"A 'Dream' for any summer night... The question isn't whether to see it - it's whether to see it once, twice, or every time it's performed... In every blissful way it's a dream come true." News & Record
A recurring Dream with a Cirque du Soleil runaway
Like many, I've been fascinated with A Midsummer Night's Dream for a long time. Through seven productions over 20 years, in fact. The well never seems to run dry, it just gets deeper. After directing it three times, I had a few new ideas I wanted to work on. About the fairies not being outside, but inside the mortals. And about the once-in-a-blue moon moments when the possibilities of life and love in the natural, sensual world become more than a dream, if only for a split second. In four more productions at three theatres, Dream evolved through the collaboration with the rarely earthbound Karl Baumann. Karl and I met “by accident” in a coffee shop while he was on tour with Cirque du Soleil - just when I was looking for a Puck who could really fly. He ran away from the Cirque to join us in this experiment and recurring Dream - bringing the production a new look and life. And more to explore.
PRESS from the four development productions
“TAPPING DREAMS .. Our nightly fall to sleep begins with the gentle order of thought but soon gives way to the chaotic confusion of dreaming. So does this production. From early scenes of calm, it rapidly - and literally - tumbles into an enchanting journey through the night .. Indeed, it really is the actors that move this tale along. And I mean move. From the impish fairies to the misguided lovers, all inhabitants of Athens’ woods are played with supercharged physicality .. Even though this production is powerfully muscular, Shakespeare’s voice is not neglected. The seamless cuts in the text keep the pace while honoring the Bard’s poetry .. Lucky for you this dream lasts more than one evening. Bring your family and friends, and kiss the summer goodnight with this rollicking vision of magic, love and fantasy.”
"DREAM’ BRINGS SHAKESPEARE ALIVE .. Under Umberger’s direction, ‘Midsummer’ is a play that shines with spectacle and beauty .. As impressive as the clever and skillful delivery is the sheer physicality of the play .. Umberger takes this iteration and injects it with a healthy dose of dance, tumbling, and muscle, the majority of which comes from the 5-foot-nothing frame and physical presence of Karl Baumann...Sometimes the play becomes a ballet of sound and sight, and is a delight simply to watch.”
“A DREAM FOR ANY SUMMER NIGHT .. The question isn’t whether to see it, it’s whether to see it once, twice, or every time it’s performed .. It is a magical production that manages to be both amazingly fresh and true to tradition .. From a performance standpoint, there’s not a loose link in the chain .. Fast-paced and extremely accessible, it nonetheless takes time to bask in the lyrical dialogue and revel in the magical moments .. In every blissful way, it’s a dream come true.”
Greensboro News & Record
Greensboro News & Record
“A NEWLY IMAGINED DREAM .. Umberger is experimenting with an intriguing new production concept .. He has the young lovers in a fiercely funny slapstick mode during their many scrapes and quarrels, and he has radically reimagined Puck, brought thrillingly to life by spellbinder Karl Baumann. Each of his entrances and exits is a fresh wonder of acrobatic surprise. He is the essence of impish delight.”Creative Loafing
“A DREAM TO BEHOLD .. Umberger uses the dream of the woods to shape his belief that the play marks the moment between young love and adulthood that defines who we are as people...It all makes the play easier to follow, and easier for all to find a new connection with Shakespeare’s poetry.”
“DREAM COMES FLEETINGLY TRUE .. Among all the versions I’ve seen, the brilliant direction and design of this one make it my new favorite.”
SHAKESPEARE AND THE SCHOOLS
REVIEWS FROM THE TOUGH CRITICS
Dream has been seen by thousands of English and drama students. In its most recent production alone, over 2,500 students attended the show. Below are a few of the comments from some of the many high school teachers who saw the production with their students.
“Well, this is the first time that not one of my students said he did not enjoy the play. I have no idea what you will do to top the performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that my students and I attended yesterday. Thank you for your continued effort to provide students with an opportunity to see Shakespeare as it was intended to be enjoyed - on a stage with live actors. Please convey our heartfelt gratitude to all involved for this exemplary production.”
Connie Rafferty, Bishop McGuinness High School
“I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful experience my students had seeing the play this morning. Please let the cast know that if they ever question whether getting the energy up to do a morning performance is worth it - the answer is yes!! My students were so excited after seeing the play that they want to study more Shakespeare!! Thank you so much for offering this opportunity to our students.”
Beth Woodard, South Caldwell High School
CREATIVE TEAMS: Jennifer O’Kelly, Bob Croghan, Eric Winkenwerder, Ron Chisholm, Fred Story, David Castaneda, K. April Soroko, Todd Wren, Steve Umberger - and Mary Irwin, Ben Furey and Ellen O'Brien for help speaking the speech.
CAST (fourth production), below: Karl Baumann, Kate MacCluggage, Corey Allen, Vince Nappo, Brynn Tucker, Hugh O'Gorman, Kim Ostrenko, David Foubert, Jefferson A. Russell, Duke Ernsberger, Mark Allen Woodard; and Rob Taylor, Lee Willard, Franny Civitano, Katy Sink, Marcus Zollicofer, Emma Reaves, Logan Ford, Meghan Hoffman, Beth Caress
Karl Baumann originated roles in the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil productions of Mystere, Quidam, and Delirium, and has also played leading roles in the Cirque productions of Ka and Kooza. He has studied at The Juilliard School, choreographed/performed with MOMIX dance company, and taught movement all over the world. The project has also incorporated Playworks workshops with students in Baumann's technique of developing communication skills and self-awareness through physicality. Dream continues to evolve, next with a cast of eight actors who are also acrobats and musicians, and with a focus on the relationship between the human world and the natural one. (Photo: Karl Baumann leading fairy boot camp)