Much Ado About Nothing Nebraska Shakespeare

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“Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
Cupid does a bit of each in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, but not before a lot of real killing is narrowly averted. A dastardly plot by Don John to defame Hero shatters her relationship with Claudio and sets friends careening towards conflict, dueling and death. The story perches on the edge of disaster until a comically inept town watch accidently unravels the scheme and saves the day.
“The play comes together because of the triumph of the witless,” laughs Susan Baer Collins, the director of this Nebraska Shakespeare production. “The fools are the ones who discover the truth.”
Collins is no stranger to Shakespeare, having previously directed Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado for Nebraska Shakespeare. The world has changed since she directed this same play twenty years ago. “I’m much more interested in the gender disparity today,” Collins notes. “The women in this play have more of a sense of seeing the whole picture. The men are more spontaneous. They have some growing up to do.”
While a budding romance between Claudio and Hero consumes much of the story, the real draw is the merry war between Beatrice and Benedick, a witty love/hate relationship that predates comedic progeny like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in “Woman of the Year” and Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail” by five hundred years.
Collins has set Nebraska Shakespeare’s new production of Much Ado in Messina in the year 1955. “Hero is a young woman falsely accused of not being chaste on her wedding day. I wanted to move it up in time where this was still a deal breaker,” says Collins. Placing it there also enables costumer Lindsay Pape to design sharp Italian fashion and sound designer Molly Welsh to incorporate popular Latin dance music of the time. Blessed with a terrific cast and a set designed to reach out into the audience, the production promises to be a spectacular evening of theater under the stars. Bring your picnic basket or check out all your food and drink options on the green at their website:
Speaking of spectacular, do not miss the Nebraska Shakespeare’s companion play this season, the Nebraska premiere of King John. The play is rarely staged, but Artistic Director Vincent Carlson-Brown has had his eye on it for several years. “I had the pleasure of watching a staged reading of his adaptation several years ago. It was terrific, with all the drama, political intrigue and plot twists of Shakespeare’s better known history plays. One great pleasures of Nebraska Shakespeare is the opportunity to see great productions of some lesser known gems from Shakespeare’s canon.”
Don’t forget to see the most recent addition to Nebraska Shakespeare’s summer program. Sarah Carlson-Brown will direct an all-female ensemble in a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the Blue Barn Theatre on July 7 and 8 at 2 pm for the “Connect with Shakespeare” series, Juno’s Swans. The last time Susan Baer Collins performed Shakespeare in Omaha was as Cassius in the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of Julius Caesar; this is your chance to see her perform the title role.
Nebraska Shakespeare presents Shakespeare on the Green in Elmwood Park, situated between the UNO campus and Elmwood Golf Course. Much Ado About Nothing runs June 21 through June 24 and July 2, 5 and 7. King John runs June 28 through 30 and July 1, 6 and 8. The July 2 performance will be a “Moonlight Much Ado” with a 10 pm curtain. For all other shows, the green opens at 6 pm, with a Scholars Forum at 6:30, a Green Show, with a variety of preshow entertainment at 7:00, and curtain time at 8 pm. The Juno’s Swans staged reading of Julius Caesar will be performed at the Blue Barn Theatre on July 7 and 8 at 2 pm. Information about the productions, as well as directions, parking, food, special events, Shakesgear, and everything else you could possibly need to know is on their website: Or follow them on social media at @NEShakespeare.