Mercer Community College’s Academic Theater Company will present an original adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Kelsey Theater on Fridays through Sundays, April 1 to 10. The play features all of Shakespeare’s comic and fantastical fairy elements and characters, but adds jazz dance fused with classical Indian dance.
The program strives to give students and their audiences a diverse range of performances, says Jody Gazenbeek-Person, the program coordinator. “Students are learning rewarding and challenging movements and acting techniques, while also learning the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural valuing.”
“They will have a powerful learning experience while audiences will leave the theater laughing, mesmerized by the dancing, and hopefully wanting to know more about India’s rich performance traditions,” she says.
The cast features Charles Acuna of Plainsboro as Puck. A 2015 graduate of High School South, he is studying theater and music at Mercer Community College.
He caught the theater bug in eighth grade when he portrayed an undercover agent in “Murder at Coppersmith Inn.” He did lighting his first two years of high school for “Damn Yankees” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” among others. He performed in “Grease” when he was a junior. “As a senior I did ‘The Laramie Project’ and ‘The Normal Heart’ simultaneously, which was a life changing experience personally and artistically,” says Acuna.
“Music and dance have been a part of my life since the day that I was born thanks to my parents,” says Acuna, who was born in Long Island and raised in Jamaica, Queens, until 2002 when the family moved to Plainsboro in search of better education and employment. His father, Juan, is a truck driver and his mother, Fabiola, is a business executive. His brother, Kenny, is a sophomore at South.
“This is the first Shakespeare I’ve ever worked on performing but I have studied other works such as Hamlet and Macbeth in the past,” says Acuna. “I have artistic aspirations.”
— Lynn Miller
Kelsey Theater, Mercer Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. Fridays through Sundays, April 1 to 10. $18. 609-570-3333. www.kelseytheatre.net.