Bob Hupp’s love of Shakespeare and his desire to take the Arkansas Repertory Theatre beyond its Main Street confines mean the second Rep appearance in four years at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts.
Officially opening Friday, July 1, William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” will be offered in a sneak preview, along with dis-cussion with director Hupp, beginning at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Wildwood’s Swan Lake.
Hupp and the Rep presented “The Tempest” at Wildwood in 2002. “Much Ado About Nothing” is one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated romantic comedies and will run through Saturday, July 16, with performances Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Hupp will lead a discus-sion starting at 7:15 p.m. before each performance. The Wednesday, July 6, show will be signed for the hearing impaired.
New York actress Amy Tribbey, who has starred in several Rep productions, including “Proof,” returns to play Beatrice. Scott Barrow, who was also in “Proof,” plays Benedick. Stafford Clark-Price, who was the scene-stealing Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” on the Rep main stage last year, is Claudio in this production. Clark-Price’s wife, Erin Moon, plays Hero.
In the story, young lovers Hero and Claudio, waiting to be married in a week, pass the time by conspiring to set a “lover’s trap” for confirmed bachelor Benedick and Beatrice, his favorite sparring partner. Meanwhile, the evil Don John conspires to break up the wedding and wreck eve-ryone’s well-laid plans. Only the hapless and hilarious Captain of the Watch, Dogberry, stands between the lovers and certain disaster.
Rep set designer Mike Nichols has created an open, airy structure of painted steel platforms to represent a late 18th century home next to the lake. Ellen Mandell, who has collaborated with Hupp on other Rep efforts, composed the original score.
Tickets are $35 for tented seating at tables and $28 for lawn seating. Call the Rep at 378-0405. Patrons may bring blankets or lawn chairs and picnic dinners into the park. Box dinners of smoked beef tenderloin or grilled citrus chicken and/or a wine and cheese basket for two, pro-vided by R.S.V.P. Catering, may be purchased by calling the Rep’s box office.