The run may be over, but Penticton Chamber Theatre isn’t quite done with Much Ado about Nothing.
“We have even been invited to perform in Merritt with the live theatre society there. And we are making an effort right now to see if that might work for early September,” said director Josephine Patterson. “That’s the first time we have ever been invited to perform anywhere farther than the Grist Mill.”
Saturday, the local theatre group wrapped up the scheduled run of the production with a final performance at Township 7 Winery, after touring outdoor venues in Summerland, Kaleden and Okanagan Falls.
“This was the best ensemble I have ever had, 17 actors,” said Patterson. “For me, that makes all the difference. For a director, once you have an excellent cast, then a lot of your work is done. Everyone is completely cooperative, creative. We had a wonderful time.”
Much Ado about Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s best-known comedies, though unlike others from the catalog, it does have a darker side, something Patterson said both cast and audience seemed to enjoy.
“It was a lot of fun, but we did enjoy having a bit of a villain in the story, unlike Shakespeare’s “green comedies” that are totally bright at the end,” she said. “This one definitely had a bit of a villain (Don John, played by Martin Peterson), and we do know that the couples are not going to be completely happy.”
Patterson is referring to the sardonic main characters of the play, Beatrice (Rae-Marie Leggott) and Benedick (Colin Cross), who she said still influence theatre and film.
“That was the model for many couples today: Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn; Nick and Nora Charles; all of the bickering couples,” said Patterson.
Set in the Italian province of Messina, Much Ado is also ideal for an outdoor performance, especially a vineyard.
“It’s heaven to be outside the box,” said Patterson. “I doubt that we will ever have Shakespeare indoors again. We really now have many outdoor venues. We can pick and choose, but we do try to bring it to different communities.”
Being outside the box, however, brings with it the elements, and Patterson thanks the audiences for sticking with them through some of the dicey moments.
“Some evenings there was lightning with rain at the end. When the cast was applauding at the end, they were applauding our audience,” said Patterson.
This was Penticton Chamber Theatre’s ninth season, and Patterson said they are already looking forward to a celebratory 10th season, considering either A Comedy of Errors or The Winter’s Tale.