by Madeleine Macora, Joelle Singer Jensen
The GHS theatre department recently closed its production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which was performed from October 6-13 in the Black Box Theatre. The play takes place in Messina, Italy, where the audience is first introduced to Leonora (Melanie Valencia ‘20, Jordyn Libow ‘21), her daughter, Hero (Lily Bartels ‘21, Rachel Kessler ‘21) and her niece, Beatrice (Hadley Delany ‘19 , Natalie Clifford ‘19), who are awaiting the arrival of Don Pedro (Ralph Bologna ‘21, Joshua Winston ‘21 ) and his men. After Don Pedro’s arrival in Messina, Hero begins to fall for the young count Claudio (Oliver White ‘19 , William Frankle ‘21 ), while her cousin becomes entranced with the quick-witted Bennedick (Hayden Sherr ‘19 , Ethan Thomas ‘19 ). However, both their love lives are greatly entangled as Lady Gianna stirs up trouble (Ellerie Brust ‘20 , Sophie Robertson ‘21) and the characters spread false rumors. As to be expected from the renowned playwright, Shakespeare crafts a clever concoction of drama and laughter, which, when combined with the talent of GHS students, creates a unique and memorable experience for the audience. An audience member commented how the “…show is a great example of how Shakespeare can connect to modern audiences with both comedy and drama.”
One of the most interesting aspects of the show was director Mr. Kohn’s decision to set the 16th century play in the pre-Civil War era. Mr. Kohn stated in the playbill that “The pre-Civil War south evokes a society which appears gracious and charming, but has underlying moral shortcomings.” This clever use of setting allowed the audience to see the more somber complexities of the play and the flaws in the characters, which are usually hidden in comedy. One instance of this is shown when Claudio accuses the virgin Hero of being unfaithful and besmirches her reputation at the altar on their wedding day, all due to a lie spawned from Lady Gianna. When Hero faints, Leonora, Beatrice and others deceive Claudio by tricking him into thinking Hero has died of a broken heart, sending him into a spiral of remorse. As Mr. Kohn explained in the playbill, “Like most of Shakespeare’s works, [Much Ado About Nothing] has depth and deliberate lack of surface simplicity.” The literary depth and comical moments of the show forms an enjoyable acting experience. One cast member stated that “Much Ado About Nothing is just that: A whole lotta people making a big fuss out of nothing, in the most entertaining way possible.” Thus, the end product was a unique adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing that set a high standard for the coming theatre productions and will not be easily forgotten by the audience.
Photo by the Director