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Premiere on Saturday, November 7 at 7 p.m.
On-demand streaming extended through Sunday, November 22 at 11:59 p.m. EST


Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare in a modern verse translation by Ranjit Bolt

Directed by Mark Brotherton
This performance is sponsored by John and Rita Lowndes

Two couples are brought together and whisked apart by the plotting of friends and enemies in this comedy of love and misunderstanding. Experience the drama and poetry of one of Shakespeare’s most famous works in a new light.

This production contains strong language, mature content, and sexual content.


Creative Team

Costume Designer:
Huaixiang Tan

Sound Designers:
Lindsay Putnam, Autumn Kreidler*

Video Design and Production:
Tim Brown, Rob Siler

Stage Manager: Megan Ianero*
Director: Mark Brotherton


CAST

BEATRICE: Athena Jean-Étienne
HERO: Alexa Comeau
MARGARET: Hayley Sanz
URSULA: Melissa Manrique
BENEDICK: Sterling Street
CLAUDIO: Christopher Hancock
DON PEDRO, U/S BENEDICK: Giuseppe Michael Pipicella
DON JOHN: Emily Williams
BORACHIO, U/S DON JOHN, U/S FRIAR FRANCIS: Drew Stark
CONRADE, U/S DON PEDRO, U/S BORACHIO: Andres Procel
LEONATO: Sammy Pontello
ANTONIO: Kent Miller Stowers
MESSENGER, U/S VERGES, U/S FIRST WATCHMAN: Jonathan Gardon
DOGBERRY: Will Sippel
VERGES, U/S CONRADE, U/S DOGBERRY, U/S SECOND WATCHMAN (SEACOAL), U/S SEXTON: Reese Abrahamoff
FIRST WATCHMAN, U/S CLAUDIO: Jameson Stobbe
SECOND WATCHMAN (SEACOAL), U/S MESSENGER: Paul Pelletier Jr.
FRIAR FRANCIS: Joseph Quintana
SEXTON, U/S LEONATO, U/S ANTONIO: Andre Braza
U/S BEATRICE: Tori Micaletti
U/S HERO: Lyssi Antrim
U/S MARGARET: Gabriella Montuoro
U/S URSULA: Alyssa Góngora

PRODUCTION TEAM

Assistant Stage Managers: Madalyn Nave*, Jordan Simon*
Dramaturg: Mia Strickland*
Assistant Director: Isa Jones*
Voice, Text and Speech Coach: Vivian Majkowski
Assistant Video Design and Production: Syd Deines*
Assistant Sound Designer: Ray Bromante*

*denotes UCF student. All cast members are UCF students.


THEATRE UCF PRODUCTION STAFF, FACULTY, AND ADVISORS

Director of the School of Performing Arts: Michael Wainstein
Artistic Director: Julia Listengarten
Director of Production: Bert Scott

Undergraduate Coordinator: Kristina Tollefson
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Huaixiang Tan
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Vandy Wood
Faculty Dramaturg/Advisor: Chloe Edmonson
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Tim Brown
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Rob Siler
Production Manager: Gary Brown
Technical Director: John Heil
Assistant Technical Director: Shannan Rath
Sound Designer/Advisor: Lindsay Putnam
Master Electrician: Edd Gordon
Costume Shop Manager/Designer/Advisor: Daniel Jones
Costume Shop Floor Supervisor: Robin Ankerich
Faculty Stage Management Advisor: Claudia Lynch

"For man is a giddy thing…" — William Shakespeare

— Mark Brotherton

William Shakespeare wrote Much Ado About Nothing around 1598. Since then, the play has been performed and adapted countless times, from stage productions set in India (starring Judi Dench and Donald Sinden, 1976) to Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film adaptation (starring Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton). While Much Ado has a much more diverse history now, its original casts were almost exclusively white men. In 2015, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned 36 playwrights to adapt Shakespeare’s plays into modern English through their Play On! project. Of these playwrights, over half were women and over half playwrights of color. The hope was that their new “translations” would inspire audiences and readers to revisit Shakespeare’s works with greater appreciation and understanding. It is with these same goals in mind that Theatre UCF presents a virtual reading of British playwright Ranjit Bolt’s English language translation of Much Ado, a refreshing take on Shakespeare’s original.

When looking at Theatre UCF’s Fall 2020 season as a whole, Much Ado About Nothing seems out of place. How does a 400 year-old romantic comedy fit into a season that otherwise explores and exposes the uncomfortable reality of the world we live in? However, if we closely examine Much Ado in context, we can unearth the play’s potential to serve as social commentary in 2020. Firstly, this show provides us the opportunity to question traditional gender roles and how they are still pervasive today. By using Ranjit Bolt’s modern translation rather than Shakespeare’s original text, the omnipresence of patriarchal values  stare us in the face even more obviously. While Beatrice is a unique female character, given her security in herself and her disregard for social norms, Much Ado is hardly a feminist piece. Director Mark Brotherton’s decision to gender-flip the role of Don John adds another layer of intersectionality and complicates a character that already harbors a lot of resentment and dissatisfaction - and perhaps provides a stronger dramatic motive for Don John’s feelings. From the extreme emphasis and importance of Hero’s virginity to the symbolism of Don John’s illegitimate existence, the differing standards to which society holds different groups of people are clear. This theme — how people with power treat people without it — is evident across Theatre UCF’s season, whether it is based on their race, their gender, or any other aspect of who they are.

