Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night, not to Messina, but to James Madison High School in its production of Much Ado About Nothing!
Written by Shakespeare in the early 1600s, Much Ado About Nothing has sparked many adaptations and retellings, the most notable being a 1993 film adaptation directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Set in Messina, Italy, the story tells the romantic evolution of two couples. Don Pedro is trying to bring the bantering Beatrice and Benedick together, while his jealous half-brother tries to ruin Claudio and Hero's romance. In a mess of schemes, weddings and trials, this comedic cast of characters comes together to create what can only be described as much ado about nothing.
As Benedick, the thrilling Jonah Uffelman kept all eyes on him. A master of physical comedy, Uffelman always made sure to throw himself into every movement. It didn't matter if Benedick was strutting around the dance floor, attempting to conceal himself behind a fountain or delivering ridiculous soliloquies. Uffelman was captivating throughout the entire performance, even during the most serious scenes.
Perfectly complementing all that Uffelman brought to the stage was Mary Ulses' portrayal of Beatrice. Whether she was plucking hats off the heads of the ensemble or collapsing into the arms of her cousin Hero, Ulses' playful performance gave an extra spark of life to everyone around her.
Fortune Picker, Ryann Monacella and Erika Nielsen brought a wave of hilarity to the stage as bumbling and uncoordinated watchmen. The trio's overly exaggerated movements and body language left the audience in stitches in every scene they stole.
The props crew, led by Kieran Warner, created time-period accurate pieces, shown through the type of lantern used and the coloring and wear on the paper. Each prop allowed the ensemble members to deepen their characters through how it was used on stage. From a simple plate clutched by a newly in love Beatrice to Benedick's apple, the props crew made sure the actors could strengthen each performance.
The set (Nic Crews, Alex Lundquist and Carissa Ma) was one of the most impressive aspects of the show. Inspired by 16th-century stone houses, the set felt truly lived in. From the separated block of the stage to the benches around the working fountain, the set provided lots of room to tell the story. With every stone shaded and highlighted, it created a delightfully detailed setting.
Taking inspiration from the Renaissance time period, the costume department (Emma Burke, Mikenna Corcoran and Ciara Stefanik) made sure that each actor was dressed in a color scheme that fits his or her character. The femininity and purity of Hero (Katie Hindin) were shown through the bright pinks and whites of her dresses. Opposing shades of red and blue displayed the conflict between Don Pedro (Luke Murphy) and Don John (Erik Bilawski), while the ensemble wore neutral tones to separate themselves from the main characters.
Hair and makeup, led by Caroline Pinnock, stood out, most notably, in the old age makeup they applied on several actors. The makeup department showed its skill, especially when it came to Dogberry (Zoey Miller), using scar wax to create a pointed, exaggerated nose and special effects makeup for the illusion of missing teeth. No character would be complete without the personal touches the hair and makeup crew provided.
The cast and crew of James Madison High School's Much Ado About Nothing brought lots of love and even more laughter, proving that their show was worth all the fuss!