Followers of PNC Renaissance theatre over the last few years may be disappointed to see no threat of violence in this year’s list of principal contributors—while there are certainly weapons in Much Ado, people manage to avoid using them—barely—this time around. Instead there are two important dance scenes with choreography from Ariane Dolan, faculty member at Chicago’s Lou Conte Dance Studio. Both dances are social, but the first is relatively slow and stately, in the style of the Renaissance pavane that would actually have been danced at the time. The final dance is one of general festivity, and the closest that the PNC players have lately come to the tradition of American musical theatre—and why not? Dolan herself frequently appears on musical theatre stages in the Chicago area—most recently in the hit Drury Lane Oakbrook production of Spamalot.
The original music for the dances, and also for the songs that Shakespeare included (without music) in the play, is by Chicago area composer Rob Clearfield, this time to be performed live by the composer (see http://www.myspace.com/robclearfield for information on his frequent performances, various ensembles, and five recent CD releases). As with the dance choreography, the Renaissance serves as a jumping-off point rather than a limitation on the breadth and character of the music. The setting of Sicily, with its particular traditions, and proximity to northern Africa, provide additional inspiration, as well as our actual setting in the American Midwest.