The Upper School Fall Play begins this weekend and while the choice of play is traditional - Williams Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” - the production itself certainly is not. The St. Andrew’s Players have given the court of Athens a modern setting, complete with cellphones, press conferences, and GPS.
But that’s not the only update audiences will enjoy. Every piece of music, from start to finish, was composed by two St. Andrew’s students.
Zein, a senior who plays Oberon, king of the fairies, wrote music for each scene change and any character group introduction, as well as music for the Bergomask dance in Act 5.
Anna, a junior who plays Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, composed voice and flute parts for the fairies’ lullaby in Act 2.
Both students wrote all the music on top of schoolwork and acting responsibilities in less than two months.
Anna said she originally imagined the lullaby music would be “Tinkerbell-like,” but said the final product is more haunting.
“We both agreed we wanted to do something a little darker,” Anna said of her collaboration with Zein. “The way it turned out, it’s something between Jewish synagogue music and ‘Castle on a Cloud’ [from Les Misérables].”
Zein said his music has a similar feel that captures the disarray in the mortal world and the fairy world.
“Musically and theatrically, there’s this dissonance that gives the play this sort of haunted darkness to it. At the same time, if you look at the players, there’s this levity, joy, and happiness,” Zein said. “It’s a comedy but it has a lot more depth than you would see on the surface.”
For Anna, the most rewarding moment of writing the lullaby was being able to author the piece as the composer and see her name alongside Shakespeare, the lyricist.
“To be able to collaborate with someone who has been an influence for a big part of my life is kind of amazing,” Anna said.
Zein said composing the music was very fulfilling and allowed him a way to contribute in addition to acting and set building.
“I feel like this is both a way I get to show what I can do to help everyone else,” Zein said. “It’s an opportunity to help out by doing what I enjoy.”
The show will also feature a fairy dance performed by the Upper School Dance Company.
People should see the show, Anna said, to experience how the cast interpreted the feeling of the show, what she described as “the essence of what it means to have your heart broken” and the desire to seek revenge.
“It’s getting down to the reason why we’re still paying attention to Shakespeare. What are those lasting human emotions we want to hold onto?” Anna said. “Also it’s a lot of fun.”
Zein said this production showcases the most difficult material, most elaborate set and most student input possible he’s seen in his four years with the St. Andrew’s Players.
“A lot of us have really poured in a lot of our hard work into bringing these characters to life,” Zein said, noting the contributions of both the cast and crew. “We’ve really created a world here and we want you to step into it with us.”“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens this Friday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. in MacDonald Hall. Additional show times are October 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the door—$3 for students and seniors, $5 for adults. The show is appropriate for all ages. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes with intermission.