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UWS version of Nothing Deserves Much Ado
Paul Brissett, for the News Tribune
November 9, 2012
UWS Theater unveiled a stylish, juiced-up production of William Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing on Thursday in the Holden Fine Arts Center.
It probably is most enjoyable if you’re familiar with the story, because director Cathy A. Fank’s approach, based on the style of commedia dell’arte, sacrifices a certain degree of accessibility for humor, but Shakespeare’s witty dialogue is all there — and delivered with laudable clarity and inflection, even if not London-grade cadence.
If you know the plot, though, this production is delightfully refreshing.
Much Ado tells how friends of Beatrice (Meghan O’Toole-Gott) and Benedick (Andrew Kirov), who see through the pair’s constant verbal sparring and know they in fact are attracted to one another, plot to bring them together. A secondary plot has a jealous nobleman plotting to derail the impending marriage of Hero (Laura Halvorsen) and Claudio (Mitch Kieffer).
Fank’s cast tells the story with the broadest kind of gestures and posturing, the points they make in speech punctuated with cheers, boos and sound effects from a chorus clad in white, setting them off from the rich colors of Stephany Anderson’s costumes for the principals. All movements are impeccably choreographed and perfectly timed.
Sue Wedan’s set of draped arches and multi-level platforms behind a stone-floored plaza with working fountain represents the home of Leonato (Darrin Stewart), Hero’s father and Beatrice’s uncle.
Fank has done a remarkable job of finding 20 actors capable of credible performance — and of Shakespeare, no less — from the relatively small pool available at UWS. And each and every one of them, choristers included, plays his or her part with relish and intensity.
Kirov’s Benedick is the perfect confirmed bachelor, and he delivers the verse dialogue with an easy naturalness that makes the character likeable and relatable.
O’Toole-Gott plays Beatrice with more choler than is customary, but the choice gives her extra room for the sort of flamboyance the production seems to call for.
Halvorsen’s giggly, extroverted approach makes Hero a much more prominent character than she’s often seen to be.
She is one of several new faces on the UWS stage in this production that bode well for upcoming productions there.
Much Ado About Nothing Review
By: Courtney Johnson
This play was preformed in the Holden Fine Arts Center by students that attend the college of University of Wisconsin-Superior. Much Ado About Nothing is a well-known William Shakespeare production. This comedy was put on well by UWS students. However, if one did not know much about the play they might not have thought of it as that great.
Cathy Frank was the director of this play, and she did a wonderful job on keeping the humor alive throughout the play. The main actors in this play did an excellent job as well. The main actors were: Meghan O'Toole-Gott who played Beatrice, Leonato who was Beatrice's uncle and Hero's father was played by Darrin Stewart, Andrew Kirov was Benedick, Hero was played by Laura Halvorsen, and Claudio was played by Mitch Kieffer. Not only was the director and actors great, but so was the costume designer, Stephany Anderson, and Sue Wedan, who was in charge of creating the scenery of the play. Both of these designers did well in their departments of art. The costumes were nice and full of bold colors, and the scenery was done well as well because it looks like how the setting should look like.
This play's goal was to make the audience laugh, since it is considered a comedy, but it does provide some seriousness to it as well. This play is about two separate relationships that ends up connecting in the end. One of the main characters, a man named Benedict, is secretly in love with a women named Beatrice. They both secretly love each other but argue all the time. Beatrice is the niece of Leonato, and Leonato is the father of Hero. Hero is loved by Claudio, and Claudio intends on marrying her. However, another character in the play tries to stop this from happening, which then creates a lot of drama. In the end, it doesn't matter because they end up together.
Overall, this play was comical and enjoyable to witness. The director, actors, and designers all did an excellent job on this production.
Much Ado About Nothing
By Jarad Reiser
Much can be said about the production "Much Ado About Nothing". The comedy was performed at UWS in the Holden Fine Arts Center. Director, Cathy A. Fank does a fine job at bringing light to an older production. This show could be enjoyed more by having knowledge of the story prior to attending. A sharp looking set and eager actors keep the audience's attention through-out this humorous story.
