July 31, 2008


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Merry tales
One comedy by Shakespeare, another about him
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The Beard of Avon in Nashua
Bawdy jokes with just enough euphemism to confuse small children run through The Beard of Avon. The jokes make Amy Freed’s modern take on who wrote Shakespeare’s plays plenty accessible to those non-Shakespeare scholars who claim a patch of grass at Greeley Park in Nashua. Squeezed in between are references to playwriting technique, as Will Shaxpere becomes a “brand.” There are points made to the argument, such as the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, having far more treacherous life experience to match Shakespeare’s stories.

What seems a simple device, borrowing Shakespeare’s name since a nobleman can’t go about penning plays, gets out of hand in farce-like fashion when Shakespeare somehow becomes a ghostwriter under his own name — which could be nom de plume. The first part as an actor he’s offered after running away from his wife in Stratford after becoming enraptured with a group of players is that of a spear shaker. Get it? He shakes a spear?

Yellow Taxi Productions used a small stage within the band shell at Greeley Park in Nashua, limited props and full period costumes for this outdoor free performance Saturday, July 26.

Gail Angellis gave a commanding performance as Queen Elizabeth. Both the queen and De Vere, played by Steve Triebes, are quicker to kill or have killed anyone who dares criticize anything they might possibly have written.

Freed has Anne Hathaway decide to go after her husband Will, who’s joined players in London after becoming enraptured by them. She disguises herself as a whore, and amazingly, Shakespeare can’t seem to discern that the working woman he’s fallen for is actually his wife. Suzanne Delle, YTP founder, plays the part with relish and it has many good lines, including, “You’ll write? I can’t read, bastard!” It’s her response to Shakespeare leaving her again, when he calls out that he’ll write — which she takes to mean letters to her, rather than scripts.

No, this is not a show that takes itself seriously, but there are layers of historic, theatrical, literary and Shakespearean references to pick out, if you are so inclined. And it’s plenty funny, if you are just looking for free entertainment.

Put your seat up close, and bring bug spray. The Beard of Avon plays at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 3, at Greeley Park on Concord Street in Nashua. James Phillips directs. Visit www.yellowtaxiproductions.org or see 791-4558 for more.

Much Ado in Peterborough
If however, you are wont to take in a comedy allegedly by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Circle Theatre is running Much Ado About Nothing outdoors in Peterborough.

Theoretically, it’s outdoors. The rain started probably about 20 minutes or so before ACT planned to perform their version, set in a 1919 New England garden party, on Sunday, July 27. The company carried props and set pieces down the block to their back-up venue, a teen center. That created much ado while furniture was moved and the audience tried to create their own seating arrangement.

The show started only slightly late, and the smaller space made for a more intimate experience. The chaos gave the event more of that “let’s put on a show” feel and the audience pretty much couldn’t help being involved in the project.

The actors’ ability to move their production and hit the boards as soon as they were sorted echoed those traditions of traveling players. The Elizabethan tradition allows for a Shakespeare play to be picked up and put anywhere, such as the end of World War I, but also, literally picked up and moved elsewhere, as ACT did.

Peter Eisenstadter is almost a scene-stealer as Benedick. (He used to be an Equity actor.) Wendy Almeida kept up in their verbal sparring as Beatrice. Kimberly Miller makes Hero a lighthearted ingenue with enough depth to engineer a well-intentioned trick on her dear cousin Beatrice.

Constance, played by Mary Armstrong, replaces normally male Conrade, companion of sullen Don John (Evan Baker), half brother of the prince, Don Pedro (Scott Katrycz).

The cast is too large to mention everyone, but the community play was worth the drive and the well-executed scenes kept the audience smiling.

Much Ado About Nothing closes with 3 p.m. shows Saturday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 3, at 1 Phoenix Mill Lane in Peterborough. If it’s raining, the show will probably be at 40 Grove St. Tickets only cost $5, or bring a canned food donation. Mariah Sefel directs. See www.actorscircletheatre.org or call 924-3876.

Kirstin Acton contributed to this report.

7/24/2008 Review: the great outdoors

7/17/2008 Curtain calls
7/10/2008 Musical monsters
7/3/2008 Curtain calls
6/26/2008 Curtain calls
6/19/2008 Summer stock
6/12/2008 Curtain calls
6/5/2008 This one time, at drama camp...
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5/1/2008 Forging ahead
4/24/2008 The Bard, condensed
4/17/2008 'Balance' in Bedford
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4/3/2008 Singing for a cause
3/27/2008 These aren't recitals folks
3/20/2008 Albee at MRT
3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
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1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
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12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
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11/1/2007 First times
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10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
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9/27/2007 Stringing single
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8/9/2007 Curtain Calls
8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
7/26/2007 Potty humor
7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
7/5/2007 If it's free, it's for me
6/28/2007 Transformations
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6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
6/7/2007 Curtain calls
5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
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5/10/2007 Curtain Calls
5/3/2007 Curtain Calls
4/26/2007 Still going strong
4/19/2007 Vietnam the the Palace
4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
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12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
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11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
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08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
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07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
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07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
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04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
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10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
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Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
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Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
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Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
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The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother