Stages’ production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a hilarious and fascinating musical romance as well as a poetic, witty comedy in the rich, historical Shakespeare-kind-of-way. It’s pleasurable education for all ages.
I saw Stages’ MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and loved the up-do! This is from a guy who says, “I don’t like ‘modernized’ Shakespeare…
It is the 1940s and soldiers are returning home to what looks like New Jersey or Philly, but referred to as Italy later in the play. So, it’s Italy. The surnames sound Italian, too. When the actors open their mouths out comes Shakespeare’s words making sense. What? I know. I blinked, too.
The story is familiar. Love at first sight. Then, the “almost” wedding when the groom has been told that his bride-to-be is sleeping around.
There is another couple meant to be together, but it appears they have been at odds with each other for years. Their constant playful wit is some of Shakespeare’s comedic best.
Misperceptions, misdirection, confusion along with expectations and unfounded disappointments abound with serious consequences.
Stages’ MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING was great theatre, because not only is it “the Bard,” but also because it brought out the best in Shakespeare’s play and gave it a different life. In this production, art is stacked upon art.
How do you do that?
Take one of Shakespeare’s most beloved and best comedies; add actors who understand and can convey his intentions to a modern audience, add in “modern” 1940s music and dance numbers, and embellish the clowns, making them comic characters from a more contemporary perspective.
Director Marjorie Sokoloff used this perspective at the production’s heart, creating an unforgettable experience. Audiences will remember that they didn’t see just “any” Shakespearean comedy. This one is different.
There were great performances and outstanding performances in Stages’ MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Between my definitions and yours, we have a winner nonetheless—an audience-engaging production.
Powerful comedic performances were everywhere. The two leads, Casey Ficara-Williams “Beatrice” and Fernando Gonzalez’s “Benedick” are perfectly suited and nothing short of fantastic in their roles. Matt Reher as “Balthazar” provided some unexpected wonderful magical music relief. The clowns, Andy Wertner as “Dogberry,” the constable, and his deputy, Don Swenson, “Verges,” often stole the show with their comedy antics and physical humor.
Some characters always get more notice than others do. Rest assured that all the performances here are consistently strong regardless. The extraordinary ensemble cast makes the show work for the most part.
Angela Wertner’s choreography was interesting and amusing, always bringing a needed break from the action with song and dance—or just dance. The masquerade ball was complete with some outrageous modern day costumes—including several Batman–a direct connection to the characters in this 1940s setting.
Shakespeare’s plays always seem to take a while to get to the resolution. Here it’s the same, but director Marjorie Sokoloff’s excellent production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is worth the wait.
While potential audience members may fear they will not understand Shakespeare’s language, those that attend this production are in for a treat. The talented Company makes MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING about something as well as an entertaining.
According to the program, this is Stages at CCC last production, so come see it. You’ll be glad you did.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Marjorie Sokoloff
May 2 – 9, 2014
STAGES at Camden County College
311 College Drive
Blackwood, NJ 08012