It’s not the Forest of Arden but it’s mighty close when Arts After Hours sets their MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in the Lynn Woods reservation (Sat. & Sun. afternoons through August 11th). Take your comfy walking shoes because each scene is played in a different part of the reserve, from the bandstand down to the water’s edge at Breed’s Pond. You’ll get in a good hike while you experience a lovely production, serenaded by strings playing sweet, elegant music by Gina Naggar.
MUCH ADO is a comedy of eavesdropping and even the travelling audience gets into the act, “overhearing” both sides of the drop: The speaker who is revealing a secret and the character hiding behind a tree who learns it. You may be standing next to Benedick (the charismatic Woody Gaul) when he discovers, he thinks, by accident, that Beatrice (the stately Lorne Batman) carries a torch for him. It’s all a set-up, of course, to match up the warring duo despite their determination to the contrary.
Director Hondo Weiss-Richmond doesn’t neglect the liveliness of the secondary plot (which some productions do) wherein Hero (a spunky Anna Waldron) is engaged to Claudio (the winning Sam Tilles) and is almost undone by a treacherous plot to ruin the union. Almost all of the performers can project loudly enough to be heard in the outdoors without losing the subtlety and rhythm of the prose.
The supporting cast makes each role resonate, from Steven Cosnek’s take charge friar to Bryan Max Bernfeld’s unrepentant bad guy, from Conor Seamus Moroney’s commanding governor to Arthur Waldstein’s despairing father. Roles that usually fade into the background here stand out in high relief, like James Tallach’s performance as Hero’s staunch defender.
Some of the actors double parts, so Tallach returns as one of the dopes who patrol the estate under Meredith Stypinski’s dubious leadership as the constable, Dogberry. As she so wisely misinforms, “Comparisons are odorous” so I will just say that this MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is quite something!
Tame and Wooly BEACH PARTY
Heart & Dagger Productions and Happy Medium Theatre take on the 1960s with Charles Busch’s satirical PSYCHO BEACH PARTY (playing through August 3rd). You would imagine that those dreadful Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon surfer movies (What was Cliff Robertson thinking?) would be ripe for the picking but Busch’s comedy is so broad that it sometimes misses the mark. I saw the original movies back in the day and they were so bad they were camp even before camp was camp.
The Medium-Dagger folk take a good swipe at it but, really, the script isn’t as shocking as it once was. The real reason to go is to see Joey C. Pelletier as a fourteen year old girl who wants to hang out with the in crowd. He’s simply adorable as a Gidget stand in named Chicklet and he’s downright hilarious as the multiple, psycho personalities who emerge via epileptic spasm. Kiki Samko’s choreography is spot on. What a thrill seeing the frug and the watusi once again, not to mention the mashed potato and the swim. As they say in the script, “Chacun a son gout.”