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 www.julieberrybooks.com or on Twitter at @julieberrybooks.
First Name: patricia
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: Colleen
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!
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: GrotonReview: 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!
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
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 :)
Review: We loved it!! The actors were amazing. Great job and shoutout to our fantastic theater teacher, Miss.Warwick! You go girl!
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.
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
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.
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
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.”
Copyright © David nanto. All rights reserved.