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Henderson to host 25th annual Shakespeare in the Park

The words of Shakespeare will leave their manuscripts and be transformed onto their rightful place — the stage.

"As beautiful as the poetry is, it wasn’t meant to be read; it was meant to be performed so you can see the action and the emotion behind the words," actor Scott McGee said. "You can’t see that until you put (the show) on its feet."

The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company has chosen to recapture the comedy and magic of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" for the 25th anniversary of Henderson’s Shakespeare in the Park.

Dan Decker, the artistic director for the company, said "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible plays and features four subplots, including the world of the nobles, the star-crossed lovers, the realm of the fairies and the story of the townspeople.

"All four plots unwind simultaneously," Decker said. "You have the fairy king in the middle who becomes the mover of the story."

Each year, the company switches between a comedy and a tragedy.

"We thought we’d lighten it up this year in the park with a comedy," Decker said. "Next year, we will be back to a tragedy."

Casting the production was the most important part.

"We have to get actors that bring (the words) to life," Decker said.

Breathing life into Oberon, the king of the fairies, Darren Weller is excited to take on a role he has wanted since he was a youth.

"I remember learning one of his speeches when I was 12 and always wanted to do the role," Weller said. "Oberon has beautiful speeches and uses great poetry, and I’ve always wanted to take a stab at that."

As one of the townspeople, McGee has the task of playing Francis Flute, a character who has to play leading lady Thisbe in a production for the king.

"The role is usually played by a younger male, not someone who is bearded," McGee said. "I think that makes the role even more funny."

McGee said his character is in one of the bigger comedy sequences at the end when Flute and the other townsfolk put on a play within a play.

"(The characters) aren’t talented, but their hearts are in the right place," McGee said. "Comedy ensues as everything goes wrong."

Cast ages range from 7 to 75. Each actor has the task of putting meaning behind the language.

Decker said keeping true to the language contributes to one of two reasons why people see Shakespeare.

"Nowhere in life do you hear language spoken to its fullest potential except for in Shakespeare," Decker said. "There is something about the language that illuminates the mind."

Decker also said people enjoy Shakespeare because of the human experience.

"Shakespeare explores the human heart with such delicacy and accuracy," Decker said. "People watch Shakespeare to learn about their self. You can’t get that from watching TV."

Weller thinks people enjoy the escape from reality into a different realm.

"They love the magic," Weller said. "They love the world that is like theirs yet not like theirs, where they get to indulge in the land of fairies, kings and queens, mistaken identity and star-crossed lovers."

Performances are free and open to the public. Pets are welcome, too, as long as they are on a leash. Guests are encouraged to bring pillows and blankets to sit on. Food vendors are expected to be at the park, but residents are welcome to bring food.

For information about performances, visit hendersonlive.com.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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