Announcing Our 2014 Summer Season
Much Ado About Nothing
“Speak low if you speak of love”
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kim DeLong, MSC Artistic Director
Sparkling wit takes center stage and plays matchmaker to a confirmed free spirit and an equally marriage resistant bachelor in this tale of two sassy singles, Beatrice and Benedick.
As one of Shakespeare’s liveliest and wittiest comedies, Much Ado interweaves two plots and two pairs of lovers. After beautiful Hero becomes engaged to the dashing Count Claudio, the couple helps trick an unlikely pair of sweethearts into falling in love: Hero’s sharp tongued cousin, Beatrice, and a confirmed bachelor named Benedick. But while Hero and Claudio plan their lighthearted games, the jealous Don John plots a darker deception that will stir up much ado about everything.
Their two stories of romantic love take quite different journeys to this comedy’s happy ending.
Leonato, a respectable nobleman, lives with his lovely young daughter, Hero, his clever niece, Beatrice, and his elderly brother, Antonio (Beatrice’s father).
As the play begins, Leonato welcomes friends home from war: the Prince Don Pedro; Benedick a witty, yet confirmed bachelor; Count Claudio, a well-respected young nobleman; and Don John, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother. Don John is sullen and bitter, and takes pleasure in creating trouble for the others.
When the soldiers arrive at Leonato’s home, Benedick and Beatrice resume their war of witty insults that hints at a troubled past between them. Claudio quickly falls in love with Hero and they pledge soon to be married. But they are also determined to get Beatrice and Benedick – who are clearly meant for each other – to stop arguing and fall in love. Their tricks prove successful, and Beatrice and Benedick are soon secretly smitten with each other.
But Don John, jealous of Claudio, has decided to disrupt everyone’s happiness. He convinces Claudio that Hero is unfaithful and Don John asks his friend, Boracchio, to pretend to woo a Hero ‘look-alike’ while Claudio looks on in the darkness of night. Believing he has been dishonored, the enraged Claudio humiliates Hero by accusing her of lechery on the day of their wedding. He abandons her at the altar and Hero crumbles.
Beatrice, convinced of Hero’s honor, helps with a plan to pretend that Hero has suddenly died of grief. Hero is to be hidden away until the truth of her innocence has come to light. In the aftermath of the rejection, Benedick and Beatrice finally confess their love to one another, and Beatrice demands that Benedick kill his good friend, Claudio, for breaking Hero’s heart.
Fortunately, the night watchmen overhear Boracchio bragging about his deception. They ultimately arrest the scoundrels and it is revealed to all that Hero was innocent. Claudio, who believes she is dead, grieves for her.
Leonato tells Claudio that, as punishment, he wants Claudio to marry another of his nieces – a girl who looks much like the dead Hero. Claudio goes to church with the others, preparing to marry the mysterious, veiled woman. When the bride is revealed to be Hero herself, Claudio is overwhelmed with joy. Benedick then asks Beatrice if she will marry him and, after some bickering, they agree. The joyful lovers all have a merry dance before they celebrate their double wedding.
The Lion in Winter
By James Goldman
The Lion in Winter depicts the personal and political conflicts of Henry II of England against his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his children.
Set on Christmas Eve, 1183, at the castle of England’s King Henry II, the play opens with the arrival of Henry’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has imprisoned for the past ten years.
The story concerns the gamesmanship between Henry, Eleanor, their three surviving sons and their holiday guest, the King of France, Philip II (who is the son of Eleanor’s ex-husband, Louis VII of France). Also involved is Philip’s half-sister, Alais.
Henry, though aging, is a vital man, and he wants to chose an heir. He has three surviving sons all competing for the throne: Richard the Lionheart, a soldier genius; Geoffrey, reserved, quiet and calculating; and John, the youngest and Henry’s favorite, who is a sniveling brat. King Philip of France, also in attendance, wants to know when his sister, Alais, will be married to the heir. But Henry, hasn’t been able to appoint one yet, and furthermore, Alais has become his mistress. His manipulations of family are portrayed as spontaneous and emotional as opposed to the well thought-out strategems of his wife.
Eleanor has been queen for nearly 46 years, and while feminine, she is thoroughly capable of holding her own in a man’s world. Though she schemes against Henry, she loves him at the same time. And though she holds contempt for her children, she is not willing to see them harmed.
Despite Henry’s efforts to keep them all at arm’s length, Eleanor successfully reunites the brood, assuring that her power will not only be restored, but will remain her legacy.
This sharply intelligent script loaded with “verbal pyrotechnics” earned Tony and Academy Awards for its leading actresses.