recommended There are many theater audiences who cannot get excited about viewing a Shakespeare play. Partly because of the length of the productions, but of greater importance the language and the difficulty is staying with his plots that take a long time to unfold. I for one enjoy listening to the brilliant words written and of course the beautiful way the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier produces their cleaner, more modern versions. They also do short Shakespeare to introduce youngsters to these classics of theater. There is another way to present the Bard’s work as one can see in the studio theater at CST through mid-February as the Q Brothers remounts their “Hip-hopation” version of “Much Ado About Nothing” in a 73 minute Hip version called “Funk It Up About Nothin'” featuring a cast of six taking on all the roles and characters; five actors and a very special DJ, Adrienne Sanchez, a local legend playing all the clubs in and around Chicago ( and on the road as well). One cannot do Hip-Hop unless there is a “Sanchez” to make the sounds rhythmic and keep the pace flowing- she is a master at what she does!
The Q brothers, GQ and JQ, who are co-creators , co-directors and take on many of the key roles in this slick and solid production are masters at what they do as well. To take a Shakespeare masterpiece and bring it down to just over an hour with a cast of five and keep the basic story intact is not an easy task. For those of you who saw the original version back in 2008, this is even better! The energy of this glorious and very talented troupe is amazing. And guess what, we get to see the new version right before they head off on the Australia Tour, playing in seven theaters all over the country. This is indeed an honor and we as audiences of CST should count our seeing it first as an honor as well. The other powerful performers in this production are the beautiful Ericka Ratcliff who handles comedy quite well, the adorable Jillian Burfete ( a young and strong performer who I am sure we will see more of in the future), Postell Pringle and the incredible Jackson Doran ( who has graced many of our town’s area theaters with his strong talent). Add the Q Brothers who take on many roles themselves and a marvelous set by Brian Sydney Bembridge ( almost a cross between Avenue Q and Sesame Street with a neat skyline of Chicago in the background), incredible costumes by Debbie Baer, Lighting by Toby Knyvett and sound by James Savage. This is what theater is all about- a diversion from our everyday lives; time away from wondering will he or won’t he be allowed on the ballot, will my company still be around when it’s time for me to retire and will Jay Cutler be our starting QB for 2011/2012 season. Who cares? Just get out of the house and spend a little time at Navy Pier laughing your posterior off. I know I did!
“Much Ado About Nothing” is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and as most of them do, there is love, love lost, love regained, confusion, identity conflicts, class conflicts and in normal cases three hours of hard to understand language that dates back hundreds of years. This version is NOW! and while it covers most of what The Bard was writing about, this language and the high energy we see is enough to keep our interest. I am sure that many of the audience members, some who may never have seen “Much Ado” cared how close the script follows the story despite its language being very foreign- they all appeared to love it and so will you! “Funk It Up” will run through February 13th – for show times, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/funk. Tickets range in price from $25-$30 ( well worth it for this much fun) and can be purchased by calling 312-595-5600 or online at www.chicagoshakes.com/funk.
There is discounted parking ( $10) so bring your parking ticket to the theater for this. there are also lots of great spots to have your dinner as well -from snack to feast- checkout www.navypier.com