“I can see he’s not in your good books,’ said the messenger.
‘No, and if he were I would burn my library.”
If ever there were a – ahem – midsummer night’s dream it must have looked something like the scene in Rockwood Park this past Saturday night, where picnicking lovers of the Bard and beautiful star-light evening skies enjoyed a raucous rendition of what must be one of the earliest rom-coms put to paper.
Delaware Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” stormed the tree-framed stage on the grounds of the historic mansion, offering a rollicking string of Elizabethan one-liners and zany mixups that charmed an audience enjoying a decidedly, and unusually non-humid summer’s eve. The Italian-based comedy hinges on the perils of overhead gossip, and brings us a cast of now-legendary characters including Benedick, a lord and soldier from Padua (played brilliantly by J Hernandez); Beatrice, niece of Leonato (Krista Apple – a delight!); Hero, daughter of Leonato (Claris Park – electric); Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon (Eric Mills – commanding); Don John, “the Bastard Prince,” brother of Don Pedro (David Pica – intrepid); Claudio, of Florence (Jo Vito – dynamic) and Leonato, governor of Messina, father of Hero (Michael Fuchs – gravitas). And we cannot forget Dogberry, the constable in charge of Messina’s night watch(Hanna Van Sciver – hilarious).
The performance marked the directorial debut of the award-winning performer Bi Jean Ngo, with a plucky, thoroughly contemporary musical score by Michael Hahn. Delaware Shakespeare smashed attendance records on opening weekend; this was their best ever — 30% more than their previous record.
In a creative, community-focused twist, the part of Friar Francis is being played by a rotating cast of local faith leaders, including Rabbi Michael Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom, the Rev. Edwin Estevez of Grace Methodist Church, the Rev. Roberta Finkelstein of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, The Rev. Emma Horn of First Presbyterian Church – Newark, the Rev. Brian Lewis of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Dr. Todd Townsend of the Resurrection Center, and David Savage, a lay leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Wilmington Area.
“Much Ado” is Delaware Shakespeare’s 16thannual summer production. The play will appear at Rockwood Park through July 29 with performances beginning at 7:30 pm and gates opening at 6:15.
So make ye haste and prance over to Rockwood Park (but buy tickets first right here). Bring your own chairs, blankets and goodie-filled picnic baskets.
Oh, if you forget – the concession stand will offer sandwiches, snacks and wine sold by the bottle.
Photography by Allesandra Nicole