New Paltz native Nat Angstrom adapts Shakespeare for special NYC show

Nat Angstrom. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Nat Angstrom. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

For Nat Angstrom, a Shakespearean actor and New Paltz Central High School alumnus, one project has stayed at the forefront of his mind — creating a theatrical company to bring together talented, young actors in New York City.

“The idea behind the company is that there are several actors I’ve worked with throughout my career. They’re all people that I felt were really good, really interested in a similar style of Shakespearean theater,” Angstrom explained. “I wanted to get them together and see what that group could do — get them all together in the same room.”

Bottoms Dream is the name of that newly formed theater company. The name comes from a line in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — one of the Bard’s most famous, beloved comedies. Nick Bottom, a character in the play, is an actor. He musters his friends to put on a play-within-a-play in William Shakespeare’s classic.

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“It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream’ because it hath no bottom,” Bottom says in the play.

Angstrom, who’s played Bottom in a number of productions, and his collaborator Caitlin White related to that idea. The two wanted to make an opportunity for themselves, their friends and the talented actors they knew.

Angstrom, 27, grew up in New Paltz — technically in Gardiner — out near Dressel Farms. He first caught the acting bug in high school, went on study at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and then at Oswego State University for a theatre degree. But our corner of Ulster County is also where the idea for Bottoms Dream’s first show emerged. Angstrom and White brainstormed the idea during a visit to Gardiner’s Whitecliff Vineyard.

They decided to do a musical adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” featuring music from Bard Rock — musicians who’ve set Shakespearian lines to a modern indie soundtrack.

“That’s sort of their whole thing. They play at bars and things like that. They do musical renditions of Shakespeare songs. Not ‘musical’ like ‘Show Boat,’ but kind of Mumford & Sons,” he said. “It’s a folk-rock take on it. It has a Decemberists, Mumford & Sons feel.”

Angstrom added: “Then we listened to this music. We’re really good friends with them. We thought this stuff should really be produced into a full stage production. But it wasn’t really in their plans to do that.”

They leased the rights to the songs from their friends at Bard Rock, and sat down to adapt and edit “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” into a version that felt more streamlined — like a movie.

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