Once upon a time I went to two shows and they were called Much Ado about Nothing and Hamlet. And they were not in Chicago; they were in Michigan. So, I have done Lakeside Shakespeare reviews a lot, but it wasn't really Lakeside Shakespeare, it was InaLittleRehearsalRoom Shakespeare. I think I like Lakeside Shakespeare better than InaLittleRehearsalRoom Shakespeare because it helps you understand the story better because the actors are more focused on the part they are playing because they have been doing it for longer and then they can express themselves more. Everybody is in all of their costumes and you get to have a little picnic. Then you get to hear what the audience thinks about it and you can compare your opinion to their opinion. I enjoyed it. I would recommend seeing Hamlet first because then there are all these sad things, but then soon you will be watching Dogberry (Noah Simon) in Much Ado about Nothing saying all these hilarious things.
I thought Hamlet was perfectly sad but also had little chunks of funniness to it. So when something was really sad and you thought you were going to cry, then something funny would happen, but sometimes they didn't have a funny part, just a sad part, and then you just had to cry. Like at the very end when everybody has died except for like 4 people.
In the first scene there were two policemen (Noah Simon & Josh Zagoren) and Horatio (Dennis William Grimes) and they were out on a balcony I think and they saw the Ghost of King Hamlet (Matt Kahler) going through the sky. But they can't actually point at the king up in the sky because they don't have a flying machine in the woods. I thought it was like people could see it for a brief time but then it would turn invisible because ghosts can turn invisible. I was very much convinced because it is convincing if people are like, "Wow! look at that!" and people look really scared. The dead king's name is Hamlet and his son is named Hamlet. If they had a girl her name would be Gertrude.
In Hamlet there were girls playing boys' parts. So in the original version, Laertes is a boy, but Elizabeth Laidlaw was not playing a boy; she was playing a girl, so they just changed it. I thought that was a cool choice because it made it seem more like it was their own version. Ophelia (Brittany Burch) and Laertes wouldn't have the same relationship with each other if one of them was a boy and one of them was a girl because if there is a girl and girl they both think about the same things because they are both girls. Polonia (Lily Mojekwu) is usually not named Polonia. It is usually Polonius, so it sounds like a boy's name, but in this version it was a girl. Polonia is supposed to be annoying but hilarious and I think Lily Mojekwu did a great job in expressing that. I felt bad for Polonia because she got stabbed because Hamlet thought that she was the king, but she double wasn't. She kept interrupting Ophelia and Laertes while they were walking away. She would say things like "Don't express your passion too much," then they would have to keep stopping and turn and listen and while they were walking away she would keep cutting them off. I thought that was really funny. Rosencrantz (Jillian Rafa) and Guildenstern (Sara Gorsky) were beheaded. After you see this play, you don't think Hamlet is a very nice person because he kills his friends--not directly, but he has them killed. They are working for the King (Jeff Christian) but they don't know he is evil. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern think that Hamlet is going insane and they are trying to help him so he can just get all this insaneness over with.
In Hamlet there are these players (Josh Zagoren, Danny Taylor, Noah Simon, Matt Kahler, and Nadia Daniels Moehle) who are going to put on a play for Hamlet. But the players are not dressed in nice tights. They are dressed in shirts with peace signs and tie-dyed with bandanas around their heads. And then they were singing a song that went, "Stop, look, what's that sound, everybody just turn around." Or something along the lines of that. I thought it was really funny to think of the players as hippies with sunglasses and all. And then they put on a play about Hamlet's father's death which didn't give a very soothing effect to his stepfather.
When they were performing the play, the players didn't talk in pretty voices; they still sounded like hippies like they did before. Except for the Queen (Danny Taylor), because he was the best actor. I don't know how Queen Gertrude (Christy Arrington) felt about a guy playing her that didn't look at all like her. Queen Gertrude loves her husband who was also her other husband's brother but actually killed his brother so he could marry the queen, have a lot of money, and be the king. She loves her son Hamlet, but I don't know if he loves her because of their hasty marriage.
Hamlet (Shane Kenyon) is the biggest role in Hamlet because his name is in the title; it is the whole entire title. When you go, you are expecting it to be sad and Hamlet is supposed to be really serious, but then he is also very funny, like when the players come in, then Hamlet is tapping his foot because they are playing some catchy music. In the the graveyard scene, The gravedigger (Noah Simon) was saying insulting things about Hamlet because he didn't know that the person he was talking to was Hamlet. He said "oh he is crazy and gone off to England," something like that. I thought the graveyard scene was really funny because of how Hamlet reacted to the gravedigger when he said "He's so crazy, and I'm glad he's never coming back." He was like, "I'm glad too that he's never coming back, but I'm actually right here." He doesn't say that out loud, it is just how he looks. He's just a regular guy coming in to look at graves in a castle. Who does that? The prince! Not somebody outside of the Denmark castle! I don't know why the alas poor Yorrick speech didn't give the gravedigger a clue that he was the prince.
