As we previously surmised, the One Song Productions performance of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing lived up to our expectations and, in fact, exceeded them! With the largest cast that we’ve seen One Song put on stage yet, they kept the pace moving quickly, the story involving, and the humor rolling. Scene changes are still a bit slow, as they have been in other shows; but that’s a minor quibble with an otherwise stellar display of talent and skill.
The Bard’s clever examination of gender differences, sexual prudery, infidelity, familial love, and romantic love involves chicanery that goes afoul, mixed identities, broken hearts and, eventually, a celebratory happy ending, which is well bolstered in One Song’s version.
Nicole Gabriel and Ben Goldstein slip into Beatrice and Benedick like Hepburn and Tracy, tossing sparked barbs from the outset and eventually discovering what is really in their hearts. The chemistry between them is intimate and confrontational at once.
Leigha Vilen inhabits Don Joan (Shakespeare’s Don John), bastard sibling of Don Pedro (played with gusto and élan by Eden Klinger), in a modern-day exchange of genders that lends timeliness to this show; and she does so with a villain’s zeal. Her mischief-making companion, Conrad, is played with assertive spunk by Nell Ovitt.
Constable Dogberry, master of malapropisms, is marvelously acted by Michelle Everette, whose face (especially her almost athletic eyes) is one of her greatest assets.
Although the entire ensemble consists of excellent actors, particularly creative and vibrant performances are brought in by Austin Lord, Carina Guerra, Emma Siplon, and Tynan Miller.
Director Grace Siplon uniquely sets the show in 1987, and includes music, costumes, and scenery from that period. She keeps her performers in period with gestures and posturings that are current to the time. The use of contemporary dance routines keep the action upbeat and lively. The transition from raucous humor to tender drama in the final wedding scene is sweet and gripping, and the hallmark of the show is an abundance of earnest and enthusiastic acting, although sometimes the enthusiasm overtook the diction.
Once more, we urge One Song Productions to find the way to play for at least two weekends. Their work is just too good to be missed.
SECOND OPINION: Aug. 3rd Chapel Hill, NC Chapelboro.com interview with director Grace Siplon and actors Nicole Gabriel and Ben Goldstein, conducted by Aaron Keck: http://chapelboro.com/news/arts/nobody-puts-shakespeare-in-a-corner-much-ado-at-artscenter/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Aug. 5th Triangle Review preview by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/08/one-song-sets-william-shakespeares-circa-1598-99-comedy-much-ado-about-nothing-in-1987/.)
One Song Productions presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 and 2:30 p.m. Aug. 9 in the Earl and Rhoda Wynn Theater at The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro, North Carolina 27510.
TICKETS: $10 ($7 students and $8 ArtsCenter Friends).
BOX OFFICE: 919-929-2787 or http://www.etix.com/.
SHOW: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html, https://www.facebook.com/events/137851946547855/, and http://artscenterlive.org/events/one-song-productions/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQN7BT1VUlw.
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html.
PRESENTER: http://www.1songproductions.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Song-Productions/136779861220, and https://twitter.com/onesongtheatre.
VENUE: http://www.artscenterlive.org/, https://www.facebook.com/artscenterlive, and https://twitter.com/ArtsCenterlive.
Much Ado About Nothing (c. 1598-99 comedy): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Much_Ado_About_Nothing (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/much_ado/full.html (MIT).
Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/education/studyguides/muchado/aboutnothing.html (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
William Shakespeare (English playwright and poet, 1564-1616): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare (Wikipedia).
Grace Siplon (director): https://www.facebook.com/grace.siplon (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.