WEEKEND: ‘Much Ado’ to take over Port Townsend’s Chetzemoka Park
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Benedick (Jeff Allen Pierce) and Beatrice (Amy Sousa) do battle in “Much Ado about Nothing,” the Shakespeare in the Park production opening tonight, Aug. 2, in Port Townsend. -- Photo by Philip L. Baumgaertner

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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NOTE: “Today” and “tonight” refer to Friday, Aug. 2; “Saturday” and “Sunday” refer to Aug. 3 and 4.

PORT TOWNSEND — There is a moment of revelation in “Much Ado about Nothing,” and it’s both terrifying and romantic.

For actor Amy Sousa, this passage is one of the most delicious in a Shakespeare comedy that’s full of juicy moments.

“Much Ado,” opening tonight on the outdoor stage at Chetzemoka Park, is a story of love, misunderstanding and courage. It stars Sousa as Beatrice opposite Benedick, the one guy who can keep up with her.

Both have both spoken loud and often about how neither will ever marry.

But there comes a time when, well, they must reveal a deeper truth.

When asked to choose one word for Beatrice, Sousa picked “passionate.”

So if she’s going to have a man at her side, he’d better be equally fierce. And “Much Ado” is all about each finding out what the other is made of.

Benedick is played by Seattle actor Jeff Allen Pierce, recently seen in “The Big Bang” at the Key City Playhouse. Like Sousa, he’s wanted to play his “Much Ado” character for a long time — and like his leading lady, Pierce is enamored with this treatment of the play.

Longtime Key City Public Theatre principal and New York City-trained thespian Amanda Steurer is directing “Much Ado” for just three weekends. Show times are at 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays tonight through Aug. 18 at Chetzemoka Park at Jackson and Blaine streets; seating starts at 5:30 p.m. Advance tickets aren’t needed, and admission is a suggested donation of $18 to $20, or $10 for students. Information awaits at 360-385-5278 and www.KeyCityPublicTheatre.org.

Steurer is just plain rapturous about this play. The young couple Hero (Emily Huntingford) and Claudio (David Traylor) “are so innocent, and they remind me of those love-at-first-sight moments you believe in so fully at one time in your life (OK, maybe still believe in). Then I watch Benedick and Beatrice,” she said, “and the emotional roller coaster that their love/hate journey goes on and hits a chord, deep.

“[‘Much Ado’] is updated a lot,” the director noted; Josh Whedon’s movie version is one of the latest treatments.

“This production,” Steurer declared, “is going to have a beautiful look as well as telling a great story.”

Steurer and Sousa studied together at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting, so “it is crazy,” says Sousa, “that this is the first major creative collaboration we have had since college.”

She trusts Steurer completely. And Sousa believes in her vision of “Much Ado” so fully, she said, that she’s been able to push herself to moments of emotion she’s not sure would have come with another director.

Pierce, meanwhile, calls Steurer’s plan for the play “different and wonderful.”

The words are still Shakespeare’s, he adds, “but you have never and will never see a production like this again.”

“Much Ado” has its lead players rhapsodizing too about the meaning of it all.

“Love comes in many different sizes and shapes. It isn’t always fluffy and easy,” Pierce says.

“Sometimes you find love in the places you least expect it. The key to having love is to be open and accepting of it in whatever form it takes.”

Sousa feels it, too. “We can be so afraid,” she says, “that we keep ourselves shut up rather than feel any pain.

“We can be so insecure that we misjudge and attack those we love the most . . . [but] if we allow ourselves to love, we become stronger and bigger people,” she believes. We become “more generous, more loving, more free.”

Last modified: August 01. 2013 6:12PM
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