Monday, March 8, 2010

Notes about Something at A Noise Within

Terri Higginson (Beatrice) JD Cullum (Benedick)
Photo by Craig Schwartz

An uneven production of any Shakespeare play still has the words. If the actors can get the words out, the show is ahead of the game. Fortunately, director Michael W. Murray’s hand is firmly on the tiller within the gorgeous confines of Kurt Boetcher’s efficient set, well delineated by Ken Booth’s lights making for only a few minor issues and, in fact, a production that friends of the Bard should make time for. As Shakespeare does now and then, this story of love; star-crossed lovers… though Beatrice (the vigorous Tori Higgenson) and Benedick (agile JD Cullum) are mostly crossed up by themselves, provides for an entertaining two and a half hours of Much Ado About Nothing.

Because Murray has set the play in the early 20th Century I had some issues with somewhat intrusive recorded music that could have been provided by an on stage musician or even a Victrola. As we hear the actors easily from the stage, the music sometimes took precedence when its purpose, mostly, should have been to support the scene. However, Julia Rodriguez-Elliott’s choreography and the ability of the actors to dance and deliver lines at the same time shows the professionalism that we’ve come to expect from the soon-to-be-absent-from-Glendale Classical Theatre Company.

Don Pedro (Patrick O’Connell) has come to visit his old friend, Leonato (Apollo Dukakis), the Mayor of Messina. In his retinue are Benedick and Claudio (sincere Brandon Hearnsberger), who is immediately smitten with Leonato’s dimutive daughter, Hero (Lindsay Gould). The title of the play may come from an early exchange between Claudio and Benedick when Claudio asks if Benedick has ‘noted’ Hero. Benedick, the sworn for life bachelor says that he ‘looked on her, but noted her not.’ And goes on to say that Leonato’s niece, the stormy Beatrice, was attractive to him if it weren’t for her contrary nature. Thus, "noting" and "looking upon" evolve to the final scene where both Beatrice and Benedick have composed ‘notes’ of love to one another. Much Ado About "Noting."

Highlights of the production spark groundlings like me when Dogberry (spot on Mark Bramhall) and his crew, including Verges, his constable (Mitchell Edmonds), arrive at the beginning of Act II and over hear one of Don John’s (well greased and all in black Stephen Rockwell), henchman, Borachio (Steve Weingartner) brag that he’s been paid to make Hero look like a harlot the night before her wedding to Claudio. Shakespeare is most fun in his presentation of misspoken utterances and pure slapstick. Bramhall stops the show. His Dogberry is worth seeing again.

Run away ‘bowers’ and general good humor make this production a must see for friends of the company and fans of Shakespeare who can roll with the punches. More attention to wigs might be an idea as well as keeping the music acoustical.

Continues in repertory with Awake and Sing (opening March 20th) and Playboy of the Western World (Opening April 17th) through May 21, 2010.

A Noise Within
234 S. Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA
818 240 0910 x 1
$44 top


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