When Ophelia went mad, she sang this creepy song, which I don't dare repeat. It is so scary. She seemed like the craziest person in the world. I don't mean she is actually a crazy person; she is a very nice girl. I mean she did a good job acting like a crazy person.
The last scene has Laertes and Hamlet fighting. They are fighting because Hamlet killed her mother by accident and that made Ophelia go crazy and fall off the tree which made her drown. If Ophelia wasn't crazy she might have had the sense to try to swim out. I thought the last fight was very realistic because everybody did actual fighting moves and didn't just do made-up fighting moves. It made you feel scared for Hamlet and Laertes. All the people that you like die, except for three people: the two policemen and Horatio. And that's why it is called a tragedy.
The first scene didn't include everybody bathing in a weird funny way, which happens in the movie. Everybody lined up in their best clothes. I thought this was a better way to express that they were excited than taking a big bath. It also started with the song "Hey, Nonny Nonny." I think it is a very pretty song, but you can make it a jazz song like they did in this play. I thought it was more fun because the play is pretty but also very dramatic and also a comedy.
In this show, they used a lot of audience participation. One: all the kids got masks at the beginning and went up and danced for the masquerade scene. I got to do that, and I thought it was really fun to get to go up on stage and dance. Two: Leonato (Jeff Christian) and the Prince (Matt Kahler) and Claudio were all walking through the aisle and Claudio got a chair stuck on him and the Prince stole people's beer, and Leonato came over and kissed my baby doll, and then the Prince said, "he's running for President, you better wash that baby." And I did wash that baby. I thought that was really awesomely funny to think that this guy was running for president because there were no presidents in that time. Number three: When Benedick was spying on the Prince and Claudio and they said, "Did you hear that Beatrice is madly in love with Benedick?" And then they said something about Beatrice pounding her heart and saying she'll die if Benedick doesn't love her and she'll die if he does. And then the audience participation comes in. Then Benedick picks up a beer and hides behind that, and then he picks up a chair and hides behind that. Claudio and the Prince and Leonato looked when he was carrying the chair like "Why is that chair floating?" and then he picked up a girl that was about 5 or 6 and he hid behind her and was carrying her! It was hilarious. Everybody was like, "Why is that little girl floating?" Four: and then a while later, Borachio (Shane Kenyon) kept saying "Conrad? Where are you?" And Conrad (Brittany Burch) was in a lawn chair having a beer. And then she said, "Nothing much. I'm just enjoying the show," which I thought was really funny because it is not supposed to be a show, it is supposed to be real life.
In Beatrice's scene that was like Benedick's scene where he hides behind things in the audience, she didn't hide in the audience. She hid in the background and on stage. So the first thing that she did was hear them say, "Did you hear that Benedick is madly in love with the Lady Beatrice?" And then she stumbled, she was in high heels and clung to a branch. And then her fingers slipped off the branch and then she hid behind a flowerpot. And then she came down and put on Misha's, the sound designer's, hat and went around with that on as a disguise. And I thought that was really funny because she was like "What??!! He loves me?" Beatrice and Benedick are both good at fighting each other with words. There is a slight chance that they might be hiding that they like each other. I think that they like each other but they don't know if they actually like each other or if they are actually enemies. At the beginning I don't think they make a good couple, but at the end they do.
Dogberry is a funny but a little bit smart character. Dogberry mostly doesn't know very much but he does know a few things. One, he knows how to sing; two, he knows how to give orders; and, three, he knows how to yell. I think one of the funniest things that Dogberry does is when he keeps interrupting people. And whenever he interrupts people everybody has to stop, so he is exactly like Polonia. My favorite scene that Dogberry is in is the court scene. So Borachio and Conrad were both in court because they had both been talking about Don John's (Josh Zagoren) mischievous plan with Hero. And the judge says that the lady Hero is dead and all the watchmen said "Darn!" And all the watchmen, who had fake mustaches on were mostly women except for one. And then Conrad said to Dogberry "You are an ass!" Which is a big insult. But Dogberry said, "Write that down. I am an ass. Well, the person that is supposed to be writing everything down is gone, so everybody remember, I AM AN ASS." Getting everybody to remember that you are an ass (which he really isn't an ass; he actually just doesn't remember many things) I think that is really funny to think that the most important thing for you to know in court is that a bad guy says that you are an ass. That is actually the least important thing to know. That the lady Hero is dead, that is one of the most important things to know in court.
Hero, on the night before her wedding day, Claudio "caught" her kissing and running away with another boy. But it wasn't really Hero; it was her cousin Margaret. She is already asleep when this happens. It is an important part to know that Claudio gets really mad at her for making out with another guy, and I think it is a weird idea to tell her on a completely different day than when he found out. Much ado about nothing means a bunch of hoo-ha for no particular reason. The play is called Much Ado about Nothing because there is a bunch of hoo-ha for no particular reason about Hero kissing Borrachio.
People who would like these shows are people who like big fight scenes, girls playing boys, and Noah Simon being the hilariousest Dogberry in the world. It is too late to see them this year, but you should see what they are going to do next year!