Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Leet Shakes presents Much Ado About Nothing at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg

I'm friends with several of the folks who work in the offices of the American Shakespeare Center, a few of whom are actors with Golden Duck Productions. Golden Duck is a traveling theatre company based in Staunton. They specialize in murder mysteries and theatre for young audiences. Noah Jones is the artistic director and owner. His wife Jennifer L. Jones, the box office manager for the ASC, is a regular actor for the company as is Christina Sayer Grey, who works in education and marketing at the ASC is another regular with the company, and writes many of the shows for Golden Duck. Golden Duck also has an off-shoot, Leet Shakes, that specializes in Shakespearean productions. We attended their penultimate production of Much Ado About Nothing on February 12 at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg. The show, superbly directed by Sarah Lewis Klingbeil [her husband is the affable playhouse manager of the Blackfriars, Eric Klingbeil], was excellent and rather innovative. Instead of the typically evil Don John, we were treated to the evil Giovanna, played with stern aplomb by Leigh Ellis. Carmel Clavin, who is well-known to ASC patrons for manning the on-stage bar and working in the box office, makes for an awesome Beatrice. Her counterpart, Benedick, is played capably by Christopher Markham. Sayer Grey plays Conrade and is fantastic as Friar Francis. Jennifer Jones does a wonderful job as Ursula and as one of the watchmen. Shae Armstrong plays Hero about as well as I've ever seen on stage. Katie Page, another box office worker at the ASC, was impressive as Margaret and outstanding as Verges, Dogberry's lackey. Speaking of Dogberry, Jenny Howard is hilarious in this seminally funny role. Bob Jones, an ASC veteran [outstanding as Bardolph] plays an excellent frustrated Leonato. I was impressed with this production and I look forward to seeing another Leet Shakes & Golden Duck Productions presentation.
Jennifer L. Jones, Katie Page, and Shae Armstrong in Much Ado About Nothing. Photo courtesy of Leet Shakes/Golden Duck Productions. 

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