Ludwig marries Shakespeare with Snooki
“Like ‘Jersey Shore’ without all of the drinking, swearing and ‘smooshing’,” is how teacher Douglas Rome described the drama department’s fall performance of “Midsummer/Jersey.”
Broadway alum Ken Ludwig wrote the script for the play, which the drama department performed in Russell Theater Nov. 17, 18 and 19. These performances marked the world premiere of Ludwig’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic, “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”
Rome said Ludwig specifically selected our school to premiere his play.
Ludwig said, “In collaboration with my publisher, Samuel French, we decided it would be a nice idea to do it at a high school since it is aimed at high schoolers and they recommended Robinson. I met with [Mr. Rome] and asked him about his drama program. I could tell just from the conversation that they would do a really nice job.”
Rome said he feels honored that Ludwig selected our school.
“It came to me,” Rome said. “I usually find choosing the plays difficult, but last December, I got a call from the Samuel French Company looking for a D.C. high school to be the premiere performance of a famous playwright, and we were recommended. I was interviewed about our program and found out the playwright was Ken Ludwig. I was pretty excited, because we did his play ‘Crazy for You’ a few years ago.”
Following the performances, the final script will be printed with the school’s cast listed next to their characters for future casts to reference.
Junior Kolya Rabinowitch, who played Denis, a Jersey adaptation of Demetrius, said he auditioned to be part of a world premiere. “I was not originally going to audition, but I did because having your name on the script forever for later productions to see was pretty cool,” Rabinowitch said.
Junior Emily Rowson, who played Helene, said having no other performances to base her character on was a unique experience.
“In other plays, I have based a lot of my character choices on past performances, but in this, it was all straight from the script and what you brought to it,” Rowson said.
Rome said being the first school to perform the script not only put more pressure on the cast, but also motivated them to work even harder.
“It feels like the stakes were higher on this one and everyone seemed very motivated. We started the process of casting and designing the set earlier than we usually do,” Rome said. “We started readings in June and have been designing the set all summer.”
Sophomore Gabby Rojtman, who played Mia—a.k.a ‘Cookie’— or Hermia in the original, said working more with the writer added a new level of pressure to opening night.
“There was a little bit more pressure because you really wanted to live out [the writer’s] vision, and because he is so famous, you wanted to impress him while still making yourself happy,” Rojtman said. “It was cool working with the writer because he had opinions. It was not just the actors and the director this time around; there was someone else there saying, ‘Wait a minute. I wrote it this way and I want it performed that way’.”
Ludwig said he feels like the cast handled the pressure well.
“I think they did a fantastic job. They were talented, smart and very sure in their actions. They were very honest in their portrayal. They had a lot of style, which is really important for actors,’ Ludwig said.
Assistant director, senior Lizzie Hodgedon said, “Reading the script, I could immediately tell it would be a crowd pleaser. I was excited to see what we could do with it.”
The show sold out for all three performances, a record for productions at our school.
Stage manager, senior Allison Poms said, “We have never done that before!”
Critics with the Cappies have written glowing reviews of the performance, a good sign for the drama department for the awards in May.
Poms said, “The Cappies seemed to really like it so we hope for the best.”