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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From a Midsummer Night to Cabaret

Carte Blanche Studios’ summer shuffle

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Last summer featured two major productions of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream staged in Wisconsin, each taking place in a remote corner of the state. First up was American Players Theatre with a cleverly crafted, contemporary outdoor production in Spring Green, complete with a beautiful set by an award-winning scenic designer from Chicago. Later in the season, Door Shakespeare staged a much more intimate production. The high-energy physical comedy lent electricity to Door Shakes' tiny wooded space in Baileys Harbor.

This summer, Shakespeare's popular comedy comes to Milwaukee, via Jimmy Dragolovich's Carte Blanche Studios. In contrast to last year's productions, Dragolovich is taking the play in a darker direction. While remaining true to the script, he's looking to play up the more sinister end of the fairy's manipulation of the lovers. Subtle, sinister shades of comedy should create an interesting angle.

Given Carte Blanche's small studio space, it's amazing that the production has a set at all, let alone the elaborate scenery described by Dragolovich. Then again, the studio is getting used to pulling rabbits out of a hat. A Midsummer Night's Dream is set to run between dates for Carte Blanche's jaw-dropping production of Cabaret, as the popular musical has been extended through the end of the summer. In short order, Carte Blanche will dismantle Cabaret's Kit Kat Klub from 1930s Germany to make way for Shakespeare's forest outside of ancient Athens. After the closing of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the studio has three days to strike the forest and bring back the Klub. Fairies, lovers, dancers and Nazis: Carte Blanche has an interesting summer ahead of it.

A Midsummer Night's Dream runs June 25 through July 7 at Carte Blanche Studios, 1024 S. Fifth St. Cabaret begins its extended run July 10.

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