Much ado at Jenkins Ranch Park

Arts & Entertainment

Much ado at Jenkins Ranch Park

Merely Players’ Studio Series refreshes Shakespeare
Jason Lythgoe (Benedick) and Mandy Gardner (Beatrice) rehearse for Merely Players’ “Much Ado About Nothing.’

Much ado at Jenkins Ranch Park

Jason Lythgoe (Benedick) and Mandy Gardner (Beatrice) rehearse for Merely Players’ “Much Ado About Nothing.’
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Rethinkng the Bard

In summer 2019, I saw a short version of a Shakespeare comedy at a brewery in Denver called “Shakesbeer.” Earlier this year, as Merely Players was rehearsing “Macbeth,” I started canvassing some of the other cast members to see if they might be interested in doing something like “Shakesbeer.”
On March 11, Geoff (Johnson), Stephen (Bowers) and I met at my place to brainstorm a version of “Much Ado.” At the same time, the world started to shut down. The project was shelved and we all went into full quarantine mode.
But as the haze began to lift, Geoff and I bounced drafts back and forth for a cut version of “Much Ado.” In late June, we started piecing together a cast from people we had worked with before. Our first meeting was in my backyard, sitting 6 feet apart.
Although we had no idea when, where or how we were going to put on a show, I think we were all excited to have something to dream about. Shortly after, Mona Wood-Patterson asked us if we would like to do the show under the auspice of the Merely Players Studio Series. Under her guidance, and with the support of the company, we took it step by step from there – touching and kissing sticks instead of fellow actors so we wouldn’t have to get close; checking out countless parks and other venues; and discussing how we could assemble an audience safely.
We built the airplane as it was flying. And suddenly, we had a show and a space that would work to perform. Our cast couldn’t be more excited to bring this giddy show to Durango as a return of live theater.
Jeff Graves

If you go

WHAT: “Much Ado About Nothing,” a comedy by William Shakespeare, presented by The Merely Players Studio Series.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Sept. 24, 25 and 26; and 2 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27.

WHERE: Jenkins Ranch Park, 435 Jenkins Ranch Road.


MORE INFORMATION: Visit for special COVID-19 and venue considerations.

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