Westmount College is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and one of the centerpieces of the celebration will be the Westmont Festival Theatre’s new production of William Shakespeare’s free-swinging comedy Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Mitchell Thomas, with an excellent cast of students and a production team that includes many recent alumni.
The show will open at 8:30 p.m. Friday and continue through this weekend and the weekend following, all in Westmont’s Porter Theatre.
Revived to our attention by Kenneth Branagh’s marvelously rowdy 1993 film, Much Ado has become a great favorite of modern audiences. With an absolutely nonsensical plot and full of absurdly elaborate verbal conceits that somehow don’t get in the way or bog down the action — which, indeed, carry on the action “by other means,” as Clausewitz would say — the play is as devoid of moral value judgments as Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, its most legitimate modern heir.
There are plots and disguises, conspiracies and masquerades, misunderstandings and mistaken identities. The women are gloriously clear-sighted; the men are always tripping over their vanity — whether you think the ending is happy or not depends on whether you think these louts actually deserve the women they get. But it ends in marriage, so it must be a comedy.
Director Thomas says Much Ado is his favorite Shakespearean comedy; directing it has long been on his wish list.
“What’s remarkable,” he says, “is how fresh, funny and modern the play feels. [This] will be a beautifully designed show that we hope gets at the heart of the romance, danger, passion, farce and love that this play contains. [It] is a riotously funny, beautiful and challenging play and I am grateful to get to work on it and share it with our audiences.”
Tickets to Much Ado About Nothing are $7 for students and seniors, $10 for adults, and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 805.565.7140.