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Much Ado About Nothing

Directed by: Gerald Gutierrez

The Acting Company (Washington, DC) – 1987


Much Ado About Nothing (1987)



In 1987, The Acting Company set Much Ado About Nothing in 1930s Cuba, and the show’s success led to its transfer to the Kennedy Center. According to the theater, it utilized “the Roman catholic morality and machismo ethics indigenous to the period and locale as an appropriate backdrop. This romantic flavor, including tango dances and Latin rhythms, add further spice to the delightful and dramatic moments in Much Ado.”[1]


One reviewer noted, “For the most part, the colorful details – the hairdos laced with orchids, the fat after-dinner cigars, the tinny Victrola and the vintage barber’s chair – all make perfect sense under the circumstances.”[2] Shakespeare’s language was maintained, though some words were translated and others modernized. For example, “Dogberry is apt to say ‘adios’ instead of ‘adieu’” and some other words were modernized. [3] Several reviews found the transposition to be topical and commented more on the young acting company’s strength with characterization and language. One reviewer commented, “The shrewdness of the resetting, however, is not so much thematic as theatrical.”[4]


The show starred Spencer Beckwith as Benedick and Alison Stair Neet as Beatrice, Irwin Appel as Dogberry. Cast changed as it toured – nationally, was at John Houseman theater in New York. It played at the Doolittle in Los Angeles in January 1988.[5]


To note, Michael Kahn was Artistic Director of both the Folger Theatre and of the Acting Company at this time.




JULY 2022


[1] “Much Ado About Nothing,” The Acting Company.

[2] David Richards. “Much Ado Shakespeare’s Hot Tropics,” The Washington Post, 26 May 1988.

[3] David Richards. “Much Ado Shakespeare’s Hot Tropics,” The Washington Post, 26 May 1988.

[4] Walter Goodman, “Stage: Much Ado in Cuba,” The New York Times, 14 May 1987.

[5] Janice Arkatov, A Much Ado Set in 1930s Cuba,” The Los Angeles Times, 24 Jan 1988.

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