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A little ‘Night’ music

UNT departments join forces to jazz up Shakespeare

The opening show of the University of North Texas’ 2012-13 theater season joins theater, dance, English, history and music students. Guest director Maggie Harrer said the world premiere musical calls for that kind of collaboration.

A Jazz Dream is the adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Harrer, the dramaturge-in-chief and a longtime jazz fan, said she knew the popular Shakespearean comedy was destined to be set as a musical.

“In fact, there was a Broadway musical version of the play in the 1930s, but the script was lost. Some of the music was saved,” said Harrer, a freelance director from New York City. “The play is perfect for a jazz setting. You have the young lovers, the passion. And in Shakespeare’s verse, iambic pentameter, the emphasis is on the second syllable. In jazz, the emphasis is on the second beat. And that’s just like the heartbeat, ba-BUM.”

Harrer enlisted faculty member Richard DeRosa to lead graduate students in arranging songs she selected, from the 1890s to the 1930s, such as “Jeepers Creepers.” DeRosa’s students also composed music just for the show.

The musical is set in Manhattan in the present. Occupy Wall Street protesters have set up camp along the streets of the Financial District. The barons of Wall Street are at a gala ball in the Egyptian exhibit inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Central Park, fairies and street artists resist the order of finance with the passion of creativity and love.

UNT is producing the first staging of a musical Harrer said she hopes to open on Broadway — after productions in two other U.S. regions.

— Lucinda Breeding


•  What: World premiere of an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

•  When: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday and Nov. 8-10; 2 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 11

•  Where: University Theatre, in the UNT Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts Building, at Welch and Chestnut streets

•  Details: Tickets cost $10 for adults, $7.50 for students, seniors and UNT staff. For reservations, call 940-565-2428 or visit .