The Shakespeare Theatre Company continues its 2011-2012 Season with the return of Ethan McSweeny (The Merchant of Venice, The Persians, Ion, Major Barbara) directing Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. This story of true love and lies comes to life on the Company's Sidney Harman Hall stage (610 F Street NW) from November 25, 2011-January 1, 2012.
A classic tale of matched wits and love, Much Ado About Nothing explores the trials and tribulations of romance. The audience will fall in love and laugh along with this play filled with fun, loveable and devious characters. Everyone can see that Beatrice and Benedick are meant for each other except Beatrice and Benedick. Hero and Claudio, themselves newly betrothed, conspire to trick them into announcing their feelings and falling for each other. Meanwhile, a bitter and troublesome Don John schemes to destroy Claudio and Hero's engagement by besmirching Hero's honor. Touted as "one of the hottest directors to come out of Washington" by The Washingtonian, Ethan McSweeny directs Shakespeare's classic tale.
Much Ado About Nothing is set on a sugar cane plantation in hot and sultry 1930s Cuba. McSweeny was inspired by a previous production of Much Ado directed by his co-artistic director Vivienne Benesch at the Chautauqua Theater Company. He was so taken by the concept that he decided to further exploring the setting. "It's an interesting challenge to return to STC so close on the heels of The Merchant of Venice and with such a different play as Much Ado," says McSweeny. "I don't think anyone would claim that Shakespeare's Sicily and Cuba in the '30s are identical, but if you scratch the surface the parallels ring true: including proximal low level civil conflicts, a society with a strong religious influence, a native sense of machismo, heat and above all, sexiness. And then there's that great Cuban music and dancing which we will utilize for its maximum celebratory impact."
Some familiar faces will return to the Shakespeare Theatre Company in the lead roles: Kathryn Meisle as Beatrice and Derek Smith as Benedick. "I am thrilled that Kathryn graciously accepted the role of Beatrice; it's great to welcome her back to STC and to have a dynamic pairing in she and Derek Smith again," says STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn. McSweeny adds of Smith, who recently appeared as Antonio in STC's The Merchant of Venice, "Derek was extraordinary in Merchant; he was the first person to come to mind when I was casting Benedick and I am grateful that he will take this ride with me again."
For tickets and more information, please call 202.547.1122 or visit ShakespeareTheatre.org.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING CAST
Kathryn Meisle plays Beatrice; last seen at STC as Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal, Meisle will once again be paired with Derek Smith in a leading role. She has many Broadway credits including Elmire in Tartuffe, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Her other Broadway credits include A Touch of the Poet, The Constant Wife, London Assurance, The Rehearsal and Racing Demon. Meisle can be seen in the films You've Got Mail and Rosewood. Her many television credits include Body of Proof, Private Practice, The Closer, Bones, Lie to Me, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, NYPD Blue and Oz.
Derek Smith returns to STC to play Benedick. Last seen as Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Smith played Romeo in the Shakespeare Theatre Company's first production of Romeo and Juliet in 1986. He also appeared at STC in The School for Scandal, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and The Doctor's Dilemma. His Broadway credits include The Green Bird for which he received a Tony Award nomination, The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring 'Round the Moon, Getting and Spending and Scar in The Lion King. Off-Broadway, Smith has appeared in Sylvia, King John, Dark Rapture, Cruise Control, Ten By Tennessee, The Green Bird and The Witch of Edmonton. Smith has been seen in more than 20 plays regionally and internationally including 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Serpent Woman, Hamlet, Misalliance and The Servant of Two Masters at The American Repertory Theatre.