Friday, June 07, 2013

"A Fun, Unpretentious Show" with "A Powerhouse Cast"!

Elizabeth Govaerts, Review of Much Ado About Nothing 
Lincoln Journal Star, June 7, 2013


Flatwater Shakespeare kicked off its summer tour of Lincoln parks Thursday in the Lincoln Community Garden, opening the original romantic comedy that pioneered the formula for all romantic comedies thereafter: Much Ado About Nothing.

This Much Ado takes place circa 1987 and is set in and around the estate of Politician Leonato (Scott Herr), who is entertaining preppy friends Don Pedro (Richard Eisloeffel), the handsome guileless Claudio, sweetly portrayed by Alexander Jeffrey, and Benedick, the wise-cracking lovable loud-mouth, played by Brad Boesen. Claudio soon falls in love with Leonardo’s lovely young daughter, Hero (Emma Gruhl), and they plan to get married immediately.

Meanwhile, Benedick has been engaging in witty banter with the equally witty cousin of Hero, Beatrice, played by Sasha Dobson. Although they don’t realize it, the rest of the crowd decides they are perfect for each other and proceed to trick them in to falling in love with each other, which, of course, they do.

Enter Don Pedro’s brother, who decides to spoil everything just for the fun of it by convincing Claudio Hero has been cheating on him. Tyler Hale is spot on as the bored rich-kid bully, Don John, who manipulates everyone for his own amusement. Tom Crew is brilliant as the hapless cop, Dogberry, who saves the day by accidentally figuring out Don John’s plot. It all ends well with a wedding and dancing.

This is the first Flatwater production not directed by Artistic Director Bob Hall. Instead, he turned this project over to Becky Key Boesen who has been seen in Flatwater shows since the company’s first production. She has put together a fun, unpretentious show with a powerhouse cast which understands her vision and plays accordingly.

She cleverly peppered the production with '80s pop hits like “Safety Dance” and “Don’t Dream Its Over,” sung and played by the cast, that added to the easy cohesiveness of the production.

The Foundation Garden has some limitations as a theater. There is a lot of ambient noise that, at times, makes the dialogue hard to hear and, because of the way the performance space was configured, when the actors sat they sometimes disappeared from the audience’s view.

But these were only minor annoyances and the appreciative audience clearly was having a great time throughout. It was the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer night.

Much Ado About Nothing continues June 7-9 and 12-16, 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, 15th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln.  The show will then tour Lincoln parks for two additional weeks.  There is no admission charge, although a freewill donation of $10 is suggested.

Visit flatwatershakespeare.org for more information.



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