Dreamy Midsummer Nights
This is James Taylor with Theatre Talk.
Seventy years ago, German stage director Max Reinhardt transformed the Hollywood Bowl into an Athenian forrest. This year, the Bowl has undergone a transformation, albeit a more functional one: a new, more acoustically engineered shell has been erected and large video screens have been placed all over the venue-which now makes going to the Hollywood Bowl a muti-media experience.
The Bowl opened this season with a homage to Reinhardt's now-legendary production of A Midsummer's Night's Dream. The LA Phil collaborated with the Glendale-based theater company, A Noise Within, to stage Shakespeare's Dream, combining (as Reinhardt did) the Bard's text with Mendelssohn's famous incidental music. The result was a fun evening, but not the work of an grand impresario-there was never a feeling of being immersed in the world of the play. But at moments-like when Oberon's final speech was underscored by the orchestra-you got a taste of what real theatrical magic can be achieved under the Bowl's unique proscenium.
There are no more staged works at the Bowl this season, but they will be presenting a Broadway musical and a full opera. Both are concert performances, but let's hope that this Dream will inspire the Bowl to stage more adventurous pieces that mix theater and music in the future.
For those who like to mix theater and music-nothing could be better than Steven Sondheim's A Little Night Music which is being mounted by Los Angeles Opera. Those expecting opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will not be disappointed by the singing; and those worried that the dramatic elements of musical theater will be ignored by LA Opera's cast and staging have nothing to fear. This is a truly enchanting performance-one that will enhance the life of every enthusiast of musicals, operas, plays, art or just about anything.
A Little Night Music runs through this weekend at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; the Hollywood Bowl hosts concert performances of the Broadway musical Mame on August 1 and the opera Turandot on August 15.