Glenn Davis as Nick Bottom and Kallee Gallant as Titania in Maine State Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Photo courtesy of Maine State Ballet

The story of the effects of supernatural intervention on young lovers running loose in an enchanted forest translates well to the fanciful side of ballet. With the woods of Falmouth just outside the door, the Maine State Ballet has combined professional and student dancers to bring the story of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to their wide theater stage.

The strength is in the comedy in this production, with just enough fine dancing included to satisfy. Despite a large cast, including a substantial number of very young, hand-led students, choreographer Linda MacArthur Miele has found ways to avoid traffic jams, clear space for subtle interludes and keep the action moving forward. Costumes and sets by Gail Csoboth and recorded music by Mendelssohn and Glazunov further the sense of a vibrant unreality within nature.

Lysander (Michael Hamilton) and Hermia (Julia Lopez) are a young couple whose romance is not officially approved by Theseus (Jonathan Miele), the Duke of Athens, who is himself betrothed to Hippolyta (Juliette Lauzier-Bridges). Theseus has Demetrius (Arie Eiten) in mind for Hermia.  Demetrius, meanwhile, spurns the affections of Helena (Emma Davis), who follows him into the forest as he pursues Hermia, who has fled with Lysander.

Further complications ensue as the woods are alive with fairies under the reign of their king Oberon (Frederick Bernier) and queen Titania (Kallee Gallant), who are engaged in a tiff concerning a young changeling (Caelan Martin). Oberon sends his mischievous chief fairy Puck (Roberto Forleo) on misguided missions to set the four lovers straight and punish Titania for defying him.

Pantomime by the principals effectively tells the story while dance partnering by Hamilton and Lopez, as well as individual turns by Davis, Eiten and Gallant, add the poetry of movement.  Some very elegant fairies (Rhiannon Pelletier, Emily Stinneford, Laura Moskevich, Adrienne Pelletier) also step forward for all-too-brief moments in the formal dance spotlight.

Forleo, in a star turn, embodies the impish delight and knowing insights of the consummate trickster Puck, having a good laugh at the expense of the foolish mortals while, with his pixies (Hannah Bergeron, Sally Minton), ultimately setting things right for a show bent on producing happy dreams. His spirited leaps and turns elevate several scenes.

Broad comedy is provided by the Mechanicals (Glenn Davis, David Jon Timm, Ethan Minton, Frank Quinones, Stefan Kroger), bumbling workmen enlisted by the Duke to put on a ridiculous play for entertainment at the weddings that close the performance. The uproarious laughs gained from this subplot on opening night matched those from the scenes of the lover’s confused petulance.

Midsummer can be a fleeting time. The Maine State Ballet has captured it well in this entertaining production.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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