In 1982, former Royal Shakespeare Company Artisic Director, Terry Hands brought a wildly successful production of Much Ado About Nothing to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The play enjoyed such high praise that it went on to tour France, Germany, Spain, Austria and North America before transferring for a hearty run as a double bill with Cyrano de Bergerac at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.
As well as directing the production, Hands also designed the lighting of the piece, earning himself a Tony Award nomination for his efforts. Further creative team members included scenic design by Ralph Koltai, costume by Alexander Reid and music by Mel Rodnon. The show also featured an original score by Nigel Hess.
Hands’ piece played with the notion of multiple reflections. Avoiding a traditional representation of the court of Messina, Hands used glass to surround the stage as well as many glassy surfaces in the piece such as the floor of the stage itself and a large drawing of a tree etched in glass.
The production also used real fencing, with Ian McKay acting as fencing consultant.
Leonato – Edward Jewesbury
Antonio – Jeffery Dench
Don Pedro – Derek Godfrey (Ken Bones for Broadway run)
Claudio – Robert O’Mahoney
Benedick – Derek Jacobi
Beatrice – Sinead Cusack
Balthasar – Phillip Denis (Robert Craig for Broadway run)
Hero – Clare Byam Shaw
Don John – John Carlisle
George Seacoal – David Shaw – Parker
Hugh Oatcake – Albie Woodington
Margret – Alexandara Brook
Messenger – George Parsons
Borachio – Geoffrey Freshwater
Conrade – Richard Clifford
Dogberry – Christopher Benjamin
Boy – Rhys Hopkins
Verges – Jimmy Gardner
Ursula – Katy Behean ( Cathy Finlay for Broadway run)
Friar Francis – George Parsons
Watch – Christopher Bowen, Simon Clark,
Awards and Critical reception
The New York Times called Terry Hands’ production “stylish,” and praised Nigel Hess’s score as “exceptionally beautiful” and also called Jacobi and Cusack “close to perfection.”
The production received seven Tony Award Nominationsin 1985, winning one as Best Actor in a Play went to Derek Jacobi.