Todd Denning as Benedick and Kelley Faulkner as
Beatrice in the Optimist Theatre’s production of
Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at
the outdoor Marcus Center’s Peck Pavilion.
- The Optimist Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park could
be called Shakespeare in the Peck this year. This
year’s venue is lovely and very accessible.
the fact that rain and a sudden drop in temperature
caused some discomfort on Friday evening, and the sounds
of motorcycle and sirens occasionally invaded the
hallowed grounds, the hearty troupe overcame all
obstacles and put on a fantastic interpretation of one
of Shakespeare’s best comedies - “Much Ado about
Nothing.” I can’t recall ever seeing a better
rendition of it.
is a story of love and revenge and hasty judgments.
is up to his usual tricks - eavesdropping, mistaken
identities, doggerel humor, smitten lovers, but this one
features a duo that mightily resists marriage.
and Benedick are two of the wittiest, commitment-phobic
individuals to hit the stage.
They represent all those (and there are many) who
swear that they’ll never succumb to the power of love
and its ensuing ramifications, but who eventually do,
despite their spirited protestations to the contrary.
Tom Reed has gathered a very Shakespeare-savvy troupe of
performers who make the Bard very accessible.
Shakespeare’s witty and beautiful words flew off their
tongues with ease, which is not always the case with his
play could just as well have been called
“Matchmaking.” It seems that everyone wants to get
in on the act when it comes to pairing up people. The
focus here is on Claudio and Hero, and the
aforementioned Beatrice and Benedick - one pair very
ripe for a permanent alliance; and the other, very
all’s well that ends well, but the fun (and pain) come
from the journey to get there.
wasn’t one weak link in the cast, but some of the
standouts include Kelley Faulkner (her best performance
yet) and Todd Denning as the dueling pair, Beatrice and
Benedick; Di’Monte Henning as the lovesick Claudio and
his besmirched wife-to-be Hero, played by Candace
Thomas; James Pickering as the outrageous Dogberry; and
Jonathan Wainwright as the sour avenger Don John.
set designed by Ron Scot Fry served the action well. The
musical interludes, the pacing and the choreography all
made the evening fly by in delightful measure.
this gem of a theater group. Since our Milwaukee
Shakespeare Company folded some years ago, there has
been a paucity of Shakespeare productions. It is nice to
see that some dedicated people are trying to keep his
inimitable masterpieces alive.
“Much Ado About Nothing”
comedy runs at 8 p.m. daily through Sunday and Thursday
through July 22, as well as at noon Tuesday at the Peck
Pavilion at the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts,
929 N. Water St. All performances are general seating.
Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.