, and after you dream, you bring
back to the ordinary world what you learned in the world
of imagination.”
-Max Reinhardt-


It's 1935, and Shakespeare's mythological fairies, Oberon and Puch, have magically materialized on the Warner Bros. Hollywood set of Max Reinhardt's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Instantly smitten by the glitz and glamor of showbusiness, the two are ushered onto the silver screen to play themselves.
Through various fortuitous events, Oberon (Hans Eckstein) and Puck (Red Concepcion) wind up portraying their very selves in the Reinhardt movie; with the former unexpectedly falling in love with a mortal, Olivia (Caisa Borromeo), the actress playing Hermia.
Another complication sets in with Will Hays (Miguel Faustmann), the motion-pictor censor who wrote the prudishly restrictive Hays Code and is vehemently opposed to what he regards as a licentious script. To get back at Hays, Oberon dispatches Puck to fetch the flower that makes any 'man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that they set eyes upon'.
“The feeling is magical. I have always loved working on plays that dealt with 'backstage goings-on'. These are productions that take a peek, serious or otherwise, at how a theatrical work of art was created and how it always affected the lives of the artists involved in its creation.
“The cast and I watched Reinhardt's movie on the very first day of rehearsals and we all agreed that the play should be as much fun as the original film. We even wrote a guide for performers to study,” related show director Jaime del Mundo.
While in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' the flower led to some unintentional couplings, playwright Ken Ludwig takes Shakespeare's example to even further mayhem. By the time the second act begins, in a party to celebrate the day's first filming, Ludwig's play is in full farce, with mismatched twosomes and threesomes careening across Onstage's broad proscenium at a manic pace.
With a little help from a feisty flower, blonde bombshell Lydia Lansing (Cris Villonco) and movie mogul Jack Warner (Arnel Carrion), together with arrogant “asses” like movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons (Joy Virata) and director Max Reinhardt (Robie Zialcita) are tossed into loopy love traingles, with raucous results. The mischievous magic of moviedom sparkles in this hilarious comic romp.
“I love to play people who are not me. The creation of the character is the most fun in being an actor,” shared accomplished thespian Joy Virata.
This “no-holds bard” screwball comedy harkens back to the the show director's old days with Rep. It delves upon the filming of Reinhardt's movie that introduced him to the comic delights of Shakespeare.
“I've always thought of the theater as a microcosm of society and so enjoy plays that demonstrate this theory in an incredibly entertaining way. As Shakespeare's Puck would put it: 'Lord, what fools these mortals be!' I definitely agree with him. There can be no greater truth. As far as I'm concerned, there is no more imaginative place to dream than in the world of theater,” enthused del Mundo.
Shakespeare in Hollywood runs 'til April 17th with gala performances on Apr 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 8pm and matinee performances on Apr 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 3:30pm. The Ontage Theater is located at the 2nd floor of Greenbelt 1 mall. For more information, simply call the Rep office through tel. Nos. 571-6926 and 571-4941. You may also browse their We site www.repertory.ph.

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