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Midsummer [a play with songs] : A preview interview with director Michael Scholar, Jr and actors Amy Matysio and Clinton Carew.

October 18, 2012

Unless, of course, it is brand spanking new, when a director decides to stage a play, it is generally a play he has already seen mounted by someone else. Not so with Michael Scholar Jr. and the two-hander Midsummer [a play with songs.] He came to this work strictly by reputation and from reading the script, and was immediately convinced he would take a crack at it the first chance he got. Which explains why the David Greig-Gordon McIntyre collaboration is the first show in the Shumiatcher Sandbox Series in Scholar’s first season as artistic associate at the Globe.

“It’s light, fun, sexy. I absolutely fell in love it with,” Scholar says of a highly acclaimed Edinburgh Festival Fringe piece that is best described as a romantic comedy in the European tradition, the operative words being “European tradition,” nudge nudge, wink wink. There is also the fact that Midsummer is a comfortable fit with Scholar’s aesthetic as a director with a soft spot for alternative musical theatre, or “rock ‘n’ roll theatre creations,” as he calls them. The aforementioned McIntyre is an indie rocker after all.

“This show has all the elements I love,” Scholar says. That includes Amy Matysio and Clinton Carew, two actors with whom he is especially excited to be working. Midsummer concerns a spontaneous love affair involving a lawyer named Helena and a car salesman named Bob. “It’s a romantic comedy that is honest, and fresh, but it does not round off the corners,” Scholar says. “It’s about two people who are 35 and in a midlife crisis. They have an adventure, and it’s a meaningful adventure. It’s a story about a lost weekend, and it’s beautifully written. It’s deceptively simple. It’s a tall order for the actors.”

Matysio, no stranger to Globe Theatre audiences, is drawn to this play by its “genuine human moments” and by a structure that is almost cinematic with its cuts and rewinds and a timeline that moves back and forth. Her character, Helena, she says, “is trying to come to terms with shifts in her life. She’s just a step ahead of depression. The blocks are falling and she’s trying to keep climbing. It’s nice that she finds someone. They change together.”

In the course of what Carew describes as a “whirlwind, out-of-nowhere experience,” Helena makes Bob think about falling short of expectations, and dreams that have gone unfulfilled. Carew is intrigued by Bob as a “lowlife, low level criminal” who spins a good yarn and has the power of persuasion. No doubt, there is some empathy at work here as well. Regardless of whether it strikes in the 30s, 40s or 50s, who can’t identify with midlife crisis? “It happens even more frequently for actors,” Carew says. “We have a crisis every six or seven months.”

Assisting Scholar with this production is musical director Jeremy Sauer and designers Crystal L. Spicer (set), Patrick James (lighting) and the ubiquitous Emma Williams (costumes). Matysio and Carew were coached in movement by Johanna Bundon and in Scottish dialect by Paul DeJong. Amanda Smart is the stage manager.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Globe Theatre website at www.globetheatrelive.com.

Nick Miliokas is a freelance writer and editor based in Regina. You can reach him by email at rozenstern@rocketmail.com.

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