Upon entering the venue, first thing that attracts eye is the stage design. The tri-level stage provides flexibility for different scenes during the show. Having the fountain so close to the audience makes the experience more real! Many of the actors get right in the face of the audience, which makes the atmosphere of the set much more personal. Shouts from the actors become much more authentic when projected so closely. Deep colors on the stage offer a feel for the era when the play was created. The purple stage design has an elegant aspect to it; feeling as if the play was conducted in a royal setting. The whole stage design seemed very sturdy and well put together. Behind the set is a huge projection screen that helped set the mood during scene changes.
During scenes of turmoil and angry talk, the background turned a very solid red color indicating the emotions being projected on the stage. Other colors such as orange, green, blue and many more were used to help develop the emotions of the actors. Scene switches were pleasant to watch, usually resulting in the background altering color and the actors skipping gaily off the stage. A very entertaining way to change scenes. Many colorful and well designed outfits accompanied the versatile stage. White gesture looking people provided a creepy yet welcoming feeling. Beatrice's (Meghan O'Toole-Gott) red dress was a sight to see.
Another sight to see were the actors in the production. The hyper personality of Leonato (Darrin Stewart) made for many laughs in the crowd. His body language aided his bold facial expressions and energetic voice. He provided comic relief throughout some of the love scenes. Whichever actor referred to himself as an "ass" multiple times in the production was also very enticing for laughs. His short stature mixed with a confident personality was great. Hero (Laura Halvorsen) was a bit overwhelming with the constant laughter and giggles. The lead roles did their parts well, but some of the extra's could have added more personality to the show. During longs scenes of exchanged dialogue, the extra actors in the background were almost still. Stewarts body motions were enough to keep your eye on him and ignore the still acting of background characters.
Overall the show had a dynamic set, colorful scene changes, and exuberant acting. The seating options provided a great view of the performance as well. Keep in mind to know the story plot before attending to prevent some mild confusion from the style of speech that is used. Great Show!
The play took place in The Holden Fine Arts Center at University Wisconsin Superior on November 17, 2012. The play was directed by Kathy Frank, the play was a remake of William Shakespeare 1600 comedy using the tail of two different love groups. The review will cover a brief summary of the play, Pros and Cons about the play, and if the Author accomplished its achievements.
As stated in paragraph one the play resembled a shakespeare play from the 1600s titled MuchAdo About Nothing. The play was a comical drama about two love tales between the characters Claudio and Hero, also Benedict and Beatrice. The love stories get tricky when the character Don John a evil trickery of the villain plays some of his tricks on the couples. He tricks Claudio into rejecting Hero at the wedding (altar) after they had expressed their love deeply for one another. Don John also ticks Benedict and Beatrice by making them confess their love for one another. In the end the character Dog Berry figures Don John out and runs him out of the town while the couples all get happily married and everyone celebrates the marriages.
The play was meant to make the audience laugh, while they experience what a shakespeare audience would've experienced. Based on the goal it seems the author had there were few pros and cons that made this goal achieved and failed. One of the pros from the play were the costumes. The costumes resembled the clothes of a 1600 society, but a con with the costume was the clothes only resembled that time period but the hair styles and everything else seemed to be more modern. Another Pro is the use of a thrust stage to make the audience more connected with the crowd, but a con of using the thrust stage was the energy of the characters weren't connected with audience it seemed as if the actors/actresses were distant more than connected.
Finally was the grade the play received. The play passed, but it didn't achieve its goal fully. The play made the crowd laugh in certain parts and scenes, but what the play failed to do is make the audience feel connected to a shakespeare play and feel connected with the characters. The production had the right setting, the right atmosphere, but the actors/actresses just didn't bring the energy the play called for to get the crowd fully involved and connected to what an audience of shakespeare original production would've experienced. Even though it didn't fully achieve its goal the play was worth being displayed to the public because it had the comic relief, the characters, the setting, and the costumes for the most part matched the production of shakespeare original production, but the lack of energy just didn't seem like shakespeare caliber of a play. Overall this is a 3 out 5 stars.
Much Ado About Nothing
UWS had its last performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on Sunday in the Holden Fine Arts Center. The production, as a whole, did not do a service to one of William Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies.
