This year, Milwaukee’s Shakespeare in the Park will no longer be, well, in the park. Instead, the yearly collaboration between Optimist Theatre and Alverno College has found a more sheltered home at the Peck Pavilion at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, where they will stage Much Ado About Nothing.
The new partnership with the Marcus Center gets both cast and audience under a roof during the performances, even though the Peck Pavilion is otherwise open to the elements. Tom Reed is the associate artistic director of Optimist Theatre, and the director of this year's Shakespeare in the Park production. He says that securing the use of the Peck Pavilion checks off some things on the company's bucket list. “We still have the goal in the future of doing more than one show in the summer. But we’re slowly reaching all of the goals we had set, so right now the trajectory is on the right course.”
The Shakespeare cannon offers everything from comedy, history, and tragedy, but this year Reed said everyone just wanted to do something fun. “I know there’s been some approaches to the show out there where they kind of explore the dark side of Much Ado… we are not,” says Reed.
Jim Pickering, who has been seen on just about every stage in the greater Milwaukee area during his career, and who was one of the founding members of this iteration of Shakespeare in the Park, describes Much Ado as a great love story. "It’s almost like grown-ups acting like teenagers. It’s like ‘I don’t like you.’ ‘No, I don’t really like you!’ but of course they’re in love with each other."
He pauses for a minute. “Let’s put it this way. You don’t have to be 22-years-old to fall in love. And I love that about this story because it’s two mature people who finally get it together."
You can enjoy the spectacle of Beatrice and Benedick getting it together for through July 22nd at the Peck Pavilion.