The first clue that a fundraiser for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was destined to be a magical event arrived with the whimsical invitation designed by Cheree Berry Paper (see 2010 post here).
For this city dweller, another hint was the party's setting on an estate overlooking a breathtaking-stretch of the Mississippi River.
Party chairs Ted Atwood and Mary Morgan rounded up an event committee that included many CWEnders: Chuck Miller, chair of SFSTL board of directors, Jessica Holzer, former chair of SFSTL, Craft Alliance's Boo McLoughlin, St. Louis Actors Studio's William & Lisa Roth, Beth Ann & Andy Wilson, Sue Aman, and Rita & Joe Carpenter. Mary and her family are former residents of Lenox Place, so she too qualifies as a west-ender.
Basset Hounds figure prominently in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 4, Scene 1, excerpt below). Laura Carpenter Balding and Lei Ruckle (not shown), both Masters of Basset Hounds, led a parade of hounds from Three Creek Bassets and party guests to a nearby field for a rabbit hunt.
My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flewed, so sanded, and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew...
The hunt ended as peacefully as it began, as there was nary a rabbit to be found in those bucolic fields. (For future reference, might I suggest our front yard, where there are already three generations of the voracious Leporidae in residence?).
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' Artistic & Executive Director Rich Dildine, above, is directing A Midsummer Night's Dream, which opens June 1. Dildine describes the play in contemporary terms as a "soap opera with several stories intertwined."
Guests were treated to a scene from the 2016 production featuring actors Paul Cereghino (Theseus) and Jacqueline Thompson (Hippolyta).
Nancy Anderson, an Olivier-nominated actress who plays Titania, performed one of the original songs written for the production by NY actor-musician Peter Mark Kendall. The score was composed by St. Louis-based Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra.
Finally here are a few snapshots of the Gothic Revival house on the grounds of the property, above & below.
The charming guest house, above.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production of A Midsummer Night's Dream runs from June 1 through June 26 at 8:00 p.m. every night except Tuesday, in Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park. This is the 16th season of free Shakespeare in the Park!
From the SFSTL website: "Inspired by R. Crosby Kemper, III, the idea of a free Shakespeare festival began in 1997. In 2001 Chairman of the Board Marvin Moskowitz, first Managing Director Lana Pepper, and a visionary Board of community leaders produced the first annual free Shakespeare festival in Forest Park. Since the initial two-week run that attracted 33,000 audience members, the Festival has grown into a year-round institution producing over 250 public performances annually for nearly 100,000 patrons and students."
Volunteers are needed, for info look here.