MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING; Provo Theatre Company; 105 E. 100 North; closes Feb. 25 (379-0600); running time, 2 hours, 10 minutes with one 10-minute intermission).
PROVO — Provo Theatre Company's production, "Much Ado About Nothing," is really quite something.
Director Christopher Clark has taken Shakespeare's comedy to a whole new wonderful level of entertainment as he has set this production in post World War I Italy. You'll still have to adjust your ears to Shakespearean time, but the modern setting seems to help the audience better understand what's going on.
The basic story revolves around two couples, one passionately in love and the other blatantly opposed to one another. When friends and family get involved in advancing these romances, the "much ado" nearly ruins both couples.
The cast for this show has melded together into a well-oiled, smooth-running machine.
Many of these folks are not only good improv actors but are comfortable with Shakespeare, too. Leading the troupe are Hailey Smith (Beatrice), Brett Merritt (Benedick), David Bunnell (Claudio), and Alexis Wardle (Hero). These four are entertaining and seem very comfortable in their parts. Smith and Merritt have their parts nailed. They bring a tension to the stage that makes the performance that much better. J. Scott Bronson (Lenoato), and Hillary Straga (Dona Joan) round out the principles with some great performances. Straga has been outfitted in outlandish Cruella de Ville type costuming that makes her persona (usually a man's part) quite intriguing.
While the entire play ebbs and flows smoothly, the swimming scene with the men is the standout. The audience gets a very up close and personal opportunity to share in the moment. The costumes, for the most part, are adapted to the period. The set design lends itself to a variety of settings and is cleverly done while remaining simple and easy to change.
For an opening night, this group was professional and well-prepared.
Sensitivity rating: May be to hard to understand for children. Best suited for those 12 and older.
If you go . . .
What: "Much Ado About Nothing"
Where: Provo Theatre Company, 105 E. 100 North, Provo
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-Feb. 25
How much: $ 15/$12.50