Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Murphys Creek Theatre will present the William Shakespeare comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" Friday through July 30 at the Cornelia B. Stevenot Amphitheater at 2690 San Domingo Road in Murphys.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the play begins at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

This year's performances of Theatre Under the Stars will feature an optional catered gourmet buffet dinner, local wines and live music starting at 6:30 p.m.

"MCT is enhancing the entire experience this year, including an amphitheater facelift with new walkway and plants and creating the largest set we've had in our 19-year history," said Anthony DePage, MCT's new marketing director. "In addition, our Mirror Project protégés will be ushering and offering complimentary Adirondack chairs for the guests as they arrive and as the chairs are available."

The Mirror Project is a youth theater workshop who will perform "Much Ado About Nothing" July 28 and 29.

MCT's performance is set in the Italian Renaissance period, and real-life partners Misty Day and Jason McDowell play the lead roles of Beatrice and Benedick.

"These two make a great match for the lead characters," said Graham Green, MCT's artistic director. "They are both accomplished actors that have been with us for a number of years. We also have some great first timers including two Calaveras High School graduates this year.

"We haven't showcased this play since we opened our first performance at the amphitheater in 2000, and we just had to bring it back," he said. "We're also very excited about welcoming Anthony to MCT from Sacramento. He has a lot of great ideas that we're implementing this season."

Advance reservations are required for the full package, which costs $45 and includes dinner, a glass of wine or beverage and admission to the play. Reservations can be made by calling 728-8422 or visiting www.murphyscreek

Tickets are also available at Sustenance Books and Murphys Music.

Dessert will be served at intermission for $5, with proceeds benefiting MCT.

Admission to the play alone is $20.

Following "Much Ado About Nothing" will be "The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)" from Aug. 2 through Sept. 1.