warwick-"Shakespeare in the Orchard" returns to the Warwick Valley Winery for its 2nd summer of theatre under the stars in the winery's "orchard theatre." The memories of last July's presentation of -- the fairies, the beautiful costumes of the late-1800's era, the music, the incorporation of the pear trees next to the stage, the hounds, with the audience area surrounded by a border of torches n all created a magical atmosphere that the audience, as well as the cast and crew of The Illustrious Theatre Company, will long remember. Because of the success of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"last summer, this year's "Much Ado About Nothing" will be performed over three weekends, July 16-August 1. The Illustrious Theatre Company, the not-for-profit company in residence at the winery formed less than two years ago, has enjoyed a very auspicious beginning. The shows performed indoors during the fall, winter, and spring, including "Dancing at Lughnasa", "The Fantasticks", "Love Letters" as well as a number of new plays in development, all played to sold-out, or near sold-out, audiences. The company's founder and artistic director Mary Clifford attributes this success to a combination of the wonderful setting of the Warwick Valley Winery, the talent of the actors and production staff, and the region's desire for quality theatre. "We owe so much to the Grizzanti's (owners of the winery) who took a leap of faith in opening their doors to us," said Clifford. "We also believed that if we could provide a supportive atmosphere for the actors and production artists in which to work, we would attract the caliber of talent that audiences enjoy." The theatre company's commitment to quality has also led it to contract with a Broadway sound company, Sound Associates, one of the oldest and most respected production companies on Broadway, for this summer's outdoor production. Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's later comedies and unlike his earliest comedic works, the humor of Much Ado does not solely depend upon funny situations. While it shares some standard devices with those earlier plays (misperceptions, disguises, false reports), the comedy of Much Ado is derived from the characters themselves and the mores of the society in which they lived. The main plot of Much Ado revolves around obstacles to the union of two young lovers (Claudio and Hero); however, the play's sub-plot, the "merry war" of the sexes between Beatrice and Benedick, is considered by many to be much more interesting and entertaining by comparison. The Warwick Valley Winery is located at 114 Little York Road, Warwick, just off County Route 1 near Pine Island. Curtain time for Friday and Saturday is 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7:30. The orchard opens about one hour earlier for those who would like to enjoy a little picnic of the Warwick Valley Winery's menu or the special BBQ. "Bring your own lawn chair" is the preferred seating for most, although there will be a special area reserved for blankets. It is also recommended to bring a sweater or jacket, as it tends to get cool in the orchard after the sun goes down. Advance sale tickets, which are valid for any one performance, are available in advance at the winery, The Bookstore in Warwick, or at Healthy Thymes Market in Vernon, or may also be ordered by phone by calling 845-258-4858. Ticket prices are $13 regular and $10 for seniors and students; children under 7 are free. Shakespeare in the Orchard is made possible, in part, with funds from Orange County Tourism/Orange Arts and the County of Orange.