Burns & Cane Say “Much Ado About Nothing” Is as Close to Flawless as a Night at the Theater Can Be [Berkshire on Stage]

Much Ado Madness – Foreground: Christina Pumariega, Christopher Innvar and Gretchen Egolf. Background: David Bishins, David Ryan Smith and Gordon Stanley. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Much Ado Madness – Foreground: Christina Pumariega, Christopher Innvar and Gretchen Egolf. Background: David Bishins, David Ryan Smith and Gordon Stanley. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Theatre review and discussion by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: Is there anything Julianne Boyd can’t do? Here in the already Shakespeare-rich Berkshires, the artistic director of the formidable Barrington Stage Company deemed it the right time to direct the company’s first attempt at a Shakespearean play, “Much Ado About Nothing.” She served it in Messina, Sicily, in the mid-1930s, dressed it as a screwball comedy of that era, spiced it with an original score by Andrew Gerle, and hot damn! It’s delicious.

Gail M. Burns: I saw the A.J. Antoon production of “Much Ado…” on Broadway as a teenager and promptly announced that this was my favorite Shakespearean comedy. In the intervening decades I have seen productions that made me question that selection, but Boyd’s interpretation gave me back the play I fell in love with. This “Much Ado..” is funny and timely and touchingly human.

Roseann: Even before we set eyes on the actors, Gerle’s lush music, initially played by a duo, then performed almost throughout by a quartet of fine musicians on mandolin, violin, guitar, clarinet and accordion, ushers us into Michael Anania’s sundrenched set of golds and oranges, yellows and blues. Sara Jean Tosetti’s vibrant Sicilian costumes are every bit as stunning.

Gail: The mark of good stage costumes is not only how they look but how they move. Tosetti’s set time, place, and rank while allowing the actors to engage in Boyd’s vigorous physical comedy, Cassie Abate’s exquisite choreography, and Ryan Winkles’ fight scenes.

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