Once the idea struck, Williams looked to her dance class where several students, including sophomore Renee Vartabedian, had experience in modern and lyrical dance. Williams thought it would be exciting to incorporate aerial work with modern dance and asked Vartabedian to choreograph it to popular modern music.
But Williams wasn’t done there. She tinkered with the script a bit, moving Act II, Scene I up front.
“I really wanted the play to open in the forest,” explains Williams. “I wanted the audience to come in and I wanted to immerse them in this fantasy world. We open the show with a dance and aerial number in the forest. I think it works — we’ll see what the audience thinks. There are probably some Shakespeare purists out there who are not going to like it so much, but I think it is going to be interesting.”
Annie-Kate Gross, a freshman who plays Puck, spends a lot of her time monologing on a trapeze but says it was the Shakespearian dialogue that gave her pause in the beginning.
“Shakespeare is very frightening to people,” admits Gross. “The first time I started to learn the monologues, it’s like (Williams) said, we would memorize them till the end of the line, then to the end of the line, then to the end of the line. But we wanted to really understand what we were saying (and) we do (now), we understand what the show is about.”
This is no stuffy Shakespeare, says freshman Sophie Korpics, who stays stage-bound playing Robin Starveling/Moonshine.
“We’ve definitely made it a little more modern,” says Korpics. “And we don’t miss a beat on modern visual effects.”
The aerobatics will begin at Newburyport High School with shows Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. Saturday will feature a matinee at 2 p.m. and the final performance will be at 7.
“These students have done an amazing job,” says Williams. “You’re not going to be bored here. It’s an exciting show. It’s so fun to watch and the athleticism, never mind the commitment of the students, is going to blow people’s minds.”