Brat Pack meets the Bard

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Rudy Trevino does his best Ben Stein impression at the head of the class. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Jadi Dicksa had a difficult assignment when it came to preparing for her role in McNary High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She had to figure out what William Shakespeare’s mischief-maker, Puck, and Madonna had in common.

“I knew a lot about the ‘80s movies, but I didn’t know a lot about the music. The challenge for me was researching who Shakespeare intended Puck to be and researching Madonna and how she fit into that through her music and performances,” Dicksa said.  “One of my favorite aspects is working with my body movements and being a big character.”

It will all make a bit more sense for audiences once they sit down for one of the upcoming shows slated for April 27-28 and May 3-5. Tickets are $5 at the door and curtain time is 7 p.m. for all shows except May 5, the show will begin at 8 p.m. that night.

The production marries Shakespearean language, with a few more “likes,” and the Eighties teen movies aesthetic honed to a razor’s edge by John Hughes in movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Teagan Qual plays Nick Bottom, the “Ducky,” of the ensemble and thinks the language and the era gel well.

“A big part of our research has been going online and looking at the video clips from John Hughes’ films to make sure we’re getting it all right,” Qual said.

“A lot of my homework was watching those films and the basis for my character is Blaine from Sixteen Candles,” said Anthony Aguilar, who plays Demetrius, the jerk of the show.

If that, dear reader, doesn’t make you feel quite old enough, keep in mind that a parent volunteered their time to come in and instruct the cast the finer points of 80s hairstyles. The students looked at a teasing comb like a relic from a bygone, doomed civilization.

“I’ve actually liked [setting it in a different era] because it put a different lens on my view of Shakespeare and how the work is relevant to times other than when he was alive,” said Dylan Bunten, who plays Lysander.

The upshot of the update is that the visual cues make some of the more difficult Shakespearean language easier to understand, said Alyssa Johnson, who plays Hermia, the entitled, popular lead.

“I’ve enjoyed how hard we’ve worked on it,” Johnson said. “We have this big fight scene that we’ve put blood, sweat and tears into every day, but it’s so fun and so exhausting.”

The scene is also a favorite of Belladina Starr, who plays Hermia.

“It really is the scene where we get to go all out and be crazy and it’s fun to see everybody embrace that and carry around backstage, too,” Starr said.

Bret Goesch, Danny Rosales and Tucker James play Tom Snout, Peter Quint and Robin Starvling, respectively. They are part of the nerdier crew, The Mechanicals, who are producing a play-within-the-play.

“Our parts aren’t written in Shakespearean verse like the rest of the show, but in the common language of the Shakespearean time so that’s a bit different,” Goesch said.

While they run in a pack, their best friends are actually their possessions. Goesch befriends his math book, Rosales has an affinity for his calculator watch and James’ steady companion is a Chewbacca action figure. What they’ve enjoyed most about the updated setting is finding new ways to breathe life into old roles.

“Acting is one of my passions and trying to see how far we can go with them or bring them to a whole different level,” Rosales said.

“You start with the base that Shakespeare gave you, but then you put yourself into it,” added James.

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