A Winter Night’s Opera at Playhouse on the Square

Posted by Holly Whitfield | February 7th 2011 2628 0

I went to my first opera last night because of a wig.

A few weeks ago, I had to stop by the Clark Opera Memphis Center. When I got there, I posted this to Twitter:

Elizabeth, the company’s wigmaster / marketing director, saw my tweet and told me that she would let me wear a wig on one condition: that I bring a friend who had also never been to the opera to their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

So, last night, while the rest of the city watched the Super Bowl, my friend John and I went to Playhouse on the Square for the opera.

Midsummer Night's Dream - Opera Memphis

photo courtesy of Sean Davis and Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis’ production of “A MidSummer Night’s Dream” wasn’t exactly a typical opera. The show was sung in English and entirely a capella, with an orchestra of singers taking the place of the usual musicians. It was the first time an entirely a capella opera had been attempted in the US.

It was a little disconcerting at first, especially when the guy singing bass hit his first extremely low note. At points, it was a little difficult to hear the singers on stage clearly over the voice orchestra, who were singing both the song’s melody and back-up vocals. Once I got used to it, though, it was fairly easy to follow.

The Shakespeare story is follows three couples that are having all kinds of issues, many of which are caused by a mischievous fairy named Puck. The two-and-a-half-hour show packed in more plot than an entire season of “Gossip Girl”.

Midsummer Night's Dream - Opera Memphis

photo courtesy of Sean Davis and Opera Memphis

The show didn’t drag at all – the cast was a joy to watch, and the often-raunchy humor was snappy. Emily Bodkin was fantastic as Helena, a woman full of unrequited – and then entirely too much – love. Though her part was small, Abby Walsh cracked me up as “the wall”, and Charles Ponder’s Bottom wore the head of an ass with style.

The show’s three-week run ends on Feb. 13, so there are still four performances left. You can get tickets through Opera Memphis.

In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my wig on Thursday. Expect pictures.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Candice says:

    Thanks so much for coming out to the show. We actually end our run on Sunday, February 13, so there’s still 4 performances left for people to enjoy! I’m in the voicestra. I know these things. 🙂

  2. Rebecca says:

    Do you have any pictures of you in your wig? What a fun evening!

  3. Emily Bodkin says:

    Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, we have a BLAST on stage every night. I can’t wait to get on the stage again on Thursday night! If I could, I would let you try on my wig… do you see how long those locks of mine are? It makes me feel pretty! 🙂

  4. Abby says:

    I am so honored to be mentioned! I am glad you enjoyed The Wall. I have been a reader of your blog for some time, thanks again!!!

  5. Marsha says:

    Your review was right-on and fun. Yes, I,too, enjoy the opera. I’d like to see you in the wig.

  6. tekay says:

    Hey, tell your boss Bob that he and Holly need to bring their bodies to one of these last performances! Thanks for coming to the show, we have a great deal of fun as Abby, Candice and Emily have mentioned.


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