The heady atmosphere of New Orleans jazz clubs and the mystical Mardi Gras provides a new take on an old story.
This summer, The Arts Theatre new studio space plays host to a musically infused version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Set in the Birthplace of Jazz, the tale unfolds from the crumbling jazz clubs and out into the Louisiana Bayous – bringing to life Shakespeare’s text amid the dark superstitions alive in the American Deep South.
Underscored with the inimitable sound of New Orleans Jazz and Blues, played live by the cast, it features the music of Dr John, Louis Armstrong, Randy Newman and Professor Longhair, among others.
Musical director, Joe Evans, has got the blessing of Dr John to include his most famous songs in the show, with the addition of Disney’s permission to include Randy Newman’s Oscar nominated song Down In New Orleans (famously sung by Dr John for the hit movie The Princess and the Frog).
Adapted and edited by Linnie Reedman it stays faithful to the original text, while exploring the rich culture of New Orleans and the surrounding influences of early 20th century Voodoo.
Oberon and Titania are portrayed as The Night Tripper and his Voodoo Queen while the am-dram group, the Mechanicals, form one of the earliest New Orleans jazz bands.
The play within a play evolves into a Mardis Gras-style jam session. On Friday and Saturday evenings any musically minded audience members are also invited to bring their instrument to join in an after-show jam session with the cast.
Formed in 2007 by Young Vic genesis director Linnie Reedman and acclaimed composer/musical director Joe Evans, theatre company Ruby In The Dust has more than 12 productions under its belt, including shows both on the fringe and the West End and other site specific venues.
Past credits include the critically praised The Great Gatsby, Hutch (both at Riverside Studios), Miracle starring Susannah York and Tim Woodward, (St Andrew Church Crypt and Leicester Square Theatre), Bonnie and Clyde (The King’s Head Theatre), Dorian Gray (Riverside Studios) with Jack Fox and Daisy Bevan, both in their theatrical debuts and Lady Windermere’s Fan (King’s Head Theatre).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream In New Orleans runs at the Arts Theatre Upstairs, Tues-Sun, from August 4-30.