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GREAT PERFORMANCES: Much Ado About Nothing

Stream now or tune in Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. & Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. on KPBS 2 + Aug. 16 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Margaret Odette, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Jeremie Harris in

Credit: Courtesy of Joseph Sinnott

Above: Margaret Odette, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Jeremie Harris in "Much Ado About Nothing."

For the first time in over four decades, GREAT PERFORMANCES series presents a Public Theater production recorded live at Free Shakespeare in the Park.

After a highly successful, critically acclaimed run at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park, “Much Ado About Nothing” joins the third annual GREAT PERFORMANCES “Broadway’s Best” lineup.

Much Ado About Nothing: Preview

This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “The Color Purple”) and Grantham Coleman (“Buzzer,” “The Americans”) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon directs with choreography by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown.

This bold interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedic masterpiece features Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black,” Broadway’s “The Color Purple”) and Grantham Coleman (“Buzzer,” “The Americans”) as the sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick.

Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (“American Son,” “A Raisin in the Sun”) directs with choreography by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown (“Choir Boy”).

First Look

Learn more about this new version of "Much Ado About Nothing," set in a black community in Georgia in the year 2020.

“GREAT PERFORMANCES has a long history of providing audiences free access to the best in theater, from Broadway musicals to Shakespearean classics, and we’re delighted to partner with The Public Theater again,” said GREAT PERFORMANCES Executive Producer David Horn, who directed the play for television. “This modern reinterpretation by Kenny Leon couldn’t be more timely, showing how Shakespeare addressed issues that we are still facing as a country today.”

“The Public is theater of, by and for all people, and we are thrilled that our partnership with GREAT PERFORMANCES will bring our Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Kenny Leon’s brilliant production of 'Much Ado About Nothing' to even more audiences throughout New York City and across the country,” said Patrick Willingham, Executive Director of The Public Theater.

Signor Benedick, "The Prince's Jester"

Signor Benedick, who refuses to reveal his true identity, exchanges japes with Beatrice at the masquerade.

Set in contemporary Georgia with an election race underway, “Much Ado About Nothing” finds the community of Messina celebrating a break from an ongoing war, but not all is peaceful amid the merriment.

Former rivals battle it out, revenge is sought and trickery runs amok in this timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication.

Earning a New York Times Critic’s Pick, the play was recorded during its final weekend of Free Shakespeare in the Park performances, June 22-23, 2019.

Is Beatrice in love?

Beatrice is sick and Margaret suggests the plant "carduus benedictus" to remedy her illness before Hero's wedding.

The cast also includes Jamar Brathwaite (Ensemble), Chuck Cooper (Leonato), Javen K. Crosby (Ensemble), Denzel DeAngelo Fields (Ensemble), Jeremie Harris (Claudio), Tayler Harris (Ensemble), Erik Laray Harvey (Antonio/Verges), Kai Heath (Messenger), Daniel Croix Henderson (Balthasar), Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Friar Francis/Sexton), Tiffany Denise Hobbs (Ursula), Lateefah Holder (Dogberry), LaWanda Hopkins (Dancer), Billy Eugene Jones (Don Pedro), Margaret Odette (Hero), Hubert Point-Du Jour (Don John), William Roberson (Ensemble), Jaime Lincoln Smith (Borachio), Jazmine Stewart (Ensemble), Khiry Walker (Conrade/Ensemble), Olivia Washington (Margaret) and Latra A. Wilson (Dancer).

RELATED ARTICLE: Broadway’s Best 2019: Five Fun Facts

Why "Much Ado About Nothing" is Relevant Today

Learn how director Kenny Leon added a number of modern touches to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in hopes of communicating something both contemporary and universal.

Watch On Your Schedule:

This episode is currently available to stream on demand through Sept. 11, 2020.

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Credits:

A production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET in association with The Public Theater. Directed for television by David Horn. Produced by Mitch Owgang. GREAT PERFORMANCES is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.

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