Riverside Shakespeare celebrates 20th summer with MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
For the past 19 summers, Riverside Shakespeare has entertained Traverse City folks and those in Leelanau and Antrim counties with performances of William Shakespeare’s plays. For this 20th season, Riverside Shakespeare will be presenting MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, under the direction of co-founder Brian Dungjen.
With a talented cast of veteran performers and a few newcomers to Riverside Shakespeare, this summer’s production promises to be very comical. Some of the actors have been in all or almost all of the 19 past seasons. Scott Bufe is the sole actor who can claim to have performed in all of Riverside Shakespeare’s productions, and this year he will be portraying Benedick. Co-founder Jill Beauchamp, playing Dogberry, has been involved in all but one of the seasons. Hedges Macdonald, who plays Friar Francis, has only missed two summer performances.
Some first time Riverside Shakespeare performers include Samantha Whalen, who will be portraying the villainous Dona Joan, who causes all the problems in the play, which of course, turn out to be MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING! Another newcomer to Riverside is Danielle Pelshaw, playing the young female lover Hero, whom Dona Joan tries to ruin. As Hero’s best friend, Margaret, another first time performer, Emilie Lardie, fulfills that role. Tom Cole, as Antonio, and Scott Myers, as Balthazar and the Sexton, are also newcomers to Riverside Shakespeare productions.
The rest of the cast is filled out with actors who have performed for at least several years with Riverside Shakespeare, some returning after a few years hiatus and others having been in the last few years’ productions. Playing the lead role of Beatrice is Michelle Perez Dungjen, who was last year seen as Portia in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Other leading roles are: Leonata, portrayed by Janet Stipicevich; Don Pedro, played by Michael Curtis; Claudio performed by Geoff Wallace. The rest of the cast is Maggie Oliver (Conrade), Daniel Jablonski (Borachio), Groppuso (Verges), Tom Cole (Antonio), Rori Richardson (Watchman #1), Brynna Wesley (Watchman #2), and Emma Oliver (Ursula),
The two main love stories intertwine throughout the play, with one being the the engagement of Claudio and Hero, and the subsequent plot to destroy their happiness. The other love story involves many of the characters trying to help Benedick and Beatrice realize their love for one another.
Performances begin in Leland, on Thursday, July 18 at 7 pm at the Old Arts Building on Main Street. The second performance is in Elk Rapids, on Saturday, July 20 at 6 pm at Veterans Memorial Park on River Street. On Sunday, July 21 at 6 pm, the performance will be in Northport at Haserot Park next to the Marina.
For the following week-end, all performances are at Hannah Park in Traverse City, at Sixth and Union. These performances are Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26 at 7 pm, and Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 at 6 pm. All performances are outdoors, so audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and may want to also bring a picnic dinner. Admission is free, but donations are always gratefully accepted. In the case of rain, please check Riverside Shakespeare’s Facebook page for information: https://www.facebook.com/Riverside-Shakespeare-LLC-152497781464237/ . In Traverse City, the alternate rain venue is The Presbyterian Church, 701 Westminster.