Shakespeare Company brings a stylish take on the Bard to downtown
venturesome grey ducks waddle daintily into the northern fringes
of the audience watching Much Ado About Nothing in Congress
Park, and stop. One quacks. The city’s powers-that-be don’t
want anyone feeding the birds but, clearly, the birds are
cruising for a snack. In short order, they are disappointed.
The trio turn tail and waddle back into the water by the park’s
warm Tuesday night, on the eve of the opening of the Saratoga
Race Course, there is no lack of things to do in bustling
downtown Saratoga Springs. Restaurants are busy; outdoor patios
are full; people window-shop (or actually shop) along Broadway;
and kids ride the carousel. A large audience have instead
brought their lawn chairs and blankets to Congress Park to
see a play. Yes, it’s free—but it’s also good.
the large crowds that turn out for Saratoga Shakespeare Company’s
summer performances in Congress Park aren’t there to picnic.
Except for the odd kid (or journalist), no one pays attention
to wandering waterfowl. Folks are there to enjoy the theater,
and there’s plenty about this Shakespeare-in-the-park experience
does their bit to make this possible. As their Web site states,
with their “superior” sound system, they can accommodate up
to 1,000 people in the audience. It’s true. While I don’t
think there were quite that many people on the lawn,
the sound was superb—you can hear the actors clearly as far
away as the Canfield Casino.
their eight seasons in the Spa City, Saratoga Shakespeare
have performed, for the most part, comedies, including A
Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew,
The Comedy of Errors and The Complete Works of William
Shakespeare (Abridged). And they’ve earned kudos from
local critics for it. While this makes sense—who really wants
King Lear on a warm summer evening after, say, mojitos
on an outdoor restaurant patio?—it’s also more demanding,
because, well, comedy is more demanding. That’s why this wonderfully
timed, cleverly staged production is so rewarding.
Ado About Nothing is the story of one relationship that
almost goes horribly awry because of familial envy and unjust
jealousy, and another that, thanks to pride and spite, almost
doesn’t happen at all.
Claudio, deputy to Don Pedro, woos and wins the hand of lovely
young Hero. Malcontented bastard Don John, half-brother of
noble Don Pedro, decides to prevent the match. Meanwhile,
Benedick, another deputy to Don Pedro, swears early on that
he will never marry. Of course, this prompts his friends to
set in motion a plot to see him married to Hero’s cousin,
Beatrice. This is perfect, because Beatrice doesn’t think
all that much of Benedick, or marriage, either.
Bard has written something for everyone. The Claudio-Hero
plot provides the melodrama, with flowery protestations of
love giving way to fiery proclamations of hate. It’s an accessible
emotional hook for the audience; it is, however, easy to forget
that it’s all “much ado about nothing” and go overboard with
the drama (as director Kenneth Branaugh did in his 1990s film
doesn’t happen here, thanks to the cast and director William
A. Finlay. When Don Pedro and Claudio (Andy Place and Brian
Nemiroff, respectively) are duped into behaving dishonorably,
they exhibit as much sorrow as vengeance. (Shannon Rafferty
as the aptly-named ingénue-heroine nicely balances womanly
passion in her scenes with Nemiroff’s Claudio and girlish
enthusiasm in the farcical comic scenes.)
romance delivers the Shakespearian wit and wordplay; Tim Dugan
(as Benedick) and Rebecca McHugh (as Beatrice) banter beautifully
as two people who couldn’t find happiness with a map on their
own, and clearly need the knockabout intervention of friends
to get together.
there is the deliciously lowbrow humor offered up by the constable,
Dogberry (Chris Rickett), and his sidekicks. The audience
very much enjoyed the bad puns and “ass” jokes (and rightly
Shakespeare Company have cultivated significant community
support, both public and private, for their productions. This
year, a grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust
allowed the company to build a new stage, which will be their
“permanent, portable playing space.” It’s impressive for the
variety and flexibility of action it can facilitate; it even
has a trap door (though this is left unused in the current
show). It’s reasonable to expect that the company will continue
to bring a little culture to the downtown scene for years
certainly seemed pleased on this evening. At the end of the
play, after generous applause, the actors went forth into
the audience, literally hat-in-hand, looking for donations.
They didn’t go away disappointed.
final performances of Saratoga Shakespeare Company’s production
of Much Ado About Nothing are tonight (Thursday, July
26) through Saturday (July 28) at 6 PM and Sunday (July 29)
at 2 PM in Congress Park. For more information, visit www.saratogashakespeare.com.
