‘Much Ado About Nothing’ opens at Parkrose High

Find out why, unlike a Seinfeld episode, this Shakespeare comedy is filled with romance and intrigue …

With a hint of romance in the air, dastardly intrigue is taking place in shadows of the Town Square – in the Parkrose High School Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Parkrose High School Theater curtain went up, as Thespian Troupe #1783 members and theater class actors presented what many critics consider the best comedy written by William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.

At a dress rehearsal, Parkrose High Theater Instructor Tom Cavanaugh said, “It’s a good choice of material. I personally really enjoy Shakespeare – but it was the students who chose this show, back last spring.”

Benedick (played by Gabriel Davis) wonders aloud about the mysteries of life – and love.

At the same time, Benedick’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Beatrice (Bailey Golar), niece of Governor Leonato, wonders if she’ll ever see her wedding day.

This version of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the present day, with the aim of making Shakespeare more relevant for audience that otherwise might avoid seeing one of his plays, Cavanaugh confided to East Portland News.

The use of nominal stage trappings, evocative lighting, and music, focuses attention on the actors as they play out Shakespeare’s quirky and comedic love story.

Trouble starts brewing when Princess of Aragon Don Pedro (Llake Willow Anderson) gets a text message that she reads to her “best male friend” Count Claudio (Sage Krening), saying that his fiancée has been spotted involved in hanky-panky before their wedding.

To some, it’s clearly apparent that something untoward is going on behind the window shades!

About the story …
Two couples explore the meaning of love and romance – while outside influences try either to bring the lovers closer, or to rip them apart.

Throughout the play, Benedick and Beatrice wittily argue and bicker, declaring their distain for love – and especially for marriage. Theirs is a journey from rivalry and near hostility, to genuine fondness – bubbling over with a wealthy sense of humor and empathy.

Standing behind her deputies (Paige Heidrick and Ash Martin), Night Watch Constable Dogberry (Harrison Lusby) lays out the plan to capture slanderers, with the approval of her chief deputy, Verges (Kailey Miller).

Hero (Hannah Hamling) holds a bridal bouquet and listens, while her daddy – Governor Leonato (Jason Gutierrez) – learns her wedding to Count Claudio will not take place.

Their story is intertwined with the lovely and faithful Hero and Claudio. Claudio is hoodwinked into dumping Hero at her wedding altar, on the incorrect belief that she has been two-timing him.

While it looks as if the romance Beatrice and Benedick is growing – will this relationship end in a fistfight – or a wedding?

  • Can Dogberry, the delightfully swaggering constable in charge of town’s night watch, finally discover the deception, and who is behind the mischief, before it’s too late?
  • It is possible for Governor Leonato help mend his daughter’s broken heart, after she was left standing at the alter?
  • Will the lies lead to swordplay and death – or to a grand wedding ceremony?

 Come and see Much Ado About Nothing, and all will be merrily revealed.

The cast of Much Ado About Nothing takes a bow after the performance.

Much Ado About Nothing continues a two-weekend run
Enjoy seeing the Parkrose High student actors in one of Shakespeare’s best comedies. It’s loaded with plenty of laughs, along with themes revealing the meaning of honor, shame, and court politics.

Curtain is at 7:00 p.m. as the show continues on November 8 and 9, and again on November 14, 15, and 16.

Tickets are available at the door: $8/adults; $5 students and seniors. The play is presented in the Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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