Much Ado About Nothing is the tale of two completely different pairs of lovers. Claudio (Mitch Kieffer) is the noble and valiant soldier who falls for the sweet and innocent Hero (Laura Halvorsen). Then they take it upon themselves to fix up the confident bachelor, Benedick (Andrew Kirov), with the sharp and witty Beatrice (Meghan O’Toole-Gott). The problem is that Benedick and Beatrice are constantly at odds with each other, which leads to many comedic situations.
The director, Cathy A. Fank, decided to have this classic tale performed in the style of commedia dell’arte. The problem with doing a Shakespeare production in this style is that it takes much of the focus away from the verse and the characterization that are important components of his plays. It was difficult to know if it was the director’s vision or the poor performance of a few of the actors that made this production a subpar retelling of this well-known play.
Not all of the actors had poor performances, though. Andrew Kirov, who played Benedick, had a performance that was as inspiring as Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of this hilarious character. Kirov brought a level of realism to the stage, while at the same time he was able to maintain the exaggerated humor that is key in a commedia dell’arte production.
Meghan O’Toole-Gott’s representation of Beatrice was much more in the style of the commedia with her exaggerated personality, but she was still able to personify the character that Shakespeare originally wrote.
Laura Halvorsen’s Hero was entirely dissimilar to the usual portrayal of the character. Hero is usually the shy and sweet “girl next door” type. Halvorsen completely embraced the director’s style and took her performance way over the top. The character’s usual meek demeanor was replaced by a shrill and giggly teen. Halvorsen obviously has talent, but turned the play’s love interest into a humorous stock character in this production.
The major acting disappointment was Mitch Kieffer as Claudio. Kieffer took the valiant, war hero and presented him as a less than intelligent dreamer. This may have been a choice of Fank, the director, but it really distracted from the story of these men returning from war.
The best parts of this production were the scenic and costume designs. The set was eye-catching and worked very well with each of the individual scenes. The costumes were bright, colorful, and still period accurate.
Some individual performances were amazing, but for the most part, this production failed to represent what Shakespeare had originally intended.
Much Ado About Nothing, performed by the University of Wisconsin Superior, was a comedy written by William Shakespeare. However, the UWS rendition of the classic did not do the work it's due justice.
The story-line revolves around two completely different types of lovers. The production begins with an introduction of some of the main characters as they await the return of soldiers from war. Leonato is a kindly french gentleman who shares his house with his young daughter, Hero, his playful, clever niece Beatrice, and his elderly brother Antonio(who is Beatrice's father). The further plot unfolds as we meet the soldiers who return from war:Don Pedro, Don John, Benedick, and Claudio.
In short order, Claudio(Mitch Kieffer) falls in love with Hero(Laura Halvorsen), and the renewal of a witty yet tumultuous relationship springs anew between Benedick(Andrew Kirov) and Beatrice(Meghan O'Toole-Gott). Throughout the entire play, director Cathy Fank, resorted to a more simplistic approach to the piece than is generally seen. This vibe could be sensed through the entire play as the actors never really seemed to transform into their character to make it believable.
As the play continues, conflict erupts as a trouble-making Don John convinces several of his friends to defame Hero's good name and convince her lover Claudio that she is a whore. This act produces a dramatic wedding scene where Kieffer rejects a mortified Halvorsen at the alter because of Don Johns false accusations.
The falsehood climaxes before Kieffer realizes that his beloved Hero is innocent. The story then proceeds to end in a happy mood as good triumphs over evil.
Although many actors were a bit shaky in their parts, some individual actors did show promising acting ability if it were harnessed in the proper way. Namely Halvorsen who threw herself into her role, yet came across as over the top. Also Kirov, who played the part of Benedick showed skill, but his role could have been interpreted better by the director.
One excellent aspect of the play was the scenery and lighting design. The back-round, depicting a pleasant 16th century estate was very well crafted as the arches and doors almost seemed real. The lighting as well created an authentic aura that flowed nicely with the different feelings and emotions portrayed throughout the play.
Overall, a good word to describe UWS's performance of this classic would be unclear. It was difficult to follow the flow of the performance if one did not already know the intended story-line. It was interesting experiencing a play that had potential, but needed to be improved.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 9, 2012 8:10 AM.
Sailor Song - College of St. Scholastica was the previous entry in this blog.
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