Much Ado about Shakespeare

Penticton Chamber Theatre to take latest production on tour throughout South Okanagan

Penticton Chamber Theatre players (from left to right) Andrew Zender

Penticton Chamber Theatre players (from left to right) Andrew Zender

The Penticton Chamber Theatre is offering a brand-new production of Much Ado About Nothing opening July 31.

Director Josephine Patterson said in an era of computer-generated images, characterless filmmaking and boring American sitcoms, Shakespeare still comes as “lightning from a clear blue sky,” as C. S. Lewis once said of Tolkien.

“We have had so much fun with this,” said Patterson. “This is one of his most famous comedies.”

This will be the ninth Shakespeare production by the theatre group and with Kelowna not producing a show for the first time in 25 year they expect tickets will go fast. Patterson said Much Ado About Nothing not only provides laughs but piercing psychological insight.

“To me Shakespeare is about every one of us. This play is really great because it has a great villain who is played by Martin Peterson. He explained it best by saying it is like a broken mirror in the beginning and you put it all together with the different scenes. I think that is a reflection, the mirror, and everyone who comes to see the show will see him or herself in it.”

Much Ado About Nothing is one of the Bard’s most cherished comedies and Patterson assembled a troupe that ranges in age from 17 to 80. Two couples headline the play: Benedick (Colin Cross) and Beatrice (Rae-Marie Leggott), accidental tourists of love who think they are “too wise to woo peaceably.” Claudio (Andrew Zender) and Hero (Mia Harris), believe “silence is the perfect herald of joy” until they start listening to the wrong people.  Set in Italy, Don Pedro (Cal Meiklejohn) woos Claudio for Hero and a wedding is to take place a week later. Trouble ensues when a merry war of wits begins. Add in lumbering malaprop Dogberry (Nywyn Jefferson) and his band of constables, drunken Borachio (Jake Kimberley), tuneful Balthasar (Jonathan Sutchbery) and wicked Don John (Martin Pedersen) who is the blistered soul –– and the stage is set for one outrageous misunderstanding after another.

Playing Leonato is Al Toots, who said Patterson sweet talked him into the role as he had never performed Shakespeare before.

“I had no interest in Shakespeare, mostly because of the language. I never read any Shakespeare or saw any of the plays or movies, but there is that bit of allure because the guy has been around for 400 years so there must be something to it,” said Toots. “I have had such a good time with it and I am really surprised. I had a lot more lines than I was lead to believe but have learned so much from Josephine and everyone involved.”

Much Ado About Nothing runs for nine shows (through Aug. 10) throughout the South Okanagan.  Opening night is on July 31 in Penticton at the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. Funds raised from this show will go back to the church to help pay for the various programming they offer the community.

The rest of the schedule is as follows: Aug. 1 and 2 at Memorial Park in Summerland at 7 p.m., Aug. 3 and 4 at Topshelf Winery in Kaleden at 7 p.m., Kenyon Park in Okanagan Falls on Aug. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 9 and 10 at Township 7 Winery in Penticton at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the Aug. 1 to 4 shows are $15, with children 12 and under free. Tickets to the Aug. 9 and 10 shows at Township 7 Winery are $20. All tickets are at the door and for the Summerland shows they are also available at Sweet Tooth Cafe on Victoria Road.

Cast and crew for the show said they are dedicating Much Ado About Nothing to Alanna Mathew who belonged to the theatre troupe and died last year from injuries suffered in a car crash.

“Everyone wants to do it in her honour because we often think of her and she is our inspiration. We have set up a scholarship in her name at the Community Foundation. Anyone who wants to donate is welcome to contact them,” said Patterson.