You know you’ve made it in New York when you can go see Shakespeare in the Park without having to wait in line. Something like that. My friend texted me two Wednesdays ago saying she had two tickets to Much Ado About Nothing and I canceled my plans to go to yoga and immediately headed to the park after work.
I’d really wanted to see this because of Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. Because, duh, they’re fabulous. I hadn’t seen Much Ado since I was in 5th grade and saw my high school’s production, but got the gist from reading a brief synopsis before the show that night – love triangles, tricks, and all of that. Great, so basically your typical Shakespearian comedy. To be honest, I’m a much bigger fan of Shakespeare’s dramas and tragedies than I am of his comedies. But this is Shakespeare in the Park. And it’s free. And it’s a New York tradition. It’s my tradition. There was no way I wasn’t seeing it.
Linklater and Rabe made the show for me. They were both absolutely brilliant. Brian Stokes Mitchell was miscast as Don Pedro and I barely noticed when he was onstage (and that’s saying something). There were really no weak links in this, but Linklater and Rabe just made this so-so comedy of Shakespeare’s that much better to watch.
Much Ado About Nothing plays through July 6th, so this is your last week. Get thee to the Delacorte!
A couple of weeks back, my friend Andrew (who I met years back because of his enthusiasm for Green Day and goes to as many concerts a week as I do shows) and I hopped on a MetroNorth train up to New Haven to see a matinee of These Paper Bullets. Shakespeare and music by Billie Joe Armstrong? Consider me there. But before the show, there were two must-haves: Frank Pepe’s and cannolis. We had both (well, we saved the cannolis for the ride home but whatever) plus the most delicious $1.75/pint beer (it was basically PBR, but Italian, so much classier):
We ate all of that. It was delicious. There were no regrets.
It had started pouring in New Haven literally the second that we stepped out of the train station, but we put up our hoods and umbrellas and walked over the Yale Rep to pick up our tickets and wait for the show to begin.
I liked the show. I didn’t love it. The music was all very Beatles-esque and catchy, and thus good, but I wanted more of it. The creative team is very spot-on with not wanting to call this a musical, but more of a play with music. The cast, which included the fabulous Stephen DeRosa and the brooding David Wilson Barnes, was great. Very solid acting chops all around.
My only critique of the show was that it could’ve been just as good if it was a solid 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. I know they were trying to update Much Ado About Nothing scene by scene, but large parts dragged and were unnecessary. They had a talkback afterwards and it was cool to hear about how the show came together.
I was shocked at how little I knew about the cast beforehand and how many of the cast members I’d before in shows in New York. Love out of town try-outs. Unfortunately we missed the earlier train back though and had to wait around for one an hour later. Worry not though, we had cannolis to keep us company.
These Paper Bullets was entertaining and a ton of fun, but I’m not sure it’ll have a life after Yale Rep. Who knows though!