Audience Reviews (22 reviews)

Much Ado About Love Sparkles on Theatre III’s Acton Stage

By Julie Berry                                                  June 5, 2014

In Theatre III’s world-premiere performance of Much Ado About Love by writer/director David Nanto, Shakespeare gets a makeover with polyester pants, a ponytail and a beehive.  This production, which feels bound for many more stages than this one, is an entirely original story compiled exclusively from lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, borrowing heavily, of course, from his comedies. Every word is Shakespeare’s, yet Nanto’s story and Theatre III’s ensemble deftly peel back any obscurities of language or meaning. The result is a heady comic mashup as accessible to ten year-olds as it will be delightful to literary buffs. Theatergoers who find Shakespeare stuffy need not fear.

Three friends, Peter, Derek, and Luke arrive at a hotel in Padua for a three-month stay, vowing to devote themselves to the joys of learning, and swearing to abstain from women, wine, and the pleasures of the table. Their resolve is quickly sabotaged by the arrival of two charmingly eligible cousins, Kate and Emma, to their hotel. Olivia, their hostess, conceives a strategy of staging a play to keep everyone entertained. When wooing and rehearsal intertwine, incriminating confusions and jealousies are bound to follow. It takes more than a little conspiracy to repair Cupid’s aim and set wounded hearts to rights.

Set in 1960’s Italy and deliciously costumed, the production sparkles like sherbet spritzer. The ensemble cast fizzes with ebullient energy as they fling themselves headlong into love’s turbulent waters.  And fling themselves, they do – the physical comedy is unrelenting, and audiences may wonder how the performers can still move after taking such beatings. Period folk music adds an unexpected garnish, with actors playing guitar, and female leads proving themselves charming chanteuses.

Delightfully familiar and wonderfully new, this high-spirited show will be broadly appealing to theatergoers of all ages. Witty, sophisticated, yet family-friendly, this world-premiere is a must-see.  This won’t be the last we hear of Much Ado About Love, but the two-weekend run will be the last MetroWest audiences get to see of it for a while.

Julie Berry is the critically acclaimed author of the Carnegie Medal shortlisted Edgar Award nominated YA novel All the Truth That’s in Me (2013, Viking Children’s Books). Find her online at or on Twitter at @julieberrybooks.

First Name: Margaret
City: Acton
Review: I loved this show! It was great entertainment as well as incredibly clever in its use of only Shakespearean lines. And the music was divine!

First Name: Spencer
City: Pepperell, MA
Review: Much Ado About Love is funny, clever, and entertaining throughout. I had a chance to see the written script after the play, and I was stunned by the breadth of Shakespeare's works in this play. It flowed seamlessly. I tip my hat to the author. Well done.

First Name: Ed
City: Ayer
Review: The entire premise of Much Ado About Love is delightfully clever. I invited two other couples to join us. We all loved it. The entire audience loved it. Watching the play was fun. Individual lines and entire scenes from different works of Shakespeare all blended together leaving me trying to identify the original sources. The music was so clean and simple and at the same time it was really engaging – I loved it. I wanted to sing along, but I resisted the urge. I especially liked the weight of the parts being spread equally among all six characters, so that they were each well developed and interesting. They all got a chance to have fun on stage. Well done

First Name: John
City: Harvard
Review: Much ado about this Shakespearean mash-up is entirely warranted! It is fast-moving, witty and hilarious. It's not just how it was conceived, assembled, directed and played --masterfully done and performed--but the plot is fun and the music a delightful surprise. Wish I had seen it sooner to tell more friends about it. This play is destined for much larger venues!

First Name: Aaron
City: Pepperell, MA
Review: A Wonderful play! Clearly, this work was made possible by the Bard's vast anthology, but David Nanto has masterfully fashioned fresh harmony and fluid symmetry from otherwise disparate verse. Bravo!

First Name: patricia

City: Providence

Review: wonderfully ensemble cast. clever idea and well executed. my only negative response is that it was WAY too long and seemed longer still in the stifling theater with so many unnecessary blackouts. I would love to see this effort continue in an abbreviated form.

First Name: Leyla
City: Lowell
Review: Loved it! Just like we buy local produce we should watch local plays. David Nanto, I hope you got another in the works!

First Name: Bill
City: Weymouth
Review: A wonderful, enjoyable evening! The intertwining of so many different plays was nothing short of remarkable. Incredibly clever writing, wonderful performances! Godspeed to all.

