Shakespeare’s much-beloved English language classic, a perennial favorite worldwide, opens at The Stagecrafters on Friday, April 5. With a plot brimming with deceptions of all kinds, masquerading, eavesdropping, and trick-playing, the playwright created a high comedy of romance and villainy that has been delighting audiences throughout the world for more than 400 years! The play tells the tale of how two pairs of lovers who, before their mutual affections ‘conquer all’, are put to the trying test of assorted misunderstandings and obstacles that others, and they themselves, throw into their paths. The continuing focus of attention is the hilarious and biting ‘merry war of the sexes’ waged by one of these duos, Beatrice and Benedick, whose verbal jousting features some of the author’s wittiest wordplay.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. His works include 39 plays, plus a large body of sonnets and other poetry. He grew up in Stratford-Upon-Avon and enjoyed a long and successful career in London, not only as an actor/writer, but also part-owner of a production company called The Lord Chamberlain’s. His plays run the gamut: comedies … A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It; Twelfth Night; historical pieces: Henry V, Richard III; tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear.
He is thought to have completed Much Ado About Nothing in 1598, though it did not have its first formal performance until the winter of 1612-1613 at the royal court. In productions over the centuries, its singular protagonists Benedick and Beatrice stand out as belonging among the most sought-after parts in theater repertories. The esteemed John Gielgud made Benedick the signature role of his career, from 1931–1959, opposite the Beatrices of Peggy Ashcroft and Margaret Leighton. Katherine Hepburn played Beatrice in a 1957 production at Stratford, Ontario. The longest Broadway run of the play, in 1972, showcased Sam Waterston as Benedick; the Tony Award for Best Actor in a leading role (Benedick) was earned by Derek Jacobi in 1984; and in 2013, James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave (both well past seventy!) held forth in a bold production at The Old Vic in London!
Performance dates are: Friday, April 5 – Saturday, April 20. Tickets are available at $21.00 Online (no service charge), $25.00 At-door. (Thu. & Fri. eve performances 2-for-$32 Online, 2-for-$35 At-door). Students with valid ID $15.00, Seniors $22 (At-door, any performance). Groups of 15 or more are offered a reduced rate of $15.00 a ticket, paid in advance. The box office opens 45 minutes before each performance. For information call 215-247-8881; for reservations-direct call 215-247-9913. The theater is located in the heart of Chestnut Hill at 8130 Germantown Ave. Visit website for details: www.thestagecrafters.org.
Special NOTE: A “Meet the Cast and Director” Q & A session will be held following the performance on Friday, April 12. All attendees at that performance are welcome to stay afterwards!