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A Midsummer Night’s Dream — the last play of the season

Merced ShakespeareFest members have been busy this 22nd season.

“Pericles” was staged at the MAC in March, “Henry IV, Part 1” at Applegate Park in June, and just this last weekend, in collaboration with the Merced Symphony, three Shakespearian actors recited the Bard’s lines leading into the music of Prokofiev’s Ballet “Romeo and Juliet.”

Now 25 actors from Merced, Atwater, Le Grand, Winton, Turlock and Modesto, between the ages of 10 and 65, have been rehearsing for five weeks for the next big show.

Cast members are watching what is happening on their stage, a group might be practicing a dance, another group song and movement; some actors under the influence of the fairy love potion declare their love and chase each other across the stage.

There is a lot of laughter but also hard work, when trying to remember lines without looking at the script. All of it is guided not by one director, but two, Shawn Overton and Heike Hambley.

It is the popular comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the celebration of young love, community theater, and the charmed and sometimes mischievous fairy world. These fairies play tricks on humans, but sometimes also bless them. Simple workers, the Mechanicals, rehearse a play for the celebration of the duke’s wedding day. Their play within the play turns out ridiculously funny. Four young Athenian lovers are trying to figure out who belongs to whom. This hilarious story of love, absurdity and beauty finally gets sorted out happily—all of this is in a compact package, not much more than 90 minutes with one intermission.

The production will run only one weekend at the magnificent Merced Theatre at 301 W. Main Street in downtown Merced, on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2.; Friday and Saturday at 7:30PM, Sunday at 2PM. Ticket prices range from $10 to $30; they can be purchased online at, or when visiting the box office on site. For more information call (209) 723-3265 or go to or the Facebook Page.

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