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Last chance to see CHS spring play today, show starts at 2

What better thing to do on a dreary Sunday afternoon than watch fairies and sprites confuse lovers while a band of pirates hams it up with the best of them?...

Hermia (left, played by Taylor Leyrer) and Helena (right, played by Claire Palmquist) fight over a boy. Lysander (front center, played by Ethan Streblow) tries to keep Demetrius (back center, played by Nolan Ripp) away from the girls. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com
Hermia (left, played by Taylor Leyrer) and Helena (right, played by Claire Palmquist) fight over a boy. Lysander (front center, played by Ethan Streblow) tries to keep Demetrius (back center, played by Nolan Ripp) away from the girls. Jamie Lund/jlund@pinejournal.com

What better thing to do on a dreary Sunday afternoon than watch fairies and sprites confuse lovers while a band of pirates hams it up with the best of them?

This afternoon is your last chance to do that, as the 2 p.m. performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the final showing of the CHS spring play. Yes, we said Shakespeare. And, no, you don't need to be intimated ... new director Alex Goebel and his superb high school cast make it easy to understand while still remaining very loyal to the storyline.

Goebel stepped in when long time Cloquet High School theater director Kevin Hamre decided to take a break this spring, and certainly rose to the challenge.

The 2010 CHS grad had just completed a director internship at the Duluth Playhouse a month before the position opened.

Goebel explained that he studied acting at the University of Minnesota-Duluth but then tried his hand at directing and fell in love with it.

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“It just felt right,” Goebel said about switching from acting to directing.

Goebel chose Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for the school’s spring play, in part because he wanted something with enough parts for a large cast.

“I didn’t want to turn anyone away,” said Goebel, acknowledging that both the fall and spring plays at the high school are very popular activities with a range of students.

There are about 50 people in the play with several of them having lead roles.

The original play by William Shakespeare deals with love and its complications. There are three stories happening at the same time which take place in a mythical Athens and and enchanted forest with fairies and wood sprites cavorting and scheming. In one of the plots, four young lovers fall victim to a magic love spell gone wrong which leads to hilarious problems.

The UMD theater graduate has had plenty of stage experience. Goebel acted in many high school plays - he was a marvelous Cat in the Hat his senior year - and was active in the Duluth Playhouse children’s theater as a young person. He continued his involvement with the Duluth Playhouse throughout college, ending with the director’s internship last fall.

Luckily, Goebel was required to take intro classes in set design and lighting at UMD, skills he also put to use for this play.

He drew up the set design and asked his dad, Don, if he could make the set, including a huge tree with a branch as a bridge.

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Iris Keller helped paint the set to give it the final finished look.

“It should be fantastic!” said Goebel enthusiastically.

Goebel said he made a number of changes from the original Shakespearean script, such as updating and modernizing outdated words and adding storytellers to help explain some of the parts.

Goebel also changed the location from Greece to the Caribbean and added some pirates to the play.

“In my own theater education, I found it so important to understand Shakespeare and learned so much about the theater and acting doing Shakespeare plays,” Goebel said. “I disagree with the old expectation that Shakespeare is confusing and boring. We’ve done a lot of cool things with this production and these kids are so so great and so talented that they’ve been able to handle it and make it fun, understandable and a hilarious show for the whole family.”

The students have been rehearsing for a couple of months and are doing dress rehearsals this week. Goebel is happy with how far the young actors have come already and is looking forward to seeing the final results.

Come enjoy the play and laugh your way through “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The play will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 16-18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19, at the Cloquet High School auditorium.

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Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are only sold general admission at the door one hour before the play starts.

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