Will Power

a kate west review

Shakespeare Festival/LA

Will Power to Youth
A Midsummer Night's Dream

at 1238 W. First Street, Los Angeles 90026
running August 26 - 29
Contact (213) 481-2273
or www.shakespearefestivalla.org

It is very nice to know that amidst governmental cutbacks and arts funding setbacks, there is still a place that brings youth together in the spirit of Shakespearean teamwork. Shakespeare Festival/LA's wonderful program Will Power to Youth presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream" downtown, not blocks away from the mighty Disney Hall and Music Center. They may not have the budget of those bigger theaters, but boy do they have heart.

Several teams of young teens and adult mentors collaborated on a 1970's version of "Dream" which entertains while tugging at the heartstrings and ultimately reiterates the importance of encouraging youth in the arts. Not only did they all memorize Shakespeare, but they also added some retro rock 'n roll and a few unique modern touches. In eloquent monologues, they talk about what their own dreams could be, what they might give an orphan child to survive reality's harshness and what they want from their future. All this pathos runs under two hours and as an added bonus, we get to watch some delightfully funky dance numbers.

The actual story begins with two pairs of lovers who find happiness despite all the obstacles they face. Lysander (Cesar Vargas) and Hermia (Natalie Sosa) love each other, but Hermia's father Egeus (Marco Castaneda) and the royal powers will not allow them to marry. Instead, Hermia is supposed to marry Demetrius (Manuel Mora) but Helena (Michelle Parra) is the one who truly loves him. They all run off into the enchanted forest where they run into fairies and magic. Oberon (Chris Mendoza) and Titania (Alex Geronilla) live there as the Fairy King and Queen and do their best to wreak mischief on their mortal visitors. Lastly are the Players, or Mechanicals, a group of laborers grimly determined to present the tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisby (inspiration for "Romeo and Juliet" no doubt) at the Duke Theseus' (Joseph Patino) wedding to Hippolyta (Claudia Diaz). While in rehearsal, they end up in the enchanted forest as well.

The talent varies, as some of the kids are setting foot onstage for the very first time. With that in mind however, and considering everyone's varied background, plus the fact that this may very well be their first exposure to the arts, it is a very impressive end result indeed. Some standouts include John Geronilla as the energetic fairy spirit Puck and Jorge Martinez as Philostrate, the Master of Revels.
And Jordan Vasconez and Alex Gonzales can't help but have the time of their lives reenacting the sillier version of Pryamus and Thisby. Every single actor and dancer is one hundred percent committed however, and it is more than obvious they are all having unbelievable fun up there. Morgan Williams and Kimiko Broder helped the cast choreograph some fun routines, including magically swirling parasols and hip moves worthy of any popular reality t.v. show.

Director Elizabeth Rainey is to be commended for piecing together so many different ideas, to the delighted surprise of all the parents in the audience. All the staff worked incredibly hard
(see complete production list below) and deserves accolades for such a fun show. The sincerity and earnestness emanating from this project is quite touching and we should all implore the Theater Gods to keep bringing back interested children and help guide them to exciting creative futures.

Elizabeth Rainey

Founding Artistic Director

Ben Donenberg

Director of Youth & Education
& Associate Artistic Director

Chris Anthony

Jeremy Ancalade, Director of Operations
Regina Cabrera, Director of Communications
Sam Greenstone, Director of Advancement
Marina Oliva, Youth & Education Associate
Ivan Robles, Facility Manager
Marcela Robles, Youth Coordinator
Ana Valdez, Development Administrator


Hippolyta (Costume Team)

Claudia Diaz

Theseus (Writing Team)

Joseph Patino

Philostrate (Sound Team)

Jorge Martinez

Egeus (Writing Team)

Marco Castaneda

Lysander (Acting Team)

Cesar Vargas


Manuel Mora

Herma (Scenic Team)

Natalie Sosa

Helena (Writing Team)

Michelle Parra

Peter Quince (Sound Team)

Shaun Reoliquio

Snug (Sound Team)

Min Song

Nick Bottom (Acting Team)

Jordan Vasconez

Frances Flute (Costume Team)

Alex Gonzales

Tom Snout (Scenic Team)

Ricardo Arenas

Robin Starveling (Movement Team)

Jason Mendoza

Oberon (Acting Team)

Chris Mendoza

Titania (Movement Team)

Alex Geronilla

Mustardseed (Costume Team)

Juan Castillo

Puck (Acting Team)

John Geronilla

Peasblossom (Scenic Team)

Magdalena Rafael

Teardrop (Writing Team)

Kevin Cruz

Moth (Movement Team)

Kevin Castillo

Thistle (Sound Team)

Allan Mancia

Starlight (Costume Team)

Gema Gomez

Firefly (Sound Team)

Luis Mateo

Movement Team

Cleavon Tatum



Kimiko Broder

Facilitation Director

Rani DeLeon

Costume Mentor

Hanalani Lee

Lighting Designer

Jose Lopez

Scenic Mentor

Akeime Metterlehner


Judeth Oden Choi

Stage Manager, Graphic Designer

Marina Oliva

Music Mentor, Facilitator

Ivan Robles

Youth Coordinator

Marcela Robles

Acting Mentor, Facilitator

Jon Royal

Movement Mentor

Morgan Williams

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