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                 Guest For  MONDAY APRIL 25, 2005                                        
                                             SARA ROSENBERG

                     Founder & Creative Director


                          RYAN KNOWLES

                   Cast Member of the Group

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The New York Times The New York Times Theater
March 24, 2005

Doo-Wopping a Midsummer Dream

Ryan Knowles, Tom Falborn and Louis Reyes Cardenas in "Fools in Love," an abbreviated version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Alan Kaplan
Ryan Knowles, Tom Falborn and Louis Reyes Cardenas in "Fools in Love," an abbreviated version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."



I have seen a few productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," beginning with Peter Brook's in 1971. On film, I have seen Mickey Rooney as Puck, Calista Flockhart as Helena and Rupert Everett as Oberon. But never has it all been clearer to me than when I watched the Millennium Talent Group's simplified one-act version, "Fools in Love," at the Wings Theater in Greenwich Village.

"Fools in Love" is intended to introduce children to Shakespeare, and it does the job with exaggeration, pure silliness and 1950's and 60's pop music. The comedy is set in the era of "Happy Days" and poodle skirts, in a California town called West Athens, where four teenagers hang out at a diner and discuss their romantic problems and plans. Hermia (Erika Villalba) loves Lysander (Matt Schuneman) but is being pressured to marry Demetrius (Antony Raymond). On the sidelines, Helena (Annelise Abrams) pines for Demetrius, who finds her completely unappealing and tells her so.

When Hermia and Lysander decide to elope, they find themselves the victims of mischievous fairies. Oberon (Andy Langton, in a black leather jacket with macho black wings) obviously has nothing better to do than play tricks on humans and on his beloved Titania (Margaret Curry).

Spellbound by a magic herb, the victims wake up from naps to fall in love with unexpected objects: Titania with Bottom (Ryan Knowles), a weaver who has been turned into a donkey, and both Lysander and Demetrius with Helena. Helena has such low self-esteem that she believes both young men are just ridiculing her by pretending to want her.

There's no real need for a Greek chorus, but five singers known as the Doo-Wop Group comment on the action frequently with mostly a cappella excerpts from golden oldies like "Duke of Earl," "Baby Love," "Respect," "My Guy" and of course "All I Have to Do Is Dream." D. J. Paris, making his New York stage debut, does a particularly nice job on "Unchained Melody."

Sarah Rosenberg and Louis Reyes Cardenas, who are credited with the show's conception, have kept Shakespeare's language (accented with an occasional "huh?" or "oh, all right"), letting young theatergoers grasp meaning through context.

It's nice to see a cast of all shapes and sizes. The full-figured Ms. Villalba is highly lovable as Hermia, and when she calls Helena a "painted maypole," she strikes a blow for all women over size 10. The very skinny Brandy Wykes has an endearing "Laugh-In"-era Goldie Hawn quality as Puck. The very tall Mr. Knowles has a lot of fun with physical comedy as Bottom. And then there are the smallest performers, children from the audience who are invited on stage to dance and occasionally speak a line or two. Warning: the actors have been known to force a pink wig on small volunteers.


"Fools in Love" runs through April 9 at the Wings Theater, 154 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 627-2961.


Joe Pintauro's "Metropolitan Operas" begins the 2004-2005 gay play series at off-Broadway's Wings Theatre (154 Christopher St.) when previews begin on September 9.

"Metropolitan Operas" explores the flight of life from the creation of ourselves, through the journeys we take and to our passing into the next world. Sarah Rosenberg and Louis Reyes Cardenas direct the play which consists of 10 vignettes, linked together musically in opera fashion. These modern vignettes reveal that in the world we exist in, life can be tragic but in opera beautiful. Millennium Talent Group in association with the Wings Theatre are Producers.

Playwright Joe Pintauro's ten plays have been reviewed by just about every major reviewer in New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Edinburgh, Chicago, Boston, and Montreal. All were done Off B'way or at small venues. Frank Rich of the NY Times wrote: "Pintauro reveals a talent for dramatizing grand passions with almost operatic vigor. He unleashes a volcanic uproar of affection, obscenities and physical abuse worthy of Raging Bull." The plays in addition to "Metropolitan Operas" are "Snow Orchid," "Moving Targets," "Beside Herself," "Raft of the Medusa," "Men's Lives," "The Dead Boy," Dode Jongen," and the trilogy "By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea."

Directors Louis Reyes Cardenas and Sarah Rosenberg founded Millennium Talent Group in 2003 and their outlook embraces a fearless approach to art, one that pushes the borders of creativity through breakthrough performances and their goal is to enrich, expand and explore.

Featured in the cast of 16 are Johanna Bon, Louis Reyes Cardenas, Margaret Anne Curry, Andrew Langton, Nicholas John Mazza, Burke Adams and Lindy Rogers. The play features the songs "Jesus is Lord" by Sherwin Macantosh, Mozart's "Rex Tremende" and "Peace Perfect Peace" by Edward Bickersteth. It also features original music by Sabrina McGuigan.

Bruce Dean is the set Designer; Tom Claypool is doing the costumes, Sean Linehan the lights, and Sabrina McGuigan the sound. The show will have a Thursday through Monday performance schedule, all evenings at 8PM except Sundays at 2PM and 7PM. Tickets are $19.00 and can be reserved by calling (212) 627-2961 and at www.wingstheatre.com.

"Looking 4 Sex" by Jonathan Kronenberger and "Skating on Thin Ice" a romantic comedy by Robert Canning follow "Metropolitan Operas" in the gay play series at Wings Theatre.

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