Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Guthrie Theater's Much Ado about Nothing

David Manis (Don Pedro), Daniel Gerroll (Benedick) and Bill McCallum (Claudio) in the Guthrie Theater's production of William Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Joe Dowling with set design by Riccardo Hernández, costume design by Fabio Toblini and lighting design by Christopher Akerlind. September 10 - November 5, 2011 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow
As I mentioned here, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the opening night of The Guthrie Theater's new production of Much Ado about Nothing last Friday night. They had an offer of free tickets for bloggers and I jumped at the chance. We are former season ticket holders, but after having a baby and going down to one income, some of our entertainment expenses had to go. Fortunately, we have been able to see a few shows since then thanks to free tickets through my husband's work, and once through Facebook as I mentioned here.

We were excited to attend the show on opening night. The building was abuzz with energy and packed with people. It was fun to be a part of that. When we got our tickets and headed into the Wurtele Thrust theater, we realized they were great seats. Joe Dowling (the artistic director of the Guthrie and director of Much Ado) was only three rows in front of us and we had perfect sight lines to the whole stage.

Unfortunately since I had little time to prepare before seeing the show, I hadn't visited the Guthrie website and read the play guide like I usually do. My husband and I quickly scanned the program notes before the lights went down. A thrifty theatre tip: many theater websites offer background information about the plays being performed, and the Guthrie website specifically has a lot of great resources. They are free and can really improve your experience, as you are aware of the background of the show, historical facts, playwright biography, etc beforehand.

The play is one of Shakespeare's best-loved romantic comedies. The Guthrie has decided to set it in the 1920's, and the music, sets, and costumes reflect that age well. The story centers around two couples, one young, and one middle-aged. The middle-aged couple, Beatrice and Benedick, provide much comedy throughout the show as they are both very sharp-tongued in their critique of the opposite sex as well as of each other. The actors playing those roles had great chemistry, and their scenes together moved briskly and kept us laughing. A memorable scene involved Benedick hiding in an orange grove to overhear a conversation, with hilarious results. Some scenes without those leading characters seemed to drag a bit, but interjections by Don John, the evil illigitimate brother, and Dogberry, the bumbling police officer, helped to keep us engaged in this long (almost 3-hour) production.

At intermission, we completed our usual tradition of sharing a glass of wine and walking out on the Endless Bridge, an amazing archetectural feature of the Guthrie building. We go out there every time we see a show, even in winter when it's below freezing outside. There is a wonderful view of the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River. The building is open to the public and free self-guided audio tours as well as paid tours are available, a fun and thrifty thing to do any time of year.

As it was opening night, after the show the audience was invited to a reception in the lobby complete with wine, a nice touch to end the (late) evening. Much Ado about Nothing was an enjoyable show, and the atmosphere of the Guthrie Theater added to the evening as usual.

** Disclaimer- I was given two free tickets to the show by the Guthrie Theater's communications department. I was welcome to blog about my experience but did not have to.

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