Merely Players is at it again.
Our evergreen local theater company has found yet another new location in which to perform – Jenkins Ranch Park.
From Sept. 24 to 27, the players will refresh a Shakespearean comedy in that sprawling, grassy arena. “Much Ado About Nothing” will come to life over three nights with two matinees by the Merely Players Studio Series.
“The Studio Series is an exciting addition to our annual mainstage shows,” Mona Wood-Patterson said. The artistic director of Merely Players added that the free performances make sense financially and logistically.
“Our new group continues the company mission of fostering local talent and developing new ways of reaching a larger audience,” she said. “We have worked closely with San Juan Basin Public Health to make this experience as safe as possible.”
Guidelines are listed on the company website and include a reminder to bring a blanket as there are no chairs, wear a mask and leave the family dog home. Designated flag areas will make it easy for families to sit together, and don’t forget to “layer up for unpredictable weather.”
“Jeff Graves and Geoff Johnson proposed this project and made a cut version of ‘Much Ado,” Wood-Patterson said.
The studio group worked throughout the summer to abbreviate, improvise and juggle more playfulness into Shakespeare’s comedy.
Besides Graves and Johnson, six other local actors complete the ensemble: Erin Allen, Stephen Bowers, Brian Devine, Mandy Gardner, Charlie Grice and Jason Lythgoe. Together, they take on all the roles.
Parking is tricky, so arrive early. There are only 12 spots by the tennis courts and no parking is allowed in the medians. Best bet is to find a space in the neighborhood and walk to the park. The show runs 80 minutes.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.