Weather ’tis nobler

Much Ado About Nothing

Benedick (Kiernan Connolly) and Beatrice (Leslie Brott) engage in witty gender warfare.

Benedick (Kiernan Connolly) and Beatrice (Leslie Brott) engage in witty gender warfare.

“Friendship is constant in all other things save in the office and affairs of love,” says Claudio in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It seems that the weather in Nevada is just as changing and unpredictable—especially when a sudden cold front blows through the Sierra and brings chilling rain and the snow level down to 9,000 feet. Still, there was a large turnout for a Thursday night at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor, where they were scheduled to perform Much Ado About Nothing.

My mom and I came prepared with a thermos of hot tea, jackets, hats, gloves and blankets. The concessionaires were selling lots of hot beverages and hot food, as well as yellow, plastic ponchos, to the crowd. We decided to bring our own food and have a picnic. Our seats were in the lower gallery, which is open seating, so we showed up an hour before the start of the show to secure decent seats. In all sections but the upper gallery, there are seats provided—beach chairs set up theater-style on a sandy slope. Even with the on-and-off rain, the mood was lively and the crowd seemed to be enjoying the novel weather—it definitely added an air of adventure to the whole endeavor.

A few minutes prior to the start of the play, a small group of the actors began milling about through the audience and interacting with them. One woman was singled out of the crowd and serenaded to by a man wearing a white ’40s-style sailor uniform, a hint of what was to come in the play.

The play is set in Sicily and takes place at the villa of Leonato (Dan Kremer), the governor of Messina. This production is set in the 1940s—complete with Italian New Yorker gangsters and various musical numbers including a crooned rendition of “It Had to Be You.” The stage was simple yet well done, and the backdrop of Lake Tahoe makes it stunning.

The play, a romantic comedy, starts out briskly with a meeting of the two young lovers Claudio (Cameron Knight) and Hero (Ariel Woodiwiss). After a slight misunderstanding and bit of jealousy, the two are engaged to be married, not without complications. However, a far more interesting and spirited exchange happens in the subplot between the characters Beatrice (Leslie Brott) and Benedick (Kiernan Connolly). Not only are the roles written with more depth of character, the actors who portray the two do a fantastic job. Brott embodies the sassy and witty Beatrice with finesse. Even after the actors’ microphones went out shortly after the play started, and it was difficult to hear them delivering their lines, Beatrice had the audience captivated. Her exchanges with Benedick, whose portrayal by Connolly was also exceptional, were incredibly entertaining. Beatrice and Benedick spend the majority of the time trying to outdo each other with witty putdowns.

The weather ultimately interfered with the performance I saw—as I mentioned before, the microphones went out and it became very hard to hear everything onstage. The actors were having a tough go of it, but did a commendable job of working with the circumstances. Unfortunately, after a hilarious and fairly captivating scene where Claudio, Leonato and Don Pedro (David Alan Anderson) plot to get Beatrice and Benedick back together, a voice came over the speakers saying that the play was being cancelled due to the weather. The audience seemed disappointed—after all, we had endured the first half of the play. However, the LTSF gave audience members the option to reschedule for a future performance at their convenience and at no charge. I am looking forward to doing it again—next time hopefully in better weather.