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Foolish mortals prepare to wage battle on Sonora stage with Bard's 'Dream'

Catherine LeFrere and Kevin McKillip as Titania and Oberon in SRT's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Catherine LeFrere and Kevin McKillip as Titania and Oberon in SRT's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Four decades into presenting productions in the Mother Lode, Sierra Repertory Theatre finally is getting around to one of Shakespeare's most festive plays.

"It’s hard to believe that in 39 years of operation, Sierra Repertory Theatre has never produced the Bard’s tale of Puck and his wild antics involving lovers, actors and a fairy kingdom turned upside down," reads a press release from the company as it prepares "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for its Sonora stage.

The Bard's comedy will be presented May 4-20 at SRT's East Sonora Theatre.

Four plots intertwine, all set against the backdrop of a fiery battle between Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the Fairies). They culminate in the celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus and the Amazon Queen Hippolyta.

"We see the fairy king and queen quarrel; two young men who are put under a love spell for the same woman, who believes them to be tricking her; and a group of hopeless amateur performers rehearsing for their wedding performance," the press release said. "As everything goes wrong in the woods, the audience is left to enjoy 'what fools these mortals be'."

Directed by SRT Artistic Director Scot Viets, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" stars Jerry Lee — who has appeared in Sierra Rep’s "The Drowsy Chaperone" and "Man of La Mancha" — in the role of Nick Bottom, one of the band of amateur actors. "The character is famously known for getting his head transformed into that of a donkey by the mischievous sprite, Puck," according to SRT.

"He will do absolutely anything for attention which can be excruciatingly funny,” Lee said in the press release. "Bottom is one of the most famous Shakespearean fools. He is an uneducated man, a bad actor, and a shameless braggart."

SRT newcomer Catherine LeFrere stars in the dual role of Hippolyta/Titania. LeFrere has had roles in the Syfy Chanel’s crime dramedy "HAPPY!", Netflix’s "Orange is the New Black"and HBO’s "Girls."

Elsewhere Around the Scene: "Really Really"

Center Stage Conservatory presents "Really Really" from May 4-20 at its Modesto theater, a comic-tragedy that confronts and embraces the reality of today’s youth through the aftermath of a wild college party.

"This edgy play about 'Generation Me,' written by Paul Downs Colaizzo and directed by returning director Sal Vasquez, was one of off-Broadway’s most acclaimed in 2012," according to a press release from CSC.

The play is set following a drunken party at the residence of two college students and rugby teammates. "Self-interest collides with truth and the resulting storm of ambiguity makes it difficult to discern just who is a victim, who is a predator, who is a friend and who is a future leader of America," according to the release.

The play is intended for mature audiences. "Really, Really" will be staged 8 p.m. Thursday May 17 and Fridays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays at CSC’s Lower Level Studio, 948 11th St., Modesto. Tickets are $10-$15. For more, see www.centerstagemodesto.com.

"Four Seasons"

Four plays will be presented in one evening during "Four Seasons," written by Michael Lynch, theater professor at Modesto Junior College.

According to a press release from Lynch, the evening begins with "Rachel & Louise," which takes characters from one of the playwright's past productions, "San Joaquin Blues," and continues their story. The second piece is a 10-minute farce about two indiscreet lovers who get stuck in a sleeping bag.

Third is a 15-minute piece about a widow in a Brooklyn Cemetery saying goodbye to her recently departed husband. Finally, a 45 minute ode to Quentin Tarantino, according to Lynch, is about a hit man who has his crew kidnap a famous TV evangelist to heal his dying daughter.

The Modesto Junior College theater department presents "Four Seasons" at 7 p.m. May 10-12 and May 17-19 at the MJC Cabaret West, 2201 Blue Gum Ave. Tickets are $9-$11, available at mjc.tix.com.

"A Midsummer Night’s Dream"

WHEN: 7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Thursdays, Saturdays-Sundays; May 4-20

WHERE: Sierra Reportory's East Sonora Theatre

TICKETS: $32-$47

ONLINE: www.sierrarep.org

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