Much Ado About Nothing is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies and has been widely performed over the past 400+ years. Below are some of the most notable past productions of Much Ado About Nothing in performance history
1599 – Shakespeare’s original production
Not much is known about the exact details of this show, but it is though Shakespeare first presented Much Ado About Nothing in 1599
1748 – David Garrick’s First Benedick
Again, a great deal of information about this production is missing but it is said that the character of Benedick was a firm favourite among celebrated British Actor, David Garrick, who performed the role several times between 1748-1776.
Beloved British Actor, John Gielgud, performed the role of Benedick on Broadway. Like David Garrick, Gielgud loved the role and played it countless times between 1931-1959. The Broadway production also starred Margret Leighton, Peggy Ashcroft and Diana Wynyarn.
The longest running production of Much Ado About Nothing ran on Broadway between 1972 and 1973 at the Winter Garden Theatre. The show starred Sam Waterstone, Kathleen Widdoes and Bernard Hughes.
This popular production, directed by Terry Hands, ran at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1982 starring Sinead Cusack and Derek Jacobi. The show was so successful it transferred to New York, winning Jacobi a Tony Award.
1989 Strand Theatre Production starring Felicity Kendall and Elijah Moshinsky Alan Bates
Elijah Moshinsky’s playful production starred Felicity Kendal as Beatrice and Alan Bates as Benedick. The production was praised for Mark Thompson’s Mondrian-influenced lighting design in bright primary colours.
In 1993, Mark Rylance won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Play for his portrayal as Benedick in Matthew Warchus’ Much Ado About Nothing.
Actor and director, Kenneth Branagh, brought one of the most commerically successful Shakespeare adaptations to the silver screen. The production starred Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale and Branagh himself.
Tamsin Greig won her first Laurence Olivier Award for the RSC’s production of Much Ado, directed by Marianne Elliot.
2007 National Theatre Production
Zoë Wannamaker and Simon Russell Beale starred in Nicholas Hytner’s adaptation of Much Ado at the National Theatre in London.
Catherine Tate and David Tennant rekindled their on screen chemistry as they starred as on/off lovers in this production, directed by Josie Rourke.
2011 Shakespeare’s Globe production
Directed by Mike Britton, this production of Much Ado About Nothing was part of the 2011 Shakespeare’s Globe season.
2012 RSC and West End Production
in 2012 Meera Syal played Beatrice opposite Paul Bhattacharjee as Benedick in an Indian setting. The show was directed by Iqbal Khan for the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. The production then transferred to the West End for a short run.
In 2013, Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones were the oldest couple to portray Beatrice and Benedick in a production directed by Mark Rylance.