Much to see with fall play

TheatreMcLean takes on Much Ado About Nothing


Cast members pose in a 1920s-style car reminiscent of the setting of the show, which takes place in the roaring 20s.

TheatreMcLean is taking on the oldest rom-com in the books for its first production of the year, performing “Much Ado About Nothing,” a play from the late 16th century written by William Shakespeare.

“I always wanted to do [a] Shakespeare [play] because my first professional gig outside of college was Shakespeare,” TheatreMcLean director Philip Reid said.

A major part of what makes Shakespeare’s stories classic is the on-stage displays of affection. When choosing cast members, it was crucial to make sure the characters had a connection.

“We were really looking for [an] emotional bond, especially for two characters who were falling in love,” Reid said.

The romantic comedy will be performed from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20 and explores ideas of status and scandal. TheatreMcLean’s rendition provides a more modern take on the traditional show.

“[The original play] takes place in a town called Messina [but] we’re actually putting it in New York,” Reid said. “A big theme of it is rumors being used for good and evil.”

Some adjustments needed to take place to remove the Old English language barrier for the audience.

“We are making sure to use broad physicality and set and lighting to help convey the story,” Reid said. “We cut the play down to about an hour and 45 minutes.”

The show promises to be true to the 1920s time period, taking a Great Gatsby style of acting, fashion and set pieces.

“We are trying to go pretty big with the set,” Reid said. “[We are] building the back of a mansion, a garden on stage and a working fountain. There will be ambient noise and an eight-foot spiral staircase.”

The crew has worked relentlessly towards the final product, however, the process didn’t come easily.

“Most of our set is scraps from old plays, so we had to be creative,” senior technology director Alessandro Martinat said.

Crew members are not the only ones involved in creating the atmosphere. Cast members have been practicing their lines four times a week during rehearsals since September. The Old English script poses an unusual obstacle for the cast, who must attempt a new dialect. They often had to break it down, line by line, even finding translations and other adaptations of the play in order to perform to their best ability.

“[I’ve faced] challenges with the language Shakespeare uses,” said junior Nathan Bass, who plays the role of Count Claudio. “Along with that, the acting choices you would make based on the characters’ lines don’t come as easily, so you have to really dive into the meaning of everything that the character is saying.”

Actors were matched to their roles because they had played similar parts in the past or shared personality traits with their characters.

“[Count Claudio] sort of fits in the typecast that I’ve played for the last couple of years,” Bass said. “I was Prince Eric from Little Mermaid in seventh grade, and it’s sort of similar. It’s the aloof, oblivious romantic character.”

With a completely new spin on the Shakespearean play, Much Ado About Nothing is not a production you should miss.

“I have a really strong connection to [Shakespeare],” Reid said. “I really enjoy it. Shakespeare has stories that are timeless that a lot of students can access, and it’s accessible for students to get into the characters.”