For director Noah Himmelstein, a seed was planted watching Michelle Yeoh’s 2023 Oscar speech.

The 60-year-old actress, whose win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” made her the first Asian woman to take home the Academy Award for a leading role, spoke directly to the women in the audience: “Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime.” It was a gentle jab at an industry that slaps an expiration date on women while older men are handed starring roles. “The industry doesn’t celebrate actors as they get older or reward all that artists of a certain age can bring,” Himmelstein said.

So what happens when actors at the peak of their practice get a crack at roles usually reserved for 20-year-olds? Everyman Theatre aims to find out with a production of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in which the four traditionally young lovers are played by actors in midlife.

“We want to feature the richness that these actors can bring that a young artist doesn’t necessarily have,” Himmelstein said of the casting for the play, which runs through June 9. “By going a generation older than the characters are written, could it be an opportunity to find new layers of comedy and pathos in the play? And could this casting be even more moving and even funnier?”

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Everyman’s production revolves around the conceit that “four people [in midlife] come into a space having lost something,” he said. It’s the music that pulls them back in time, as one of the characters presses play on a boombox and the strains of Stevie Nicks begin to work magic.

Dreams, fantasy and a journey through memory are felicitous themes for a Shakespearean work in which aristocratic lovers and rough-edged laborers alike are drawn into the forest, where their paths are crisscrossed with fairies. It’s a dreamscape of risqué revelry that leads them to the edges of their boundaries and brings them through the other side, transformed.

With his seasoned actors in place, Himmelstein and his team began to play with a concept: a “Midsummer” influenced by the period of the actors’ youth — the late ’70s and early ’80s. In rehearsals, they explored the experience of the young lovers, mad with hormones and romantic fixation, by remembering their own first experiences of blistering crushes and mesmerizing devotion.

But in referencing the era, Himmelstein and the show’s costumer, David Burdick, had something much more subtle and evocative in mind than neon and leg warmers. “The idea of the ’70s and ’80s is an emotional idea,” Himmelstein said. “The freedom and the fearlessness of the younger self is the gateway into the subconscious of these actors. We are asking the audience to go on a journey of make-believe.”

The show takes cues from the New Romantics, the London club scene movement of the 1980s defined by flamboyant flourishes, glittering stage makeup and androgynous gender-bending. Adam Ant, Boy George and Culture Club and, of course, the iconic David Bowie — all “densely poetic artists,” Himmelstein said — influenced the magical world created for this iteration of the Shakespeare classic.

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We don’t stay in the London clubs, though, with Burdick also leaning on Diana Ross (especially her epic 1983 Central Park concert), Chaka Khan and Fleetwood Mac for source material — artists who disrupted societal boundaries and spun magic just as “Midsummer” does.

But is it a period piece? Not at all. “It’s total fantasy,” Burdick said, drawing from mythology, the world of ancient Greece and contemporary fashion design. In “Midsummer,” Shakespeare grants us license to chase one another uninhibited through the woods, to find ourselves in the Fairy Queen’s bower, to act on urges normally hidden away. So while this “Midsummer” is infused with ’80s glam, it’s not limited by it.

We’re treated to nostalgic echoes and fragments of the era. Puck evokes that kid in a leather jacket who was always playing guitar behind the bleachers, and somehow the whole thing feels delightfully like we’re rolling in on a high school dance after the punch got spiked. “Great comedy also has that level of melancholy, of ‘what if’ and ‘what could have been,’” Himmelstein said of the way youth and memory infuse the production.

For the actors, rehearsing to Bowie and running around like adolescents could be a time warp. “The more adult we become, the more contained and controlled and measured we have to be,” said Natalya Lynette Rathnam, who plays Hermia. “But these characters experience such extreme emotions: extreme joy, extreme despair, extreme love.” And playing a teenager in midlife is also difficult on the body. “Physically, I can’t do everything I used to even five years ago. It’s great to be wild and free … but with knee pads and PT appointments,” Rathnam laughed.

“Your insecurities get provoked,” said Bruce Randolph Nelson, who plays Lysander. “You are a 58-year-old man playing a 20-year-old in a wig. You think, ‘What has your life become?’”

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Despite these hazards, the production has offered these established actors a chance to explore the classic roles in new ways. “It’s a gift to revisit the character,” said Rathnam, who has played Hermia before. “You look back and wish you could play the role again with the acting experience you have now.” Now she can, and she’s noticed new things about the character this time around: “Hermia is courageous, she’s brave, and it comes from her being very sure about her opinion and view.”

Nelson, usually a comic actor, has played Bottom in the past, but said he is rarely cast as “the lover type,” which has stretched him in new ways. “I’m playing a lover, but a young lover — a 20-something — who is impetuous, not thinking things through and flying on a lot of emotional energy. It’s been fun taking this on, but it’s hard work!” he said.

While the play was written in the late 16th century, Himmelstein noted the work reflects so much of our modern world, from threats to women’s bodily autonomy (Hermia faces arranged marriage or death) to calls for eco-justice (as Titania and Oberon’s fracture disrupts the balance of nature). “Midsummer” holds out the hopeful possibility that society can be transformed, even redeemed through our own truth-awakening experiences — if we are brave enough to set out through the woods.

But most of all, Himmelstein says he wants to simply create the “most fun, accessible way into the play. The ’80s were fun with a capital F.” And really, who doesn’t want to turn back time? Even if our knees are a touch creaky, we, too, can press play on the boombox and, carried away by a hit of nostalgia from those opening chords, take another crack at young love.

Emily M. D. Scott is a the author of “For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion in a Shattered World.” She is also a pastor, serving St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and Dreams and Visions in Baltimore.