First Name: Chris
City: Bolton
Review: I'm not a big Shakespeare guy but this was so good I'm coming back next week with my kids! The actors were terrific, the story charming. A must-see! Highly recommend it!

First Name: Mike
City: Groton MA
Review: I really enjoyed the show; it was fun from beginning to end. The author picked some of the best bits out of the world of Shakespeare and pulled them together into a wonderful new story. It reminded me how truly funny and witty the English language can be. The idea of using different parts of the plays freed everyone to explore a new look at some of my favorite scenes. The cast and dialog were a perfect match. The cast was clearly having as much fun with the story as we were. Bravo!

First Name: Eric
City: Concord, NH
Review: Lots of fun. It was clear the cast enjoyed performing this play and the fun was contagious. thanks for a very enjoyable night.

First Name:The Wilsons
City: Maynard, MA
Review: A cleverly written, laugh-out-loud romantic tale that brings you back to the thrills and spills of falling in love! Delightful, energetic performances across the board from an enjoyable cast who made this unique Shakespeare experience come alive for us and our kids as well! The vintage 60's attire was a bonus!

First Name: Colleen

City: Groton

Review: I absolutely loved this play! The acting was brilliant! The set and costumes were wonderful, the comedic timing was impeccable and the singing was lovely. I will be humming the last song for days to come. Don't miss your opportunity to see Much Ado about Love!

First Name:Maro

City: Maynard

Review: The show was fantastic. I highly recommend it. Get thee to the theatre!

First Name: Abraham (Abe)

City: Medway, MA

Review: Is as if Shakespeare himself had come back to life to write one more Master Piece. The play writing was truly amazing and acting was spectacular. You will enjoy this performance, guaranteed.

First Name: Ellen

City: Groton

Review: Although not a Shakespeare person, I thought it was brilliant.. amazingly written and wonderfully acted! I am still thinking about it this morning! I enjoyed every minute of it! It's a must see for everyone.. even my 16 year old was laughing right along!

First Name: Erin
City: Boxboro
Review: Thoroughly entertaining -- laugh-out-loud funny as well as poignant and sweet. Thanks for a great show!

First Name: Frank
City: Boxborough
Review: An awesome performance. David Nanto’s seamless weaving of Shakespeare’s lines were so spectacular you did not even know they were from so many different sources. The Bard himself would have been proud to call this work his own! The acting was first rate and I loved the “Mad Men” look to the set and costumes. A true tour de force and unbelievably original and familiar at the same time. BRAVO!

First Name: Beth
City: Boxborough

Review: This was so current and fresh and VERY well acted. What a treat! The script was so inspired and real. I'm not particularly fond of Shakespeare or romantic comedy but this synergistic production is much more. Don't miss it!!!

First Name: Jon

City: Concord

Review: I was surprised by how funny this show was. Many times the actors had to wait for the laughter to die down before they could deliver their next lines. The physical comedy was great. The timing was perfect. I thought I would struggle to understand the language but the actors body language, facial expressions and tone made it easy to understand. Much Ado is a wonderful romantic comedy with the emphasis on comedy. I think I'll go tomorrow night too.

First Name: Alexis and Melissa :)

City: Townsend

Review: We loved it!! The actors were amazing. Great job and shoutout to our fantastic theater teacher, Miss.Warwick! You go girl!

First Name: Don
City: Stow, MA
Review: All I can say is "Wow!" This was the most fun  theater I've seen in years. I've never been a huge Shakespeare buff, but this was completely accessible; it was funny, it was moving, the cast is amazing - not to be missed!

Globe West Best Bets

By Milva DiDomizio | Globe Staff June 01, 2014


Three friends swear to avoid women, but their oath is challenged when they subsequently fall in love with women in “Much Ado About Love,” David Nanto’s romantic comedy in Shakespearean verse, opening Friday at 8 p.m. at Theatre III, 250 Central St.

Audience Reviews

Lowell Sun

Love is on board in the Bard's birthday fete at Theatre III

By Nancye Tuttle, Sun Correspondent

Updated: 05/22/2014 09:12:23 AM EDT

ACTON -- William Shakespeare -- also known as The Bard -- turns 450 this spring.  And to get into the spirit of celebrating Will's birthday, Theatre III extends their season with Much Ado About Love, a romantic comedy about love that uses Shakespeare's poetic verse from more than 20 of his plays and sonnets.

Performances are June 6, 7, 13 and 14 at the theater's Central Street playhouse in West Acton.

