THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

Jeffrey Schmidt and Tiffany Hobbs in&nbsp;<em>Much Ado About Nothing</em>&nbsp;at Shakespeare Dallas

Review: Much Ado About Nothing | Shakespeare Dallas | Samuell-Grand Amphitheater


Nothing Really Matters

At Shakespeare Dallas, Much Ado About Nothing has too many things amiss.



published Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photo: Linda Blase
Jeffrey Schmidt and Tiffany Hobbs and cast of Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Dallas

Dallas — There are many, many reasons audiences have loved Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for the last 400 years or so. The lively comedy has music, mischief, witty wordplay, thwarted and redeemed love, fools aplenty, villains, and a delicious battle-of-the-sexes subplot. Shakespeare Dallas and director Patrick Kelly aim to hit all of those highlights with their straightforward production; however, it still comes off as a bit stilted and bland.

All the right ingredients are there for the show to be great: the aforementioned can’t-miss source material; a pedigreed, effective director who is experienced with the Bard; beautiful and talented leads; and a similar (in many cases the same) artistic and technical crew who are working on the fantastic Tartuffe currently running at SD. It is mystifying, but the whole is not as good as the sum of these parts.

Photo: Linda Blase
Jeffrey Schmidt in Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Dallas

It is unnecessary to recount the well-trod plot. In fact, the opening night audience certainly had no problems following the story, often speaking lines along with the actors. Kenneth Branagh’s sun-kissed, wildly popular 1993 film version with its mix of British stage actors and Hollywood stars has done much to endear the play to modern (casual?) theatergoers.

Jeffrey Schmidt plays the lord of Padua, Benedick, who swears never to fall in love or marry. His portrayal is charming and funny, if a bit too clownish and vampy at times. Tellingly, Schmidt’s Benedick gets more laughs than the usually uproarious Dogberry (Ethan Norris); however, he generates little chemistry with his romantic foil, Beatrice (Tiffany Hobbs). It is difficult to see how the proud, delightful and disdainful Beatrice (especially as Hobbs plays her) would fall for such a silly Benedick.

One of the strongest parts of the cast is Christian Taylor’s portrayal of the evil bastard, Don John. It does not hurt that Taylor resembles a young and dashing Orson Welles as he plots and menaces with his manicured mustache and slicked-back hair.

Of the problems that plague the show, most of which are fixable: There is a static feeling to the play that is expressed through the rigid body positions of the actors. Although the usual habit of some performers to fidget or shuffle through their lines was gone on opening night, we had instead unnatural poses with lots of thumbs in belts and hands resting on sword pommels, incongruous to the action.

The fact that the sound was off at the performance reviewed also affected the play’s momentum. Microphones kept cutting in and out, especially Dogberry’s, and there was much shouting that overloaded the speakers. These issues and a particularly raucous crowd may also have contributed to the preponderance of pauses and breaks in the speeches. 

Perhaps one of the trickiest parts of staging Much Ado is that audiences tend to fixate on Benedick and Beatrice to the detriment of the primary plot and romantic leads, Hero (Audrey Ahern) and Claudio (Haulston Mann). If we do not care about the two young lovers and their plight we lose the balance of light and serious that propels the play, which is all the more reason to make sure to cast the parts properly and play them with vigor. 

All is not bad. The show’s musical sensibility and songs (composition by Max Hartman) comprise some of the best parts of the production. Hobbs even begins the show with a lovely rendition of the play’s “Sigh No More, Ladies” song. Jennifer J. Madison’s well-fitted and detailed period costumes stand out well in front of Donna Marquet’s simple set of cutout orange tree structures and white, geometric screens.

Even with all the aforementioned negatives, the healthy gates, happy faces and laughter speak volumes about the popularity of the play and this production’s ability (warts and all) to still please. And that is certainly much ado about something. 

» Our review of Tartuffe

» Much Ado About Nothing runs in rotating repertory with Tartuffe, here are the details:

  • Tartuffe Wednesdays-Fridays at 8:15 p.m. through July 18
  • Much Ado About Nothing runs Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:15 p.m. through July 19
  • Mondays are dark
 Thanks For Reading




Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Nothing Really Matters
At Shakespeare Dallas, Much Ado About Nothing has too many things amiss.
by M. Lance Lusk

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center Explorers Club Amphibian Nutcracker Jubilation Zoot Suit Dallas Childrens Theatre A Civil War Christmas SantaLand Diaries Black Nativity Dallas Childrens Theatre Santaland Diaries Calendar Girls Dallas Opera Explorers Irving arts Center
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit