'Much Ado' opens at Gallery
Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors 62 and older. On April 6, Gallery is starting a new “First Saturdays” discount program with 2-for-1 admission.
Shakespeare fan Chris Benham is directing the play, which tells the story of a couple, Claudio and Hero, whose wedding plans are spoiled by lies told by the villainous Don John. It includes plenty of subterfuge, mistaken identity and other plot twists, Benham said.
“Shakespeare’s plots aren’t new, but his way of telling stories is amazing. His use of language is incredible,” said Benham, a George Fox University graduate who has directed and appeared in numerous shows at Gallery.
While the Bard’s fans love it, “Much Ado About Nothing” also is a great show for people who are new to Shakespeare’s work, Benham said. The comedy is easy for general audiences to understand.
“It’s the most human of Shakespeare’s comedies,” he said. “All the main characters are real humans who interact like real people. That makes it more accessible to a modern audience.”
In addition, he said, “it’s just hilarious.”
The play was written about 400 years ago. Gallery’s version won’t be set in Shakespeare’s time period, though. Rather, Benham said, he’s setting the show in the 1870s in the American West.
The characters are part of a group of soldiers on their way home from the Civil War. “They’re looking forward to a happy homecoming,” he said.
Costumes are authentic to the period. Costumer Matthew Bishop is interested in Civil War re-enactments, Benham said, so he’s perfect for the job. Julia Richardson is assisting.
“I’m very excited about the costumes. They’re very rich, very right,” the director said.
The set, in the Gallery’s intimate Arena Theater, features many textures and layers and makes use of every bit of space, he said. Benham sketched the initial set design, which was brought to life by construction foreman Josh Wolfe.
The cast is a mixture of experienced actors who love doing Shakespeare plays and those who are new to the stage. Members include:
Richard Pratt as Don Pedro, Lane Baldoni as Don John, Seth Mayhew as Claudio, James Scoggins as Benedick, Norm Tognazzini as Leonato, Torrey Smith as Antonio, Josh Wolfe as Conrade, RJay Carey as Borachio, David Anderson as Friar Francis, Skyler Wolfe as Hero, April Wilcox as Beatrice, Jessie Morgan as Margaret, Kari Trickey as Ursula, Kevin Hamler-Dupras as Dogberry, Rolan Cranford as Verges, Brandon Ullom as Sexton, Sammi Riffle as Messenger/1st Watch, Brad Wilcox as 2nd Watch and Bryce Diven as 3rd Watch.
For reservations and more information, call the theater box office, at 503-472-2227.