About 400 years before “Seinfeld” there was another hit comedy about “nothing” —one that’s now coming to a Juneau stage.
The local theater company Theatre in the Rough is set to perform the Shakespeare classic “Much Ado About Nothing,” a five-act comedy recounting a tale that juxtaposes two love stories that go down drastically different paths to find their happily ever after.
The play touches on themes like humor, confusion and misunderstanding and how easy it can be for things to go awry when people don’t communicate properly. For the characters, things that once were nothing become everything, which the director and actor in the performance Aaron Elmore said makes this play all too relatable even centuries later.
“Human beings tend to do the same things over and over again, and you can kind of see yourself in the characters,” Elmore said.
For 31 years, Elmore and fellow director and actor Katie Jensen, have been putting on productions in Juneau via their company Theatre in the Rough. The pair created it based on their deep love of Shakespeare and love of local theater.
Elmore said this rendition of “Much Ado About Nothing” is special because of its sheer amount of comedy, and this will be the biggest cast the company has had in more than 20 years. Along with a large cast, the play will also feature live music and dance to go along with the original script.
“This is ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ like you’ve never seen it before,” Jensen said. She said the production’s choice to feature both live music and dance is something she is most excited about and is not typical to do in a Shakespeare play.
And, to make things even more excited, the production team added modern twists to the characters and story lines which makes it unique and more relevant for today’s audiences. Jensen said she can’t give away too many details about the tweaks to the classic. She said if people want to know what the changes are, they’ll just have to come and see it.
“This is a very human play,” Jensen said. “It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking — you’ll go home on an incredible roller coaster.”
Jensen said she hopes people in Juneau come and watch this play, in particular, to find comfort and relatability in the character’s mistakes and mishaps. But most of all, she hopes people can enjoy themselves and find humor even in what seems like dark times.
“There is something therapeutic about laughter, especially right now,” Jensen said. “It’s extremely hilarious and that’s something that we need right now — to find humor in ourselves and laugh at ourselves.”
Ben Krall, who plays the character Dogberry, is a clown who he analogizes as ” if Yogi Berra was a cop.” Krall grew up watching Theatre in the Rough performances and even performed in a few plays with the company when he was in high school, before moving to Oregon to pursue a bachelor’s in science and theater. Now, almost 10 years later, he’s back in town and excited to be performing again in his hometown.
“I just love it,” Krall said. “It’s really one of the best Shakespeare plays — it’s the original romantic comedy.”
What: Theatre in the Rough presents “Much Ado About Nothing.”
When: Doors open at 7 p.m. for the evening shows and 1:30 p.m. for the matinee shows. Evening shows are set for July 8-9, 14-16, 21-23 and 28-30. Meatiness are scheduled for July 24 and 31.
Where: McPhetres Hall, 325 Gold St.