Shakespeare returns to the Orchard for ‘Much Ado About Nothing'

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    WARWICK-"Shakespeare in the Orchard" returns to the Warwick Valley Winery for its 2nd summer of theatre under the stars in the winery's "orchard theatre." The memories of last July's presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" -- the fairies, the beautiful costumes of the late-1800's era, the music, the incorporation of the pear trees next to the stage, the hounds, with the audience area surrounded by a border of torches n all created a magical atmosphere that the audience, as well as the cast and crew of The Illustrious Theatre Company, will long remember. Because of last summer's success, this year's "Much Ado About Nothing" will be performed over three weekends, July 16th through Aug. 1. The Illustrious Theatre Company, the not-for-profit company in residence at the winery formed less than two years ago, has enjoyed an auspicious beginning. The shows performed indoors during the fall, winter, and spring, including "Dancing at Lughnasa", "The Fantasticks," "Love Letters" as well as a number of new plays in development, all played to sold-out, or near sold-out, audiences. And not knowing what to expect as far as audience size for last summer's first "Shakespeare in the Orchard" production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the new company was thrilled when audiences of 250 n 400 attended nightly. The company's founder and artistic director Mary Clifford attributes this success to a combination of the wonderful setting of the Warwick Valley Winery, the talent of the actors and production staff, and the region's desire for quality theatre. Clifford stated "We owe so much to the Grizzanti's (owners of the winery) who took a leap of faith in opening their doors to us. And how can you beat the atmosphere of a natural amphitheatre surrounded by fruit trees at a winery under the stars as a showcase for the works of William Shakespeare? We also believed that if we could provide a supportive atmosphere for the actors and production artists in which to work, we would attract the caliber of talent audiences enjoy." The comedy of Much Ado is derived from the characters themselves and the mores of the society in which they lived. The main plot of Much Ado revolves around obstacles to the union of two young lovers (Claudio and Hero); however, the play's sub-plot, the "merry war" of the sexes between Beatrice and Benedick, is considered by many to be much more interesting and entertaining. The Warwick Valley Winery is located at 114 Little York Road, just off County Route 1 near Pine Island. Curtain time for Friday and Saturday is 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7:30. "Bring your own lawn chair" is the preferred seating for most, although there will be a special area reserved for blankets. It is recommended to bring a sweater or jacket, as it tends to get cool in the orchard after the sun goes down. Advance tickets, valid for any one performance, are available at the winery, The Bookstore in Warwick, or at Healthy Thymes Market in Vernon, or by calling 258-4858. Ticket prices are $13 regular and $10 for seniors and students; children under 7 are free.