When I teach Shakespeare, I will from time to time deliver a short speech for my students, but this was my first time performing Shakespeare before a paying audience. As Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I got to share the stage again with my daughter Carolyn as Puck. (She also had a separate speech as Puck.) In Henry V’s famous St. Crispin’s Day “band of brothers” speech, it was so much fun pronouncing “Westmoreland” in a British dialect (“WESTm’r’lund”) here in WestMORRland County,” I ad-libbed an extra one when I felt a cough coming on. I was a little on edge until the moment I got over the hump in my last speech, but then with nothing to lose, I just opened up and let the iambic pentameter happen. Good God, can Shakespeare write a speech! “Gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here!” Then, Carolyn came out as Juliet in that beautiful dress (thank you, Laurel Ballet studio), and nailed her “gallop apace” speech (maybe she should have presented *that* one at the PPT Shakespeare contest), and the waves of emotion from the sweeping music of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” — and I cried dadly man-tears. An unforgettable experience.
The program also included selections from Mendelssohn, Diamond, and Walton, and speeches, sometimes underscored with musical cues.
Thank you, WSO’s Daniel Meyer, Stage Right’s Tony Marino, the staff of the Palace Theatre, my wife Leigh for collecting the costumes with Alyssa Wano, and all the parents, drivers, and supporters of the student actors (Sydney Kantor, Banner Reed, Anthony Maximilian Marino, Angel Morante, Matthew Hommel, and Carolyn). Thank you, performers in Rock of Ages and Urinetown who had to cover for missing castmates, the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, the Palace Theatre, and of course the audience, for making this magical night possible.