An abstract and brief chronicle of The Midsummer Players

The Midsummer Players of Charlottesville, Virginia, began as a passing fancy in the mind of a law student. One day in the spring of 1985, Tim Keehan suddenly realized, as he stared at the McIntire Amphitheater stage at the University of Virginia, that he had never seen a play there. He enlisted the directorial aid of Father Joseph Brown, and the Players began their first production, Julius Caesar, on a budget from their own pockets. Their makeshift togas were, in fact, bed sheets stapled together. The cast was comprised of an equal number of students, faculty, and townspeople, most of whom had never acted before. After all, the troupe was created to give people with little or no theatrical experience, or no time during the acadmic year, such an opportunity. Against all odds (including a rained-out opening night), Caesar was received with great enthusiasm.

The next year, Chris Cleary, wanting to continue this endeavor, directed The Winter's Tale in the gardens of Pavilions VII and IX. In the blistering heat of the summer of 1987, Andrea Rowland directed A Midsummer Night's Dream in Pavilion IX under the branches of the McGuffey Ash. The Players returned to the Amphitheater in 1988 with Much Ado about Nothing. With an expanded budget they were able to afford elaborate costumes designed by Nina Dorrance, Jay Minnix's handmade masks and props, and lights designed by Damon Schnack. The next year, Twelfth Night moved the Players to Darden Court in the School of Engineering, which was their home until their final show.

Shakespeare, free under the stars. Even at the Globe, you had to pay for the cheapest seats. And in our own time, when theater tickets are more expensive every season, it is important that Shakespeare's imagination be available to everyone. What the Midsummer Players gave Charlottesville audiences on summer nights for ten years since 1985 was an offering by the community for the community.

For photographs, click on photograph legends. All video clips are in Quicktime format. Click here for a site from which to download Quicktime.

1985: Julius Caesar
directed by Joseph Brown

Antony (Jim Gillespie)
Trebonius (Jeff Lumsden), Portia (Margot Caldwell), Mettelus Cimber (Chris Little), Antony (Jim Gillespie), Caesar (Peter Wirth)
1986: The Winter's Tale
directed by Chris Cleary

Paulina (Andrea Rowland), Antigonus (Bill O'Brien), Rogero (Tom Fussell), Leontes (Peter Wirth)
Clown (Garrett Smith), Shepherd (Matt Crane)
Antigonus (Bill O'Brien)
1987: A Midsummer Night's Dream
directed by Andrea Rowland
The cast in front of Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia
Quince (Jody DeRitter), Snout (Jay Minnix), Bottom (Chris Cleary), Starveling (Barney Hammond), Flute (Luis Guardia), Snug (Sue Gennrich)
Bottom (Chris Cleary), Snout (Jay Minnix), Starveling (Barney Hammond), Snug (Sue Gennrich), Flute (Luis Guardia)
Lysander (Walter Bland) and Helena (Pam Amos Cleary)
Quicktime clip (6.45 MB): Pyramus (Chris Cleary)
Quicktime clip (4.17 MB): Wall (Jay Minnix)

1988: Much Ado about Nothing
directed by Larry Garretson
Antonio (Gordon Braden), Beatrice (Pam Amos Cleary), Hero (Pam Loftin), Friar (Jody DeRitter)
Don Pedro (Erik Benrud), Claudio (Brent Harris), Benedick (Chris Cleary), Don John (Mark Boynton)
Courtier (David Dedrick), Ladies (Jennifer Marshall, Kathrine Spivey, Naina Ayya), Beatrice (Pam Amos Cleary), Ursula (Jennifer Kleine), Margaret (Stacy Wolf), Hero (Pam Loftin)
Balthasar (Lakshaman Narayanaswamy) and Margaret (Stacy Wolf)
Claudio (Brent Harris, Benedick (Chris Cleary), Don Pedro (Erik Benrud)
Conrade (Mike Thrift), Watch (Andy Rein, Gavin Pinchback), Borachio (Jay Minnix)
Beatrice (Pam Amos Cleary) and Hero (Pam Loftin)
Leonato (John Pfaltz), Beatrice (Pam Amos Cleary), Benedick (Chris Cleary), Claudio (Brent Harris), Hero (Pam Loftin), Balthasar (Lakshaman Narayanaswamy)
Don Pedro (Erik Benrud), Claudio (Brent Harris), Don John (Mark Boynton)
Antonio (Gordon Braden), Leonato (John Pfaltz), and ladies
Quicktime clip (4.07 MB): The speed of your tongue... (Beatrice, Pam Amos Cleary; Benedick, Chris Cleary)

