Christine Baranski fought over a married man in Broadway's The Real Thing, and Michael Cumpsty argued physics in Copenhagen (before setting those dancing feet over at 42nd Street a-tappin'). Jan. 28, the two will spar together over true love in Much Ado About Nothing in a reading staged by the Shakespeare Society at the Kaye Playhouse.
NYSF veteran Brian Kulick directs the book-in-hand reading. Much Ado About Nothing follows the comic romance of the middle-aged Beatrice (Baranski) and Benedick (Cumpsty), whose constant verbal combat hides a deep love for one another. Kulick recently directed the play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where he set Much Ado in the aftermath of World War I.
Kulick has tackled Shakespeare several times for New York's Public Theatre, staging the more difficult and more obscure A Winter's Tale, Pericles and Timon of Athens. The Shakespeare Society liked what they saw in the helmer; co-founders Adriana Munchin and Nancy Becker named him new artistic director of the Society in spring, 2001.
April 22, the Shakespeare Society will read King Lear with Philip Bosco in the lead role, Richard Easton as Gloucester and Blair Brown as Regan, followed in June by The Tempest. Also set for the series is a Shakespeare's Women program on March 11 and Michael York discussing "A Shakespearean Actor Prepares" with Classic Stage Company's Barry Edelstein on May 20.
The Shakespeare Society is best known for bestowing its Shakespeare Society Medal on persons who promote the works of Stratford-on-Avon's most famous son. Past recipients include actress Claire Bloom, actor Sir Derek Jacobi and professor Harold Bloom. For information on the Society, call (212) 327-3399 or visit http://www.shakespearesociety.org. The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College is located at 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. — By Christine Ehren