Enchanting comedy Much Ado About Nothing starts previews | Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay to play Benedick and Beatrice

April 26, 2012…Beatrice and Benedick’s merry war of wit and wordplay is fought on the Festival stage in the hilarious romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The production, directed by Christopher Newton, starts previews on April 26 at the Festival Theatre.

This production of one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies will be set in the lush and tropical landscape of Brazil at the turn of the 20th century.

“Much Ado is surely ultimately about the vicissitudes of love,” says Mr. Newton. “The sense of delight in Part 1, and the high drama of Part 2 all seem to resonate most potently in the lush sensuality of Brazil, where the action, like life itself, is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes accompanied by music.”

A celebrated actor and director, Mr. Newton has had a prolific career in the theatre spanning more than 40 years. He is the founder of Theatre Calgary and served as Artistic Director of the Vancouver Playhouse, before becoming Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival, a position he held for 22 years.

Much Ado About Nothing tells the story of two sets of lovers, Claudio and Hero, and Beatrice and Benedick. As Claudio woos his beloved Hero, his friend Benedick and Hero’s cousin Beatrice trade insults in an atmosphere of mutual disdain. But as Claudio’s wedding day approaches, a series of deceptions – both friendly and malicious – brings about more than one dramatic change of heart.

Much Ado, a comedy that begins with men coming back from war and which has a grave injustice at the heart of its story, is sometimes described as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’ ” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “So too is Shakespeare’s great war play Henry V, and I’m particularly pleased that we have these two works complementing each other on this season’s playbill. In Henry, Shakespeare presents us with a compelling study of the complexities of leadership, and in those two marvellously human creations Beatrice and Benedick he presents us with a hilarious yet deeply moving study of the complexities of love.”

“A bitter battle of wit transforms to love, and jealousy and anger turn to forgiveness in this sweetest of Shakespeare’s comedies Much Ado About Nothing,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Clearly a star danced when this great play was conceived.”

This production features a remarkable cast including Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay and as the bickering Benedick and Beatrice. This will be the first time the two, who are married in real life, will share the Festival stage.

Other cast members include Richard Binsley as Dogberry, James Blendick as Leonato, Juan Chioran as Don Pedro, Bethany Jillard as Hero, Gareth Potter as Don John and Tyrone Savage as Claudio.

The artistic team for this production includes Designer Santo Loquasto, Lighting Designer Robert Thomson, Composer Jonathan Monro, Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne, Choreographer Jane Johanson and Fight Director Simon Fon.

Much Ado About Nothing is sponsored by Sun Life Financial.

Production support is generously provided by Dr. M.L. Myers and Dr. W.P. Hayman and the Harkins Family in memory of Susan Harkins.

Cast

Artistic Team 

This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28:  Much Ado About Nothing42nd StreetThe MatchmakerHenry VYou’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownThe Pirates of PenzanceA Word or TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraMacHomerThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812.

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