Of all of Shakespeare's lovers, Much Ado About Nothing's Benedick and Beatrice may be the most fun to watch. They verbally joust, jest, spar and, Much Ado being a comedy, end up happily, romantically coupled at the end. This play, even with its Claudio-wronging-the-fair-Hero subplot, should be fun from start to finish.
It absolutely is in the hands of Intrepid Shakespeare Company, and Sean Yael-Cox and Shana Wride make a delightful Benedick and Beatrice. An outstanding supporting cast that includes Ruff Yeager (as Leonato), Matt Thompson (Don Pedro), Charles Evans Jr. (Claudio) and Tom Stephenson (hapless sheriff Dogberry) justifies all of the Bard's intended ado. Director Richard Baird thoughtfully employs both recorded and live music during the proceedings, set in Sicily in 1931, and has guided a large cast with aplomb on the small theater-in-the-round at Encinitas' Performing Arts Center at San Dieguito Academy. You're so close to the actors that you feel directly involved in the action. You almost expect Leonato to offer you a glass of wine. Alas, he doesn't.
Much Ado About Nothing runs through Aug. 17. $25-$35. intrepidshakespeare.com
There's much ado about guys stripping down to barely nada in The Full Monty, but then you knew that. This likable musical, which debuted 14 years ago at The Old Globe Theatre, can be enjoyed multiple times, and it's a snap to find folks who've done just that.
Currently, The Full Monty's at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad, under the direction of Manny Fernandes. This Monty gyrates to the choreography of Michael Mizerany, while an ensemble distinguished by Grant Rosen as hard-luck dad Jerry and Rovin Jay as surprisingly spry Horse revels in Terrence McNally and David Yazbek's story and songs—about half a dozen unlikely dance-and-strip boys. "Big Black Man," "Michael Jordan's Ball" and the duds-doffing finale "Let it Go" have the show's female characters howling—and more than a few in the audience, as well. Some of the cultural references are dated, and The Full Monty's ballads lean toward sappy, but there's no denying the PG-13 appeal.
It runs through Sept. 7. $24-$46. newvillagearts.org
The Odd Couple: The Neil Simon comedy that launched the wildly successful TV series, about a stuffy clean-freak who moves in with a slobby friend. Presented by Broadway Theatre, it opens Aug. 1 at Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido. broadwayvista.com
Mary Poppins: A musical about a mysterious flying nanny who arrives to help two out-of-control children and their unhappy parents. Through Aug. 2 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Bare: A Pop Opera: Life and love get complicated for the students at a Catholic boarding school. Through Aug. 3 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
The Orphan of Zhao: A reimagined version of an ancient Chinese play about a child who grows up only to learn about the awful tragedies that surrounded his infancy. Through Aug. 3 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Romance / Romance: This is a musical that's really two short plays—in Act 1 and Act 2—about (yep, you guessed it) romance, relating to each other only with one shared song. Through Aug. 3 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Ether Dome: The West Coast premiere of a play, based on true events in the 19th century, about two pioneers of surgical anesthesia—a trailblazing dentist and his ambitious student. Through Aug. 10 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
Into the Woods: A reinvented version of the musical that brings together classic fairy-tale characters returns to where it premiered in 1986. Through Aug. 10 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Jade Heart: A drama that jumps backward and forward in time to tell the story of a Chinese girl who was adopted as an infant by an American woman. Through Aug. 10 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. moxietheatre.com
Geeks: The Musical: A satirical take on the nerds who flock to Comic-Con. Presented by Pysphi Productions, it runs through Aug. 16 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. geeksmusicalsd.com
Much Ado About Nothing: Believe it or not, no one dies at the end of this, one of Shakespeare's classic comedies. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Aug. 16 at SDA Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com
Here Lies Jeremy Troy: In this farce, a painter hires a model to pose as his lawyer friend's wife when the lawyer's boss comes to dinner. Through Aug. 18 at PowPAC in Poway. powpac.org
Quartet: Three former opera singers, living at a home for aged musicians, are joined by the wife of one of them, and the four set out to perform one last concert. Through Aug. 24 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Pageant: Each show's audience picks a winner from six contestants in a beauty-and-talent competition in this musical comedy. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Aug. 31 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
The Full Monty: The stage version of the 1997 British film has six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers putting on a strip show to raise money—and their spirits. Through Sept. 7 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Les Miserables: In this classic musical, a poor Frenchman spends 19 years in prison after stealing a loaf of bread, only to escape and get caught up in a revolution under an assumed identity. Through Sept. 7 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org