Chicago is a town filled with talent! I keep making this statement, because I truly feel that we have some bright, up and coming young actors who can truly go places. The biggest problem for many is what is called “paying one’s dues”, which means taking on some roles in some plays that would have been better off left alone. But, realizing that an actor wants to act and to build up their “resume”, they often take on roles in plays that do not fit them, or worse yet, they waste their talent doing something that not only does not show their ability,but also might give them a bad image. I try to give every theater company the benefit of seeing what they have to offer and reviewing them, even when they are short runs.
I am happy to say that the re-mount of Nothing Special Productions, “The Most Ado: a Party Play”, is in fact, a very short run at Theater Wit. Two weeks! This young company, in order to make the show fit the theater, has taken down all the seating on risers that make it a theater.In its stead they have filled the theater with assorted seats, couches, futons, benches and other seating facsimiles with the rest of the floor area, the stage. When entering the Theater number 3), we are greeted by a “host”and remain in this cubicle until they get the crowd in- Then we are allowed to grab any seat that we want (this is an open seating theater, but if you prefer not moving about , you can stay in your chosen seat for both acts). We are invited to move about along with some of the cast members, but they would prefer we do not stand for the show.
This is an extreme adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” by Mikey Laird that played at The Den Theatre last year. Once again, Laird directs this satire filled with music and merriment along with some dance and several moments when the audience gets into the production. It is definitely a young person’s show and one that a true lover of Shakespeare should avoid as they do many hand stands with the original masterpiece.
The music supplied by Tank & The Beez is well done and there are some well-known pieces in the production such as a stirring “Grapevine” and a finale featuring “Shout”, with a full-blown audience participation dance along. The story is about lost love and love triumphing a man who will never wed, Benedick (a clever interpretation by Mike Schiff in a role he played in the previous production) and how he ends up with the alluring Beatrice (deftly handled by the lovely Kasey O’Brien). The other love story is between Beatrice’s cousin Hero solidly played by Libby Conkie) and her betrothed, Claudio (Raymond Jaquet). There are mistaken identities, plots and schemes to prove who truly is pure and who is not, and like many of Shakespeare’s works (and one of his titles) “All’s Well That Ends Well” , as the twists and turns do take us to a happy ending.
Getting there takes two hours and fifteen minutes (with an intermission), and for many, a little longer than they had hoped for. With people moving about for the second act, a few may have hit Belmont seeking refuge from this wild party. At least, for a real drink. Oh, yes. You can bring your drinks into the theater and you might want to figure on several. The entire show is a party and they are all drinking (not really, after all they are actors), so why not the visitors. They begin the second act with a lot of drunks on the stage , some sleeping it off, others throwing up and in all, a lot of wasted time and talent creating no laughs in what they call a comedy.
There are some impressive performances though :Brian Rohde as Leonato, Moira Begale, Celeste Burns, Dennis Davies, Matt Drake, and Steve Wisegarver lead the ensemble as well as David Stobbe , Daniel Vuillaume , Scott Patrick Sawa, Sarah Shirkey, Melanie Kibbler, Steve Gonabe, Jesse Greco, Kaitlin Fleharly, Nathan Burns, and Ben Schlotfelt. I think I have them all. They are a highly energetic cast of young actors doing the best they can with the material they were given. It is after all, a spoof of a comedy by the best- I for one prefer the original instead of this modern adaptation, where there are far to many “F” -bombs and other language ,that need not be there, except to maybe arouse a drunken laugh.
Oh well, maybe I am just to old for this type of “humor” and maybe one needs to have a few drinks before the show to get into the mood for the “party”. You can see for yourself, and the tickets are only $15 (a bit more than a movie). The run of “The Most Ado” continues at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont through August 24th with performances as follows:
Saturday, Monday the 18th, Thursday the 21st-Saturday the 23rd all at 7:30 p,m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Call the box office at 773-975-8150 or visit www.theaterwit.org
To learn more about this company, visit www.NothingSpecialProductions.com
To see what others are saying visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Most Ado” a Party Play