Playwright David Nanto started the project three years ago while living in Tokyo. "I wanted to see if it was possible to take Shakespeare's verse from various plays and organize it into an entirely new plot," says Nanto.

"Most of the play was written when I had extra time on business trips to London, New York, Singapore and Buenos Aires.'

The production also features two songs with original music by Kevin Kelly, a former New York advertising executive.

Theatre III's artistic director Ed Knights is excited about the show.
"I love the idea of a completely unique way to enjoy Shakespeare," he said. "We are thrilled to celebrate his 450th birthday with this
original work."

Broadway World- 9/16/14

MUCH ADO ABOUT LOVE to Put a Twist on Shakespeare in Tomorrow's NYC Reading 

An industry-only workshop reading of the award winning new play, Much Ado About Love will be held on September 17, 2014 in New York City.

Much Ado About Love is a modern Romantic Comedy with a twist: every line comes from Shakespeare. The play was written by David Nanto, a corporate strategist who took verse from 22 Shakespeare plays and sonnets and crafted them into an entirely new plot. He wrote the play while living as an expat in Tokyo and on business trips to London, New York, Singapore, and Buenos Aires.

Also featured are two songs with original music by Kevin Kelly, a former advertising executive from New York City.

The play is the story of three friends who arrive in Italy at a small hotel where they swear an oath to avoid women for three months and focus only on their studies. On the day they arrive, two women check into the same hotel hoping to get away from difficulties at home.

With the men and women not interacting and with nothing else to do, they are saved by the gracious owner of the hotel, who suggests that they all do a reading of a play to pass the long evenings. It isn't long before the three men realize that they have fallen for the three women. But misunderstandings, shyness, and grief are almost insurmountable as they try to woo the girls of their dreams. But everything works out in the end proving that given the Bard's words, anyone has a chance at love.

The Workshop Reading is directed by Johnny Lee Davenport and stars an all African-American cast of Shakespearean actors.

Critic Reviews

“Much Ado About Love” First Run Review

By Kira Skagen                                           06.07.2014

Much ado about “Much Ado About Love?”  Why of course there should be.

Lines of 22 Shakespearean works reassembled by writer/director David Nanto, amalgamated into a funny, witty, cohesive, angst-filled love-struck
modern interpretation true to Shakespeare’s spirit took life in its
first performance June 6, 2014 at Theatre III in Acton, Massachusetts

Shakespeare challenged the very fabric of his society by using the words and stories that were already woven into its fabric, but he loosened and
re-wove them a bit differently for his messages.  Nanto challenges his
audience to see Shakespeare and the notion of love not as a silly
antiquated contrivance of ancient verse, but as passion that transcends
just words. 

So Nanto took 22 works of Shakespearean threads and wove them for his contemporary audience, remaining true to Shakespeare’s spirit but
challenging the modern fabric to see both the classics and love in his

That his script is unique, “that’s certain”, that his direction reveals his
vision, “that’s certain”, that both are highly adaptable and accessible
for today’s audience, “that’s certain” as well.

Six characters drawing a mashup of attributes from the Shakespeare litany and life itself leave the audience to wonder that characters are not
just stock characters and people are not just stock people.  Who will
succumb to “Cupid’s arrow” first, who will suffer the most for it, labor
for it, embrace it?  While the end ends in the resolution of love,
Nanto’s exposition shows his interpretation of what strengthens and
weakens it.  Even if the audience is only comedically and touchingly
reminded that people die for love, the subtext of love being the essence
of life is not missed. And true to Shakespeare, in romantic comedies
love is the protagonist.

The pairings are initially easy to ascertain per direction, but how the
“play within a play” setup will help in the pairs’ resolutions is less
obvious as per Nanto’s script/direction and the actors’ stellar
performances.  Role originators Phil Berry, Karen Bingham, Alissa Mott,
Adam Snodgrass, Lindsy Warwick, and Julian Willard breathe modern life into old Will’s words.

The simplistic stage easily lends to a 1960’s Italy-esque interpretation of “Much Ado About Love.” Script/performance references to historical references Shakespeare used, just delicious.

Songs, the songs and arrangements by Kevin Kelly are at times light,
sorrowful, or hilarious but with a sweetness leaving the audience
reaching for more. And the physical comedy, of course palatable,
especially the abuse of food. All in all, food for the soul.

Forget about the “doth” and “thus” and Shakespearean versing if you must.

Allow writer/director Nanto to transform Shakespeare’s realigned words and entertain and challenge you and remind you that there really is “Much Ado About Love.”