A detailed guide to the planning, rehearsal and performance process of one show at American Players Theatre (APT), Much Ado About Nothing.
The attention to process will most likely be entertaining to APT's audience. After 23 years of attending productions and living in Spring Green, I learned a number of new things that I hadn't considered as an audience member and APT employee.
Theater can (and probably should) feel like a magic trick - a live performance that somehow transports you to a whole other place each time. But it’s also work - complicated teamwork, assembled and executed by trained professionals, using their talents and experience to build the worlds and tell the stories we see from our seats.
And now, thanks to Much Ado, journalist Michael Lenehan’s incisive observation (he had full access to the rehearsal process) of the 2014 production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at APT, everyone can know more about the work - the struggles, the fun, the collaboration, but most of all the choices - that turn a five hundred year old text into a play you see today. You'll get up close with the director, David Frank; the actors, led by David Daniel and Colleen Madden; the stage manager, Evelyn Matten; and lots of other players in the APT sandbox. And you'll see the many building blocks that make up each production - from matching play and director, to choosing designers, through casting and rehearsal, and then to performance. Mike brings his reporter’s eye and his fan’s intensity to Much Ado - so take some time, and learn a little bit about magic.
Much Ado, written by award-winning journalist Michael Lenehan, gives readers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the lauded American Players Theatre's 2014 production of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout has called the APTbased in the unassuming town of Spring Green, Wisconsin"the best classical theater company in America." It's also one of the most successful, with an annual budget of $6 million and ticket sales of more than 100,000 each season. Performing almost entirely outdoors, rain or shine, on the "Up the Hill" stage, the company has established a reputation for authentic, accessible, entertaining showsand Much Ado was no exception, selling nearly 23,000 tickets during its five-month run. Through Lenehan's keen reporter eyes, Much Ado explores the evolution of this complicated stage production, from casting to costumes to curtain call. In doing so, it provides readers with a deeper sense of the company's astonishing artistry and craft, a peek into the intricate technical logistics involved with outdoor theater, and a refreshing perspective on one of the Bard's most famous plays. Lenehan weaves together firsthand observations and literary analysis with interviews with key members of the APT's artistic ensemble and production staffincluding lauded director David Frank, lead actors Colleen Madden (Beatrice) and David Daniel (Benedick), and set and costume designer Robert Morganto paint a remarkable portrait of one of our most treasured artistic institutions.
About the Author
Michael Lenehan is an award-winning Chicago-based writer and editor who for many years was the chief editorial executive at the Chicago Reader. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly, where he was a contributing editor in the 1980s and 90s, and for Chicago magazine and the New York Times, among others. He is the author of Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball. He grew up in Fair Lawn, NJ, and graduated from Notre Dame. He lives in Chicago with his wife Mary Williams."