1989: Twelfth Night
directed by Andrea Urice

Olivia (Melanie Zyck) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Larry Garretson)
Olivia (Melanie Zyck) and Viola (Dawn Distefano)
Antonio (Chris Cleary) and Sebastian (Phil Melita)
Tech crew (Charles Choi, Tim MacDonald, Jay Minnix, and Damon Schnack)
Fabian (Marci Bleyaert), Malvolio (Erik Benrud), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Larry Garretson), Sir Toby Belch (Jeff Gillenwater)
1990: The Taming of the Shrew
directed by Tim MacDonald

1991: As You Like It
directed by Andrea Rowland

Oliver (Richard Cooper) and Charles (Damon Schnack)
Jaques (Chris Cleary)
Rosalind (Patricia Price), Touchstone (Mike Torrey), Celia (Pam Cleary)
1992: All's Well that Ends Well
directed by Damon Schnack
King (Rick Gray), Brothers Dumaine (Jason Linkins, Dave Patton)
Bertram (Thadd McQuade), Countess (Patricia Price), Lafew (Jim Berger), Helena (Emily Lyman)
King (Rick Gray), Bertram (Thadd McQuade), Parolles (Chris Cleary), Lafew (Jim Berger)
Parolles (Chris Cleary), Bertram (Thadd McQuade), Lavatch (Scott Fishel), Lafew (Jim Berger)
Soldier (Mike Kindle), Dumaine the younger (Jason Linkins)
Director Damon Schnack, Costumer Nina Dorrance, and cast
Quicktime clip (3.0 MB): His sword shall never win... (Countess, Patricia Price; Helena, Emily Lyman; Dave Patton and Jason Linkins, the Brothers Dumaine)
Quicktime clip (3.15 MB): The particular of the interrogatories... (Parolles, Chris Cleary; Interpreter, Pam Cleary)
Quicktime clip (4.95 MB): My wife, my liege? (Bertram, Thadd McQuade; King, Rick Gray

1993: The Merry Wives of Windsor
directed by Chris Cleary

Alice Ford (Patricia Price), Falstaff (Patrick Ohleger), Meg Page (Melanie Zyck)
Meg Page (Melanie Zyck), Evans (Mark Rabinowitz), Falstaff (Patrick Ohleger), Page (Andy Sims), Ford (Tim MacDonald), Shallow (Gordon Fisher)
Falstaff (Patrick Ohleger), Quickly (Pam Cleary)
Ford (Tim MacDonald), Page (Andy Sims)
Slender (Mike Strzepek), Bardolph (Jason Carter), Pistol (Walter Deane)
Alice Ford (Patricia Price), Meg Page (Melanie Zyck)
Bardolph (Jason Carter), Falstaff (Patrick Ohleger), Pistol (Walter Deane), Nym (Jason Linkins)
Page (Andy Sims), Ford (Tim MacDonald), Shallow (Gordon Fisher), Evans (Mark Rabinowitz)
Anne (Cara Cordoni), Slender (Mike Strzepek), Shallow (Gordon Fisher)
Meg Page (Melanie Zyck)
1994: The Comedy of Errors
directed by Tim MacDonald

1995: A Midsummer Night's Dream
directed by Betsy Tucker

Last modified: July 13, 1998
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