If you're a theater fan and you haven't really warmed up to Shakespeare live on stage, then you haven't seen the right production.
That's according to Wesley Broulik, a New York City-based actor/director who's in charge of Saratoga Shakespeare's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," opening Tuesday in Congress Park and running through July 29.
"If you find a production that's really good, oh baby, it's like going to a rock concert," said Broulik, who spends much of his time during the school year teaching at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. "Not every production is going to be perfect, but to me Shakespeare is about the language, the power of that language with a little bit of mysticism in it. What Shakespeare does is give energy to that language, and if it's done well it's amazing."
Broulik says that "A Midsummer Night's Dream," one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies, is a great bet to please the Congress Park crowd this summer.
"It's one of his most successful plays, and it has some of the more memorable lines that have come into our culture," said Broulik, "such as 'True love never runs smooth' and 'Lord, what fools these mortals be.' These unique one-liners have become part of our social consciousness, and that helps make this play really accessible. For me it ranks right up there with Shakespeare's best."
Broulik grew up in Iowa, where he didn't have a lot of opportunity to see live theater.
"Before I was on stage, I was a professional actor with my Equity card doing a lot of film," he said. "But when I was in school I did see Kenneth Branagh in 'Henry V,' and I started conjuring up images of doing this on stage. It was so sexy, so amazing."
Broulik stayed home for college, attending the University of Iowa before heading to Rutgers, in New Jersey, where he got his MFA in acting.He has taught at Rutgers, Virginia Commonwealth and the University at Albany, where he was for a year before heading off to Nebraska.
"Teaching at the Johnny Carson School was an incredible opportunity for me," said Broulik. "They have amazing amenities for a state university and they have a huge endowment. I took 17 students to England and the school covered their travel expenses. It's a great sweet spot for students and also for artists who are teachers and vice versa."
Broulik has appeared on stage in off-Broadway and off-off Broadway productions, and his TV work includes "Law & Order" and "Person of Interest." Saratoga Shakespeare fans will remember him as Don Armado in "Love's Labour's Lost" and as the title character in last season's "Cyrano."
Following the last performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on July 29, the company will stage a production of Shakespeare's "The Winter Tale," directed by Elizabeth Carlson-Guerin Aug. 1-5.
Tim Dugan and John Romeo will lead the cast in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," while Brenny Rabine and Hilary Parker will perform in "The Winter's Tale."
'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
WHERE: Saratoga Shakespeare, Congress Park, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; opens July 18 and runs through July 29
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.saratogashakespeare.com