The Hippodrome IS a magic act
When I was just barely a UF graduate who didn't want to leave Gainesville and so was working at the Reitz Union – that was in the mid 70s, a coworker was a student who was in a Hippodrome play and had a nude scene. Of course we all had to go. That was when the Hippodrome was in an old convenience store building on Hawthorne Road outside of town, image above right. I thought that play was The Tempest but it could have been A Midsummer's Night Dream. Either way, the Hippodrome has been producing theatrical magic for more than 30 years. Every time I go to a Hipp production I am impressed, by dedicated actors, ingenious set designs, and amazing sound, lighting, and costumes.
Continuing in this long tradition, this production of The Tempest, a William Shakespeare tale of magic and schemes, really mixes it all up – instead of Prospero, a father, we have Prospera, a mother, who is stranded on a strange island with her daughter and many unusual creatures. For a supposed primitive savage native, Caliban, we have a well- sculpted topless and bald specimen who wears swim goggles and shiny football pants that seem to actually be a part of his legs, which creates a truly other worldly effect.
The play begins dramatically with a ship in the midst of a storm and the crew working to control the sails from rope ladders. Thunder, lightning, rain . . . yes rain!
My favorite part of the play was Ariel, the dedicated and very powerful servant of Prospera. His exaggerated and curious facial expressions worked perfectly to create a completely different species with high intelligence and powers, unlike the crude Caliban.
It was also a special treat to hear some of the common expressions that we still use today that are from this play. It makes you realize just how special Shakespeare was . . .and still is: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."
The tempest continues at the hippodrome theater with performances Through Masy 4. Follow this link for more information.