Christopher Prentice as Beatrice and Matt Daniels as Benedick

‘Much Ado’ Opens Illinois Shakes Fest, Stars Prentice as Beatrice

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Christopher Prentice as Beatrice and Matt Daniels as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Photo: Pete Guither.Pete Guither
Christopher Prentice as Beatrice and Matt Daniels as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival opens its 37th season tonight, July 11, with Shakespeare’s bantering comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Directed by Jonathan West, the all-male production, inspired by “original practices,” stars Christopher Prentice and Matt Daniels as the sparring couple, Beatrice and Benedick.

According to press notes: Messina’s soldiers have returned from victory abroad to discover new battles at home! Sworn bachelor Benedick and his fiery counterpart Beatrice engage in a war of words and wit while their friends watch their attraction grow stronger with every skirmish. Meanwhile, Claudio plans to wed his true love Hero, unaware of the villainous Don John’s desire to foil his plans.

The company also includes Thomas Anthony Quinn as Leonato, Todd Denning as Don Pedro, Norman Moses as Dogberry and Balthasar, Fredric Stone as Friar Francis, Michael Pine as Claudio, Colin Lawrence as Hero, Phillip Ray Guevara as Don John, Jack Dwyer as Margaret, Colin Trevino-Odell as Ursula, Timuchin Aker as Verges, Wigasi Brant as Hugh Oatcake, Ron Román as Borachio, Joey Banks as Conrade and Robert Michael Johnson as the Sexton. The musicians are Adrienne Boni, Michelle Plunkett, and Pamela Schuett.

Much Ado features costume design by Lauren M. Lowell, scenic design by Kristin Ellert, lighting design by Sarah EC Maines, original music by Shannon Marie O’Neill, and choreography by Jean Kerr. Jamie K. Fuller is the stage manager.

Much Ado About Nothing runs through Aug. 9 in rep with Elizabeth Rex and Antony and Cleopatra at the Theatre at Ewing, on the grounds of Ewing Manor, in Bloomington, Ill.