Shakespeare does it again! [by James Wenley]
Turns out that Much Ado about Nothing is actually much ado about quite a lot of things…
In some ways a ‘greatest hits’ of Shakespeare’s devices, Much Ado’s comedy takes in bumbling authority figures, a disguised seduction, various tricks played on characters, a Shrew-like Battle of the Sexes… there’s even a sort of small boy Richard III villain, and the plot threatens to get all Romeo and Juliet when, upon the suggestion of the friar (you have to watch out for them), the heroine Hero fakes her own death. In brief, such stuff that Shakespeare does so well.
The University of Auckland Outdoor Summer Shakespeare production, directed by Sam Pascoe, promises Shakespeare under the stars. With this weather, it’s more accurate to say Shakespeare under the clouds. No matter, for who would want to be watching the skies when the action on the lawn is so good.
Much Ado revolves around two couples – Claudio and Hero, who fall instantly in love with each other, and Benedick and Beatrice, who fall instantly in hate. But when they are tricked into thinking that the other one loves them, Benedick and Beatrice tie themselves instead into love knots.
Embracing the Musical Theatre cliché [by James Wenley]
The story and tribulations of the performer – whether it is singer, dancer or actor are an over-familiar cliché: Auditions, rejections, the pluck from obscurity, fame, selling out, rise and fall. Struggle.
A Chorus Line, the beloved 1975 Broadway Musical is a definitive going over of these themes. Based on taped sessions with real Broadway dancers, over the course of an intense audition, the histories, hopes and dreams of the performers are revealed. It strips away and lays bare the Broadway dream, before renewing it in a stunning chorus line number.
Local collaborative show Confessions of a Struggling Thespian works within this framework, and owes a debt to Chorus. For the ‘Thespian’ in the title, exchange with ‘Broadway Musical Theatre performer’. A performer, of course, that is needed to be a triple threat – actor, singer AND dancer. The 16 strong cast, mostly adopting American accents and theatre blacks with the odd accessory as costumes, perform vignettes on the typical performer experience. Monologues and scenes – touching on themes like audition nightmares and finding your identity on stage act as bridges into a broad range of Musical theatre songs.