Friday, August 17, 2012

WILLamette Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing

This is our third viewing of Much Ado About Nothing in a year! Last summer we saw Portland Actors Ensemble and earlier this year our favorite Northwest Classical Theater Company.  Today we see WILLamette Shakespeare's production.  This is our first time seeing this company's work.

My first observation was that Willamette Shakespeare's production values are much higher than we usually see with outdoor (and indoor, for that matter) Shakespeare.  I gasped when I saw the list of donors and amounts.  They seem to be much better supported than the companies we usually support.  I am a fan of the bare bones productions, so I have to admit I was a little standoffish from the get-go.

Then, there was an incredibly obnoxious woman selling raffle tickets who was very loud and insistent and spoke with a fake English accent.  While I appreciate her enthusiasm and support, she was very annoying and produced the opposite effect in that I did not give any money or buy a raffle ticket because I didn't want her to continue broadcasting her loud voice over my attempts at conversation.

So we weren't off to the best start, as far as I was concerned, but once the actors took the stage the show was delightful.  First off, we saw Ithica Tell in NWCTC's King John last fall and really liked her.  In this production, she played a marvelous Beatrice.  It was a role where she cavorted and verbally jousted and capered across the stage.  She was quite fun to watch and I hope to see more of her.  People I also enjoyed in this picture were Holly Wigmore's Hero and Clara Weishahn was a good Ursula, rocking the sexy librarian look.  Also, Kristopher Mahoney-Watson who played Conrade as well as a Messenger had an amazing deep and lush voice.  The program says "he is an avid metal fan and an amateur basketball player with delusions of one day making it in the NBA," but as far as I'm concerned, he could get a job reading the phone book with that voice.
Claudio was played by Chris Ringkamp and Jason Maniccia was a delighful Benedict.  We've just seen him in two NWCTC's plays this year, Measure for Measure and Hamlet.
Here are our musicians for the evening: Ali Ippolito and Jason Okamoto.  They provided lovely music to set the stage.
One fun thing about Portland right now is that with the amount of Shakespeare going on you get to see actors in many different roles in many different companies.  On the left, you can see Clara-Liis Hillier as Dogberry.  We recently saw her with OPSFest and in NWCTC's Much Ado About Nothing.  She played a different role then.
 So overall, it was a fantastic performance and we will be seeking out Willamette Shakespeare again.  If that obnoxious lady isn't hectoring, I will also donate money.


balyien said...

That looks like it was so much fun! This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

Patricia said...

I have to say that after seeing it so many times I greatly enjoy it too. While I was watching it this time, I was thinking about bumping it up to "favorite after Midsummer Night's Dream" status.

Sara K. said...

It is so fun to see many versions of the same play. I love that Shakespeare's work is still relevant today and relatively adaptable in so many ways. It makes multiple viewings quite fun.