OFF TO SARATOGA (Broadway, Saratoga Springs, saratoga.org/specials-hats-off).
Fri-Sat: Bluz House Rockers, Sarah Pedinotti Band, Pangaea,
Sirsy, Big Medicine, Tequila Mockingbirds, Soul Session, Racing
City Chorus, the GTOs.
SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga
Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Sat: the Moody Blues. Mon: EQXFest
with 311, Matisyahu, Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party, TV on
the Radio, the Nightwatchman, Shiny Toy Guns, the Urgency,
Lughead, the Loyalty, Maggie Mayday, Sunset Aside.
UPBEAT ON THE ROOF (Rooftop patio, Tang Teaching Museum and
Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080).
All shows at 7 PM. Fri: Sonny and Perley with Brian Melick.
MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB). Fri:
New Regime. Sat: Keith Pray’s Soul Jazz Revival.
THE ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga Springs, 587-9766).
Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.
BACKSTREET BILLIARDS (63 Putnam St., Saratoga Springs, 583-2503).
Fri: Vital Remains, Unmerciful, Disciples of Berkowitz.
BRINDISI’S RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262).
Thu, Sun: Al Bruno. Fri: the Accents. Sat: the Heaters.
CAFFE LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu:
open mic (7 PM). Fri: Jo Henley. Sat: Boulder Acoustic Society.
Sun: Jonathan Whitton.
CIRCUS CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Thu:
open mic with Nate Solomon. Sat: karaoke with A-Man Productions;
DJ Tommy. Wed: the Rainbow Room Jazz Trio.
THE CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
HORSESHOE INN (1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909).
Fri: the Audiostars. Sat: the Accents.
IT’S CONFIDENTIAL (38 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-0130).
Thu: Johnny Rabb and the Jailhouse Rockers. Fri: TS Ensemble.
Wed: Latin night.
KING’S TAVERN (241 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, 581-7090).
MOUZON HOUSE (1 York St., Saratoga Springs, 226-0014). Thu:
Joe Gitto/Mo Rancourt duo. Fri: Adrian Cohen Trio. Sat: Mo
Rancourt Trio. Tue: Sarah Pedinotti and the Mouzon House Band.
Wed: Colin McCouy and Peter Davis.
MY WAY CAFÉ (Route 9, Malta, 899-4196). Sun: Brian “D”, Jimmy
Granitto, Nick Barbera and Jack Wyld sing Sinatra.
ONE CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
Thu: Dave Payette Duo. Sat: Rob Lindquist Trio. Sun: Joe Gitto.
Mon: Sarah Pedinotti Band. Tue: Dave Payette. Wed: Tequila
PANZA’S RESTAURANT (Route 9P, Saratoga Lake, 584-6882). Sat:
Peter Van Keuren.
SARATOGA CITY TAVERN (19 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 581-3230).
Fri: the Stillwell Project.
SIRO’S (168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). Thu-Wed:
piano bar with Roger Morris. Thu: the Accents. Fri: Blue Hand
Luke. Sat: Barrence Whitfield. Sun: the Lustre Kings. Mon:
Woof with Ernie Munich. Wed: Wylder.
SPERRY’S (30 ½ Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9618).
Fri-Sat: Phil Drum and friends.
VAPOR NIGHTCLUB (Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, 342 Jefferson
St., Saratoga Springs, 584-2110). Thu: the Original Family
Stone. Sat: Abba: the Tour.
VENUE NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
Comedy Club, the Inn at Saratoga, 231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
7/28, 8:30 PM. Joey Novick and Jodi Weiner. $15, $44.95 dinner
and show package. 792-5233.
Ado About Nothing, Congress Park, Alfred Z. Solomon Stage,
Saratoga Springs. 7/26-28, 6 PM; 7/29, 2 PM. Free. www.saratogashakespeare.com.
Lake Auditorium, 2 Wesley Ave., Round Lake. 7/27, 8 PM: 300
slides on the life and work of Albert Schweitzer, accompanied
by the music of Bach on the auditorium’s antique pipe organ.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park,
Saratoga Springs. 8/1, 8 PM: The Philadelphia Orchestra, under
the direction of Charles Dutoit, will begin their summer season
with performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and the Coriolan
overture. With soloists and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.
Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 7/31, 8 PM: The Claremont Trio will perform works
by Beethoven, Brahms and Paul Schoenfield. Call for prices.
