Event Reviews
Desperate Measures

Desperate Measures

Directed by Roy Alan • Musical Direction by Chris Leavy

Starring Robert Justin Dresner and Hanna Laird

Winter Park Playhouse

Who says Shakespeare’s romances make no sense? This musical adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing not only captures the story line, it makes it much less confusing and adds some rip snorting tunes to push the action along.

Johnny Blood (Robert Justin) sits in jail hoping for either death or a pardon, and the pardoning process depends on a cranky Governor (Alexander Mrazec). He can be swayed, but that depends on innocent Susanna (Laird) giving up her vow of chastity. It’s a classic theatrical conundrum: chastity and misery or social exclusion and a lot of fun at night. We sing most of the plot, and and there’s a time lock on saving Johnny. The best laughs occur when the dancehall girl Bella Rose (Hanna McGinly Lemasters) passes herself off as the virginal novice nun, and everybody sings about it in the dark. Mrazec is a wonderful bad guy with extensive operatic experience, and he supports Brandon Morse as comic relief. Musical theater villains can be nasty, but it takes operatic training to achieve that level of true Shakespearean evil.

Supporting the sin is the locked up Johnny Blood. He has a prison cell that a infant could escape from, but he’s romancing through those iron bars just to keep in chapter. Sheriff Green (Charles Stevens) sees the law as a bit flexible, and in a sparsely populated territory hoping for statehood, a live sinner is better than a dead criminal.

This wonderful show wraps up the 20th anniversary of Winter Park Playhouse, and they are now faced with the existential issue of their landlord looking to sell out to a highrise or some other civic monstrosity. I suspect they will survive, maybe at their present location.

In either event, this is a rip snorting yee haw of an evening, a little different from the usual tuxedoed elegance of the Winter Park Playhouse oeuvre. Zip in quick, tickets are selling fast.

Winter Park Playhouse


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