Sunday, October 15, 2023

Bottom's UP!

 Pasadena's A Noise Within Theatre Company rides again with the Bard and a band of merry actors all watched over by Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.   This production is  an amazing romp! Magritte meets Fellini?


Frederick Stuart and Trisha Miller
Photo by Craig Schwartz


My first exposure to the wonderfulness of this most excellent of the Bard's comedies was with the Royal Shakespeare Company's spectacular production directed by Peter Brook in the Ahmanson Theatre.  The beauty of the play itself is that it lends itself to absolute magic. Directors Rodriguez-Elliott & Elliott, the founders of the ANW company, don't spare the horses to create this swift moving and professional production that might stand toe to toe with The RSC!

In  this ANW production, we are greeted by   Frederica Nascimento's simple blank stage with a dozen black chairs and a huge backwall that shows promise.  We are not disappointed.   Lighting by Ken Booth brings the magic to life.  The Ensemble / Fairies have some odd business with hand held lighting that calls attention to itself as a device, but it adds the Fellini texture to the production. The Ensemble is dedicated to a person!

It's Puck, of course, Mr. Kasey Mahaffy, the catalyst and mordant that  brings the show together with a touch of La Dolce Vita. Indeed, The Elliots have  a cast willing and able to kick out the jams and literally run (and briefly fly) for the length of the show.  

Doubling as Theseus and Oberon and Hippolyta & Titania are Zach Kenney and Trisha Miller.  I still have a hard time 'getting' why Oberon is nuts about the kid that Titania has brought from India. (The gorgeous pram is a nice touch.)  If I read the text again, t might be clear. Regardless, in both roles each actor shines.  In fact the entire cast is glowing like anything. Titania is hot!

If for no other reason (There are two, actually) to be sure to see this show, is The Lovers' Fight. I still get Hermia (Erika Soto) and Helena (Jeanne Syquia) mixed up. Both are wonderful.  It's poor Hermia, of course, who faces the convent or death. Helena has an allergy or something. The women and the guys, Demetrius (Rafael Goldstein) and Lysander (Riley Shanahan) Knock it Out of the Park.

In every production of this play I've seen it still comes to the Rustics: the Mechanicals.. the guys who have signed up to entertain the Duke and company  for pending nuptials. Bottom (Big old Frederick Stuart) steals the show and steals the business of the interstitial "Pyramus and Thisby: a tragedy!"  

Die! Die!! Die!!!!!

Whomever made Bottom's Ass.. well the ass's head, deserves a medal.

We must never forget that the crew that manages to do the heavy lifting, becomes a character in the play. The huge upstage wall rises to take us to Fairyland where Oberon and Puck plot to prompt the line "Oh What Fools These Mortals Be.." 

Lavish** Costumes by Angela Balogh Calin  with wigs and makeup by Tony Valdez transform the actors flawlessly!  (Okay, one bowler hat  needs blocking. I mentioned Magritte, right?)

 Fast paced dialogue and  genuine appreciation for Shakespeare's words all meld to create a fun and funny production.  Applause!

More and more, the dream that The Elliotts have birthed and nurtured, especially since being in the warm and friendly embrace of the City of Pasadena, bring strong and important Theatre  to the stage.  

Please!  Just head to Pasadena and enjoy the show.

(**Really really wonderful! )

Demetrius   .    Rafael Goldstein*
Hermia . .         Erika Soto*
Helena .            Jeanne Syquia*
Puck .                Kasey Mahaffy*
Peter Quince    Alex Morris*
Nick Bottom    Frederick Stuart*
Titania/Hippolyta Trisha Miller*
First Fairy .      Cassandra Marie Murphy*
Lysander  .        Riley Shanahan*
Oberon/Theseus  .Zach Kenney*
Egeus/Flute        Ed F. Martin*
Snug .                 Brendan Mulligan
Starveling/Ensemble Hakop Mkhsian
Snout/Ensemble  Erick Valenzuela
Ensemble        Greta Donnelly, Rachel Han, Lauren SosaU/S Peter Quince/Snug: Edgar Landa*, U/S Hermia: Tania Verafield*,

The creative team includes 

Scenic designer Frederica Nascimento; Lighting designer Ken Booth; 

Composer and sound designer Robert Oriol; Costume designer Angela Balogh Calin; 

Wig and makeup designer Tony Valdés; Properties designer Stephen Taylor; Dramaturg Dr. Miranda Johnson–Haddad. Production stage manager   Angela Sonner,  Talya Camras assisting.


by William Shakespeare

A Noise Within
3352 E Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107

Previews Oct. 8 – Oct. 13
Performances Oct. 14 – Nov. 12
Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.: Oct. 11 ONLY (Preview)
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.: Oct. 12* (Preview) and Nov. 2 ONLY
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 13 (Preview); Oct. 20**; Oct. 27**; Nov. 3**; Nov. 10**
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 21; Oct. 28; Nov. 4; Nov. 11 (no matinee on Oct. 14)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 14 (Opening Night); Oct. 21; Oct. 28; Nov. 11 (No evening performance on Nov. 4)
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 8ϯ (Preview); Oct. 15; Oct. 22**; Oct. 29; Nov. 5; Nov. 12
*The preview on Thursday, Oct. 12 will be sensory-friendly; a handout detailing when an abrupt or intense moment of lighting, sound or on-stage action will occur, and a discreetly-placed lantern will provide a visual indication of when these moments will occur.
**Postperformance conversations with the artists every Friday (except the preview) and Sunday, Oct. 22
ϯAn INsiders Discussion Group on “Studying Shakespeare” will take place prior to the matinee on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (separate admission: $25).

In addition, there will be 13 student matinees scheduled throughout the run. Interested educators should email

Tickets and Information:
(626) 356-3100



No comments:

Post a Comment