Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
Location
Bronx, New York, United States of America
Birthday
December 13
Bio
Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact nickleshi@aol.com for more info.

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JANUARY 9, 2013 3:50PM

The Play That Hooked Me on Shakespeare

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Whenever I see a fellow lover of William Shakespeare's work, I often wonder which one of the Bard's many marvelous comedies, tragedies, or historical pieces served as their entry drug to some of the greatest stories ever written (counting both classic and modern tales). For me, the play that did it was A Midsummer Night's Dream.

One of my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Perotta (may she rest in peace), had us read and perform two of Shakespeare's most famous literary creations. While I loved As You Like, and still do to this day, it was A Midsummer Night's Dream, with its shapeshifting fantasy elements, that seized my youthful attention and stayed with me over the years. 

Later, my university theater group mounted a dazzling production of Midsummer, giving me the chance to play Puck, still one of my all-time most memorable roles. Although I've had the good fortune to play other Shakespearean parts (Orlando in As You Like It, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Fleance and Young Siward in Macbeth, the Gravedigger and Osric in Hamlet, Ned Poins in Henry V, Decius in Julius Caesar, and Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice), playing a bad-ass version of Robin Goodfellow still remains the gold standard by which I measure every other acting performance. (I returned to the character recently for a monologue night show.)

I always get a thrill seeing new interpretations of the show.  The latest is a touring production by Red Monkey Theater Group, opening this weekend. They will begin with a free performance at the St. Paul's Church Historic Site in Mount Vernon, New York, on Saturday, January 12, 2013, at 1:30 p.m., and will continue through Fort Hill Players' space at Rochambeau School in White Plains, New York, on Friday, January 18, at 8 p.m.  The show concludes at the Cahill Theater of the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York, Thursday through Sunday, January 24 through 27, at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.  To learn more and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.redmonkeytheater.org

Hopefully it will inspire others to a lifelong love of Shakespeare's plays!

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Dream is marvelous. The best production I've seen was at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 1993 with Colm Feore and Lucy Peacock playing Oberon and Titania. It was a captivating production that helped Ms. Stim and me to become Stratford junkies for a number of years.

Like millions of other kids, I read Julius Caesar in high school. Our English teacher, Mr. Arlens, gave us the historical background and context of the play, along with guiding a bunch of 10th graders through the language. I know many of my classmates were bored. I was fascinated and have enjoyed old Billy S. since.
I like when actors, directors, and designers take chances with Shakespeare, as long as it's supported by the text. I don't like to see the same old same old with Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, etc. but it always amazes and delights me when I see something fresh still done with the material. I never get tired of that.