Museums & Galleries
Studio, 492 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-1977. Recycled
steel animals by Rich Kolb. Through 7/31.
Gallery 100, 462 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. 30
Years with the New York City Ballet 1977-2007, photographs
by Paul Kolnik. Through 7/28.
Gallery on the Hudson, 92 Broad St., Schuylerville, 695-6131.
Early and recent paintings by New York City artist Tom Vincent.
Also, works by Susan Reynolds and Joyce Vincent. Ongoing.
National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, 99 S. Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-2225. On Browaday, through October 2008.
Also, The Dawn of Modern Dance: Music, Myth and Movement,
chronicling the lives of Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan;
also, works by Frank Ohman. Ongoing. Also, Two Dancers, photography
by Charles Bremer and poetry by Robert Bensen. Ongoing. Also,
The Moving Figure. Ongoing.
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave.,
Saratoga Springs. 584-0400. The Voss Family, Artists of American
Sporting Life. Through 1/31/08. The Voss Family, Artists of
American Sporting Life; also, California Images: The Racing
Photography of William Mochon; also, the Racing Art Collection
of Charles H. Thieriot Collection. Through 1/31/08.
New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War Field Artillery;
also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary
War; also, World War II: United for Victory; also, Fiery Trial
and Sacrifice: New York and the First World War. Ongoing.
Riverfront Studios, 96 Broad St., Schuylerville. 369-3280.
Uncorrupted Horses, a multi-artist show. Through 8/31.
Saratoga Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga
Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. East of
Detroit, and New York Racing exhibit. Ongoing.
Saratoga County Arts Council, Members Exhibition Hall, 320
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Sculpture by R. Jane
Bouchard. Through 7/30.
Saratoga County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Individual View, works by Ann
Larsen, Jeffrey Braxton, and David R. White. Through 8/4.
Saratoga Springs History Museum, Canfield Casino, Congress
Park, Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Along the Winding River:
A Natural and Human History of the Kayderosseras Creek. Through
Skidmore College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 580-5049. Regis Brodie: A Retrospective. Through
Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Alumni Invitational
2. Through 8/12. Also, West African Masquerade, photographs
by Phyllis Galembo. Through 12/29.
Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs. 8/1, 7 PM: Poetry reading
by Mimi Moriarty and Frank Desiderio. National slam poet Michael
Brown will also give a short reading followed by an open mic
hosted by Carol Graser. $2. 583-0022, www.caffelena.org.
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, Davis Auditorium of Palamountain
Hall. 7/26, 8 PM: Novelist Jamaica Kincaid and poet Henri
Cole will read. 580-5590.
Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs. Friday,
10 AM: Summer Stories: Listen and Learn. Free. 7/28, 11 AM:
Kate Winter presents “America’s Female Mark Twain: Marietta
Holley.” Free. 584-7860.
Arts Center, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Registration
for summer camps is open: Imagination Rules camp for ages
5-7 and Camp Creativity for ages 8-14 both begin. Also, Etudes
Music Studio hosts music workshops for Pre-K-Kindergarten
children to begin 7/30. Various fees, call for reservation.
Saratoga Spa State Park, Route 9, Saratoga Springs. 7/26,
11 AM: Preschool Naturalists: Habitats. This one hour class
will focus on colors, textures and sounds of the world of
nature. Listen to stories, create crafts and play games associated
with the outisde world. Ages 3-5. 584-2000 ext. 119.
Farmers Market, Dave Meager Community Center, Route 9, Malta.
Tuesdays, 11 AM-2 PM.
Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue,
Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.
Fairs & Festivals
Friday, downtown Ballston Spa. 8/3, 6-9 PM. Various performances
and exhibitions. 884-9913, 885-6302.
Phillies Baseball, East Side Recreation Field, 266 Lake Ave.,
Saratoga Springs. 7/27, 7 PM: Little Falls Miners. 7/28, 7
PM: Amsterdam Mohawks. 598-9131.
daily through Sept. 3, except Tuesdays
267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
$3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats
are $6 and $7, respectively
$10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the
Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.
Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.
Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 26,
when it’s at 12:30 PM).
Stakes Races The Whitney Handicap (July 28); the Sword
Dancer Invitational (Aug. 11); the Alabama Stakes (Aug. 18);
the Travers Stakes (Aug. 25); the Woodward (Sept. 1).
Cummings with thoroughbred Money Oriented, at Saratoga Race
Course, July 23.