Tony Nominees Veanne Cox and Derek Smith Will Spar in DC Much Ado About Nothing
By Kenneth Jones
The Shakespeare Theatre Company's new Washington, DC, production of Much Ado About Nothing will feature Tony Award nominees Veanne Cox as Beatrice and Derek Smith as Benedick, under the direction of Ethan McSweeny, at Sidney Harman Hall Nov. 25, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012.
In the "classic tale of matched wits and love," according to STC, "everyone can see that Beatrice and Benedick are meant for each other — except Beatrice and Benedick." Their sparring subsides when they come to support the at-risk love of their friends Hero and Claudio.
Cox, a veteran of STC's The Way of the World, Twelfth Night and The Beaux Stratagem, is a Tony nominee for playing Amy in the first Broadway revival of Company, and appeared in Broadway's A Free Man of Color, the recent La Cage aux Folles and as Rose Stopnick Gellman in Caroline, or Change.
Smith recently appeared as Antonio in STC's The Merchant of Venice. He was Romeo in STC's first production of Romeo and Juliet. His Broadway credits include The Green Bird for which he received a featured-actor Tony Award nomination, plus The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring 'Round the Moon, Getting and Spending and Scar in The Lion King.
STC's new Much Ado About Nothing is set on a sugar cane plantation in hot and sultry 1930s Cuba. According to STC notes, "McSweeny was inspired by a previous production of Much Ado directed by his co-artistic director Vivienne Benesch at the Chautauqua Theater Company. He was so taken by the concept that he decided to further exploring the setting."
He said in a statement, "I don't think anyone would claim that Shakespeare's Sicily and Cuba in the '30s are identical, but if you scratch the surface the parallels ring true: including proximal low level civil conflicts, a society with a strong religious influence, a native sense of machismo, heat, and above all, sexiness. And then there's that great Cuban music and dancing which we will utilize for its maximum celebratory impact."
The cast also includes Floyd King as Verges, Ted van Griethuysen as Dogberry, Bev Appleton as Antonio, Colleen Delany as Ursula, Ryan Garbayo as Claudio, Mark Hairston as Borachio, Rachel Spencer Hewitt as Margaret, Kate Hurster as Hero, Lawrence Redmond as Friar Francis, Matthew Saldivar as Don John, Ashley Smith as Conrade, Adrian Sparks as Leonato and David Emerson Toney as Don Pedro and. Other cast members include Aayush Chandan, Carlos J. Gonzalez, James Graham, Michael Gregory, Phil Hosford, Aaryn Kopp, Matthew McGee, Janel Miley, Jacob Perkins and Andrew Wassenich.
The creative team includes set designer Lee Savage, costume designer Clint Ramos, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau and composer/sound designer Steven Cahill, plus choreographer Marcos Santana, associate choreographer Alison Solomon, stage manager Joseph Smelser and assistant stage manager Elizabeth Clewley. Casting is by McCorkle Casting, Ltd. with assistance from STC's resident casting director Daniel Neville-Rehbehn. Jenny Lord is assistant director.
For tickets and more information, call (202) 547-1122 or visit ShakespeareTheatre.org.
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