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One of Shakespeare's comic masterworks, Much Ado About Nothing positively bristles with romance, pathos and humor. Beatrice would rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear his love. Benedick has sworn to live a bachelor. And yet, Cupid's arrow proves sharper than their capacious wits. The "merry war" of droll jibes and delicious practical jokes continues, exposing their own hearts and the fickle, fantastical, often-fierce nature of love. To aid Cupid, their friends and family conspire to bring them together through a few crafty deceits. Meanwhile, the amorous Claudio, Benedick's good friend, pursues the lovely Hero, Beatrice's young cousin. But a manipulative villain hatches a treacherous scheme to destroy the couple's happiness through a series of deceptions. Resident Artist Patricia M. Troxel stages the comedy, which is set in a 1830s California Mission courtyard. SCHEDULE Marian Theatre (August 11-26) Solvang Festival Theater (September 1-17)

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