Musical pairs Shakespeare and '90s rock

Award-winning Cal Lutheran professor wrote parody

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Puck, played by Katie Dingle, shares the potion "Love-entitledness" with Helen, played by Abby Cardenas.

Photo: Taryn Gaulke

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — April 8, 2022) Shakespeare meets Green Day in an original musical parody of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that will be performed April 28 through May 1 at California Lutheran University.

“A Midsemester Prom Night’s Dream” will begin at 8 p.m. April 28, 29 and 30 in Preus-Brandt Forum on the Thousand Oaks campus. A 2 p.m. matinee will be presented on May 1. 

In this rock ’n’ roll adaptation presented by the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Millennium Oaks High School student Helen has been studying so much that she falls asleep at her “Midsummer Night’s Dream”-themed prom. She wakes to find that she is a character in the Shakespearean comedy. 

Set in 1999, the musical features the popular rock cover band 90s Nation performing live on stage, playing parodies of popular ’90s hits. Green Day’s “American Idiot” becomes “Shakespearean Idiom,” and Smash Mouth’s “All Star” becomes “Prom Star.” Other featured bands include AC/DC, the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls.

This is the latest of many original productions written and produced by theater arts professor Ken Gardner of Thousand Oaks in his 37 years at the university. The script for this full-length musical is based on a short musical adaptation of the play he wrote years ago for the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company to perform for thousands of elementary school students in Ventura County. Previous musicals written by Gardner, a recipient of the National Playwriting Program Excellence in Education Award, include “Hamlet, Disco Dane of Denmark” and “Ohio,” which was based on the Kent State shootings.

This is the fourth of Gardner’s original musicals at Cal Lutheran featuring the work of Ron DiBuccio, the bandleader of 90s Nation.

Abby Cardenas, a theater arts and criminal justice major from Phoenix, plays Helen, and Katie Dingle, a music production major from Oak Park, is Puck. Other leading actors in the production are Joey Grimaldi, a theater arts major from Pooler, Georgia; brothers Reed and Stone Sharp, film and television majors from Huntington Beach; Sacaiah Shaw, a theater arts major from Palmdale; Savannah Simpson, a theater arts major from Camarillo; and Olivia Zonni, an Oxnard resident who hasn’t declared a major.

Admission is free. Tickets can be reserved at They may also be available at the door. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the event and a photo ID is required for campus visitors. Masks are required. The theater is located at 135 Chapel Lane. For more information, call 805-493-3452 or visit