The Play That Hooked Me on Shakespeare

Whenever I see a fellow lover of William Shakespeare's work, I often wonder which one of the Bard's many marvelous comedies, tragedies, or historical pieces served as their entry drug to some of the greatest stories ever written (counting both classic and modern tales). For me, the play that did it was A Midsummer Night's Dream.

One of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Perotta (may she rest in peace), had us read and perform two of Shakespeare's most famous literary creations. While I loved As You Like, and still do to this day, it was A Midsummer Night's Dream, with its shapeshifting fantasy elements, that seized my youthful attention and stayed with me over the years. 

Later, my university theater group mounted a dazzling production of Midsummer, giving me the chance to play Puck, still one of my all-time most memorable roles. Although I've had the good fortune to play other Shakespearean parts (Orlando in As You Like It, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Fleance and Young Siward in Macbeth, the Gravedigger and Osric in Hamlet, Ned Poins in Henry V, Decius in Julius Caesar, and Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice), playing a bad-ass version of Robin Goodfellow still remains the gold standard by which I measure every other acting performance. (I returned to the character recently for a monologue night show.)

I always get a thrill seeing new interpretations of the show.  The latest is a touring production by Red Monkey Theater Group, opening this weekend. They will begin with a free performance at the St. Paul's Church Historic Site in Mount Vernon, New York, on Saturday, January 12, 2013, at 1:30 p.m., and will continue through Fort Hill Players' space at Rochambeau School in White Plains, New York, on Friday, January 18, at 8 p.m.  The show concludes at the Cahill Theater of the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York, Thursday through Sunday, January 24 through 27, at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.  To learn more and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.redmonkeytheater.org

Hopefully it will inspire others to a lifelong love of Shakespeare's plays!

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