Why was Michael Moore at the Public Theater’s opening night benefit perf of “Much Ado About Nothing” Tuesday? He wasn’t literally there, mind you, but the spirit of the summer’s press-dominating polemicist was definitely in the air. “I think it has a little something to say,” helmer David Esbjornson said of his Shakespeare in the Park production.
Playgoers eyed posters in the Delacorte Theater entrances proclaiming, “We will glorify war — the world’s only hygiene,” a nod to the Futurist movement in pre-Mussolini Sicily, where this “Much Ado” is set. At one point Brian Murray, as the malaprop-prone constable Dogberry, licks his hand before fixing his hair, recalling Paul Wolfowitz‘s infamous comb-slobbering scene in Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
“I got it from that,” confirmed Murray at the afterparty across the pond on the Belvedere Castle patio.
Others attending: co-stars Jimmy Smits, Kristen Johnston, Dominic Chianese, Sean Patrick Thomas and Sam and Elizabeth Waterston (father-daughter in both “Much Ado” and real life), plus Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nilo Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Bobby Cannavale, Kathy Najimy, Peter Jennings, Rose McGowan, Caroline Rhea, Jeffrey Wright, Rosie Perez and Michael Bloomberg.