The theater can be a magical medium. Shakespeare himself proclaims plays and productions to be “the abstract and brief chronicles of the time” in his play Hamlet, and their overall historical significance as an expression of both art and perspective cannot be debated.
Each year the fire of showmanship is brought to this school in the form of a fall production, and this time around the cycle brought Shakespeare’s own Much Ado about Nothing to the auditorium stage. On Nov. 10, 11, 17 and 18, the theatre department put on the show at 7 p.m. each night.
The set design was laboriously worked on by the stage crew in the weeks leading up to the performances. It included patriotic nationalist backdrops and a fenced-off farm area that set the scene in an American USO in Italy. Scene changes were made by members of running crew, who were dressed in costume as army cadets to make those setting shifts seamlessly without the cover of darkness usually allowed to them in other shows.
Another unique aspect of the stage design was that the band, dubbed the ‘pit’ because of their usual placement under the stage during productions, was featured almost front and center under the lights on the stage. Having the band on the stage gave the setting a more festive American renaissance vibe, and added increased on stage activity to liven the stage further during musical numbers.
The original version of the production, as written by Shakespeare, is not supposed to have music, and the addition of musical numbers and the band served the purpose of reinforcing the time period and setting that made this production unique from the original. Musical numbers consisted of tunes definitive of the era, including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and You’re a Grand Old Flag, among others. The featured singers were a vocal trio under the character name ‘Balthasar,’ played by sophomore Aishlinn Kivlighn and juniors Abby Bhaktan and Caitlin Chang.
The lead acting roles were held down by seniors Becca Korn, who played Beatrice, and Max Ramsey, who played Benedict. Since they were the duo with the most lines, it was especially critical to the show’s success that they capture the meaning of Shakespeare’s often opaque dialect in their speeches. One thing that Ramsey keyed in on was modeling Shakespeare’s old-timey messages to make them relevant to current day. “The amazing thing about Shakespeare is that hundreds of years after it was written it can still be shifted and shaped into a new, fresh presentation,” Ramsey said.
Outside of the leads, it was an overall team effort by the cast to bring Shakespeare to life, and the rest of the acting roles were filled out by a large cast that had to dance, act and sing to complete the performance. “Being part of the ensemble has showed me that there is a lot more that goes into acting and setting an atmosphere on stage than just speaking lines,” freshman ensemble member Ameya Deshmukh said.