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Kevin McDonald will bring his comedic talents to the Southern Shakespeare Festival this weekend

A large amphitheater sits in front of a cluster of buildings
Lydell Rawls
WFSU Public Media
All performances of "Much Ado About Nothing" will take place on the stage of the Capital City Amphitheater

The Southern Shakespeare Festival is back at Tallahassee’s Cascades Park this weekend, and there will be a traditional special guest star. And this guest is no stranger to fans of TV comedy. The star is Kevin McDonald of “Kids in the Hall” fame. He's also had roles in “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “That 70s Show” and a big-screen appearance in the 1996 “Kids in the Hall” cinematic spinoff, “Brain Candy.” He said he’d actually been tapped to do a Southern Shakespeare Festival before the pandemic put that happening on hold.

“They’d asked the Director James Bond, and he as a high school kid had grown up watching ‘Kids in the Hall.’ And he sort of thought I’d be perfect for it, that I’m funny in that way. Strangely enough, it was for another part. I was supposed to do it two years ago as Malvolio in ‘Twelfth Night.’”

It was an invitation that would remain open.

“So, they asked me again to do the role of Dogberry in ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”

Although an acknowledged master of contemporary comedy, McDonald admitted he needed to know a lot more about the people inhabiting Shakespeare’s world, and how that world might connect to the one we live in.

“And I got a ‘No Fear Shakespeare.’ The script would be on one side of the page and the next side of the page would explain it in English that I understood. First of all for Mavolio, I said, ‘This guy’s Frank Burns and the two guys who are teasing him are Hawkeye and Trapper John.’”

McDonald quickly realized that people don’t really change. Even between 1599 when Shakespeare finished writing ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and 2022.

“They all have the same wants and desires and the language is just a little prettier and more poetic.”

And for McDonald, the most daunting challenge is simply remembering all those lines.

“Now here at the house I’m staying at, I’m perfect on lines! This morning I was jogging and going over my lines perfect. But when I get on stage with the actors, there’s some nervousness that I’m not used to. I guess it’s a reverence for Shakespeare in a way. I can’t let him down!!! That’s what I’m thinking all the time. So as I get closer to the stage, sometimes the lines blank out. And I’m good at ad-libbing, but you can’t ad-lib Shakespeare!”

By the way, a local luminary, by the name of Leon Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna, will also be among those on stage with Kevin McDonald. Hanna will portray Sexton in the production. Southern Shakespeare Company’s free Shakespeare in the Park Festival will be held May 5th through the 8th on the Capital City Amphitheater stage at Cascades Park. There will also be performances from Renaissance-themed artists and the company’s junior acting troupe, “The Bardlings.” Also on the schedule, are readings from the 2022 Sonnet Contest winners, local vendors, food trucks and more.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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