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A night of Shakespearean surprises

A night of Shakespearean surprises

The double bill of the Hofstra Musicum Collegium and the closing performance of “What Fools!: A One Hour Midsummer Night’s Dream” this Saturday, March 9, was a sight to behold. This is the last weekend of Hofstra’s 70th annual Shakespeare Festival, and it was also the 50th anniversary performance of the Hofstra Musicum Collegium. 

The Musicum Collegium performance featured period-accurate costumes and instruments, as well as solo and small group performances from its many talented singers and instrumentalists. Particularly noteworthy were the solos of high soprano Lauren Swank in “Sink Down Proud Thoughts” and violinist Alexandra Cabralto in “Lachrimae Coactae,” each of which showed off the musicians’ impressive skills and agility with their instruments. 

There were also elements of active storytelling in pieces like “Sleep Wayward Thoughts,” in which tenor Richard Risi pines after a sleeping woman, and “So Quick, So Hot, So Mad,” in which soprano Ameera Iftekhar, the woman Risi pined for, wakes up and rejects him with admirable passion. 

Another pair of well-acted pieces were “Ecco la Sconsolata Donna,” a solo by bass Christopher Lau in which he pines for a grieving woman, and “Flow My Tears,” in which Dorothea Hamblin plays the grieving woman.

The most moving part of the Musicum Collegium was the final number in which director Christopher Morrongiello invited the Collegium’s founder, William Hettrick, to the stage to direct the final song in honor of the Collegium’s 50th anniversary performing at the Hofstra Shakespeare Festival.

The following performance of “What Fools!: A One Hour Midsummer Night’s Dream” had the audience in stitches. 

The six-person cast juggled wonderful acting with rapid costume and character changes through the entirety of the one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. 

The four main lovers’ retro, ‘50s-style costumes, as well as the fairies’ shiny, futuristic outfits contrasted hilariously both with one another and with the stunningly beautiful and accurate Globe Theater recreation.

Anna Rudegeair’s Helena was delightfully insecure and desperate, while her Titania was the exact opposite, dazzling with both her sci-fi alien, double-armed costume and her overwhelming confidence. Ethan Marble played the boisterous self-assurance of both Demetrius and Bottom with gusto, taking every opportunity to dramatically throw himself to the ground or rush back onto the stage to deliver one last excited line.

Troy Sorenson charmed the audience as his effortlessly suave portrayal of a ‘50s greaser Lysander. Lysander and Dana Mastrull’s idealistic sweetheart Hermia had adorable chemistry. 

Sam Kaufman juggled his three wildly different characters of the Duke, Oberon the fairy and Quice the director flawlessly, changing his voice on a dime and somehow managing to keep it all straight. 

The energetic acting of the six players in “What Fools!” and the musical prowess of the Musicum Collegium combined for an afternoon of shows well done.

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