Monday, March 24, 2014


Jeanine Serralles as Bea and David Wilson Barnes as Ben in These Paper Bullets! Photo © Joan Marcus, 2014.

Take a Shakespearean comedy with two pair of only slightly star-crossed lovers, a rock band that intentionally resembles the Beatles, add in a mod fashionista clothing queen as well as a real reigning monarch, set the whole kit and kaboodle in London in 1964 and you have a fun, fantastic and fabulous entertainment feast.  It's like having a giant banana split with all your favorite flavors of ice cream, like pistachio, raspberry and coffee, and you savor every bite but you can't wait for the next big spoonful.

Imagine York Street's University Theatre is now Carnaby Street, London and let the extraordinary cast of the Yale Repertory Theatre present for your astonishing pleasure "These Paper Bullets! a Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing,' " adapted by Rolin Jones, with songs by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and directed by Jackson Gay until Saturday, April 5.

Cunningly clever and creative, it would earn an A++ on the Show Business School's annual report card.  Part rock concert, part work of the Bard, it startles, surprises and amazes at every turn as Cupid's arrows fly hither and yon and plots of revenge boil over.  Does true friendship exist?  Is faithfulness a vanishing trait?  Can you trust your own feelings to be real or must you rely on others to know your own heart?  Let your inhibitions fly free and simply enjoy the fun.

At the musical heart of the action are the rock group The Quartos, who are all the rage of their female fans.  Led by Ben (David Wilson Barnes), they include Claude (Bryan Fenkart), Balth (Lucas Papaelias), Pedro (James Barry) and their manager Anton (James Lloyd Reynolds).  Don Best (Adam O'Byrne) was once part of the group as drummer but he has been replaced and is now a virtual errand boy.  His desire to bring the group down is soon evident.

In the world of mod fashion, Bea (Jeanine Serralles) reigns supreme.  With her girls, as both models and friends, Higgy (Ariana Venturi), Ulcie (Keira Naughton) and Frida (Ceci Fernandez), Bea rules her clothing kingdom.  She has a long standing verbal war of words with Ben and the two protest their mutual and monumental disdain for each other and for love and marriage...until their friends trick them into revealing their true feelings.

Bea and Ben are in extreme contrast to Higgy and Claude who are so smitten with each other they can barely utter a syllable.  Their marriage is quickly arranged by Higgy's dad Leo (Stephen DeRosa), a wondrous affair in his hotel The Messina, until Don Best manipulates the menu.  With his cohorts in crime Boris (Andrew Musselman) and Colin (Brian McManamon), Don Best is anything but a best man.  It takes the sterling but bumbling efforts  of New Scotland Yard to save the day, led by Mr. Barry (Greg Stuhr) and his Three Stooges-like assistants (Brad Heberlee, Anthony Manna and Jabari Brisport).
Recording it all for the public at large, concerned citizens eager to know, is Paulina Noble (Liz Wisan) of the BBC.  Even the Queen (Christopher Geary) pops by for a royal wave.

For tickets ($20-98), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m.  Three 10:30 a.m. shows for high school students are also planned. Shows are at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.

Anything can happen and everything does in this over-the-top hilarious tribute to the Bard as he trips the light fantastic down Carnaby Street. Don't miss the opportunity to stroll along with him.

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