Shakespeare in the Park presents 'Much Ado about Nothing'

 
By Gina Catalano
Wheaton Park District
Posted8/24/2017 12:26 PM
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  • Shakespeare in the Park, a collaboration between Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College's Arena Theater, presents "Much Ado about Nothing."

    Shakespeare in the Park, a collaboration between Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College's Arena Theater, presents "Much Ado about Nothing." Courtesy of Wheaton Park District

Fans of The Bard's comedies can take in a production of "Much Ado about Nothing" al fresco as Wheaton Park District and Wheaton College present Shakespeare in the Park.

The free performance begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at Memorial Park, 208 W. Union Ave., Wheaton. Seating opens at 6 p.m. Some bench seating is available, and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

The production is part of an annual collaboration between the park district and Wheaton College Arena Theater to bring the iconic works of Shakespeare to life.

The Memorial Park band shell will undergo a transformation that will transport spectators to Messina, Italy, where the play is set. "Much Ado about Nothing" combines comedy, love, honor and politics. The story's lighthearted humor is interspersed with heartfelt moments, striking a balance between hilarity and gravity.

This year, there will be a short puppet show of "Much Ado" before the play begins. Kids who love puppets and adults who want a short primer on the plot and characters will want to be on their blankets and benches when the curtain rises.

This year's production once again will include the music of Maggie Ritchie and her band.

Since its start, Wheaton's Shakespeare in the Park has brought together thousands of area residents for a professional-quality production. The performance brings Wheaton College alums-turned-professional actors from across the country and pairs them with current students to star in the two-day performance.

"There's something so wonderful about Shakespeare outdoors," said Andy Mangin, Wheaton College Arena Theater production manager and technical director.

"As the night sky dims and the stage lights brighten, we hope to transport the audience a little. We hope to tell a story about love and reconciliation. And it's funny and musical and crazy. This year it's a little bit '80s. I think it will be different from any 'Much Ado' anyone has seen. We really see this as such a treat to be able to do it and have audiences come and share this wonderful time with us."

Theatergoers also play an important role in the production by helping to underwrite production costs through a Crowdrise campaign.

Donors of $25 or more will receive a limited-edition T-shirt. Donations can be made at wheatonparkdistrict.com/events/shakespeare/. Any donations made exceeding the production costs will be donated to the DuPage County Historical Museum, a facility of the Wheaton Park District.

Concessions will be available, with the proceeds also benefiting the DuPage County Historical Museum. In the event of inclement weather, a rain date is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 27.

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