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Hero, Defined

Saturday 21 February 2015

In most productions of Much Ado About Nothing, the Hero character is anything but: shy and retiring, swept along by the events and other (mostly male) characters, and with about as much character development as a scrim.

OSF: fixed that.

Much Ado occupies what we like to call a “family crowd-pleaser” slot in this, the Festival’s 80th season. That’s a show that is usually a little more “accessible”, has lots of comedy, and is pretty safe for all ages. Last year it was The Cocoanuts.

The production that previewed tonight, already amazing due to the standout performances by veterans Danforth Comins, Jack Willis, and and Cristofer Jean, and Christiana Clark in her second season, is raised to a new level by the fact that Hero is a real person and not a cardboard cut-out to be chased, chastised, killed, and then propped back up for the final scene: Claudio’s girlfriend, Leonato’s daughter, the dead chick, and finally, the bride.

OSF newbie Leah Anderson brings actual fire and passion to the role, making Hero stronger and more alive than is often (usually) the case. Yes, she still has to “die”, but before and after that, she’s a presence onstage right up there with the other major characters.

This is an epochal production; if you think you’ve seen Much Ado too many times to enjoy a new production, you need to see this one.

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