Based on text by: Williams Shakespeare
Artistic Director: Kaitana Magno
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
CASA 51 is a bit of a trek from the nearest subway stop. But once one arrives at the building, well-dressed patrons anxiously line the sidewalk, awaiting entry into the space, transformed into Titania’s Nightclub for Midsummer: A Shakespearience. With a fantasticial formal guest code for patrons, this immersive intersection of Shakespeare, nightlife, performance art, and live music more than delivers on the promise of a new immersive theatrical experience.
Assuming the audience knows the source material (and honestly, even those who have never encountered A Midsummer Night’s Dream), the evening springboards from the classic text with a joyful melding of multiple time periods, styles, and singular talents from a phenomenal cast.
From drag to magic to aerial to tap dancing to beat-weaving to vogueing and then some, Oberon (DeWitt Fleming Jr.) , then Puck (Greg Dubin), then eventually Titania herself (Knoelle Higginson) run the show. A variety act of stunning performances, each act is a complete jaw-dropper. Pre-show and intermission, the tireless core cast is constantly “on,” directly interacting with audience members and performing key scenes from the original text to drive the plot.
With phenomenal tap dance fights between Lysander (Orlando Hernandez), Hermia (Emma Rosa), Demetrius (Izaiah Harris), and Helena (Amira Murphy), danger-defying magic acts by Puck, a plethora of talents from the Rude Mechanicals (Mark Martin, Nicholas Van Young, Elec Simon, Jose Mitaynes, and Dr. Ew), the joy and sheer skill throughout the performance is palpable and contagious. Though the scene of Pyramus and Thisbe runs a touch on the long side, seeing the talents of this cast never become tiresome. Topped off by Higginson’s superhuman vocal talents (this reviewer is convinced she is an actual magical creature with such a beautiful voice and impressive range), Midsummer is an absolutely perfect way to return to immersive events.
So put on your creative formalwear, head to midtown west, and catch this singular experience before this dream of an experience leaves the enchanted forest.
Runs Through 21 November 2021 | Photo Credit: Variety Life Productions