Producing and translating Shakespeare in 2020 presents an opportunity to look within ourselves and our society and the many ways that humans are still very much the same. Love, gossip, pride, honor and the patriarchy play large roles in both our world and the world of the show. Although Much Ado’s comedic title refers to a big fuss over nothing, there is a lot to contemplate and reexamine through a 2020 lens. While Shakespeare might feel like ancient history, the themes of Much Ado About Nothing are far from a thing of the past.

— Mia Strickland

Reese Abrahamoff (Verges, U/S Conrade, U/S Dogberry, U/S Sexton, U/S Second Watchman (Seacoal)) is a freshman in the BFA Musical Theatre program. This is his Theatre UCF debut. Other theatre credits include Spring Awakening (Moritz) and Newsies (Crutchie). He will also be seen in Project Spotlight’s production of T19-EC (Max). Instagram: reese.abrahamoff

Lyssi Antrim (U/S Hero) is a sophomore in the BFA Acting program. She was last seen on the Theatre UCF stage in The Rover (Masquerader, u/s Florinda). Some of her other favorite credits include Pippin (Catherine), The Bald Soprano (Mrs. Smith), and The Drowsy Chaperone (Janet Van de Graaff). She also works in entertainment at Walt Disney World.

Andre Braza (Sexton, U/S Leonato, U/S Antonio) is a freshman in the MFA Acting program. He most recently performed in Celebrate TYA’s staged reading of El Viaje de Beatriz (Zeno, Izquierda).

Alexa Comeau (Hero) is a senior Musical Theatre student. She was previously in Theatre UCF’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Ensemble), Of Thee I Sing (Ensemble), Titanic: The Musical at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2019 (Mme Aubart) and the student-produced staged reading of new work Claire’s Johnny (Counselor, Swing) and Terence Lee’s MFA thesis project of Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peter Quince). She also makes magic as a performer at Walt Disney World.

Jonathan Gardon (Messenger, U/S Verges, U/S First Watchman) is a freshman in the BFA Acting program. This is his first Theatre UCF credit. He will be seen in Project Spotlight’s production of Escape from Reality (Carlos). Instagram: @jonathan.gardon

Alyssa Góngora (U/S Ursula) is a second-year BFA Acting student. She has previously performed with Theatre UCF in El Wiz (Burjita Buena) at Pegasus PlayLab 2019. Other theatre credits include Second Circle (Rachel Layton) in Project Spotlight’s one act play festival, Steel Magnolias (Shelby Eatenton), and Hamlet with nontraditional casting (Horatio). Instagram: @alyssa.gongora

Athena Jean-Étienne (Beatrice) is a junior in the BFA Musical Theatre program. She was previously in Theatre UCF productions of Blood at the Root (Raylynn), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Ensemble), Titanic: The Musical (Ensemble/S Caroline Neville), and Hot Mikado (U/S Katisha). Some of her favorite theatre credits include Into the Woods (The Witch), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Esmerelda).

Christopher Hancock (Claudio) is a junior in the BFA Acting program. Previous Theatre UCF credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Ensemble), Titanic: The Musical (Bellboy) and Of Mice and Men (Curly). He is also a part of the sketch comedy group Quadruple Stuffed Oreos.

Melissa Manrique (Ursula) is a third-year student in the BFA Acting program. This is her first mainstage production for Theatre UCF. Previous theatre credits include Claire’s Johnny (Claire) and Sheba (Lenaya). She also directs. Her most recent directing credit is T19-EC, a one-act produced by Project Spotlight.

Tori Micaletti (U/S Beatrice) is a first year in the MFA Acting program. Previous theatre credits include Heathers (Heather Macnamara), Junie B in Jingle Bells Batman Smells (May), A Peter Rabbit Tale (Flopsy/Nutkin) and Kiss Me Kate (Ensemble, U/S Lois).

Gabriella Montuoro (U/S Margaret) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. She was previously in Theatre UCF’s #GodHatesYou (Grace). Previous credits include Rumors (Chris), The Polar Express Train Ride (Steward 1) and Noises Off (Brooke Ashton).

Paul Pelletier Jr. (Second Watchman (Seacoal), U/S Messenger) is a sophomore in the Acting BFA program. His Theatre UCF debut was The Rover (Risky, U/S Don Antonio) and has done multiple shows with Project Spotlight, including The Graduation Party (Cory) and We’ll See (Kyle, Sam, Nathan, Evan). Instagram: @pablo_le_spam

Sammy Pontello (Leonato) is a fourth-year transfer student in the B.A. Theatre Studies program. Previous Theatre UCF credits include Urinetown (Cladwell), A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder (Ensemble, U/S D’Ysquith Family), #GodHatesYou (Rabbi Cohen) and Titanic: The Musical (Pitman/The Major/4th Man, U/S Ismay). Other credits include Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri with UCF Opera and The Arkansaw Bear with Celebrate TYA. Instagram: fantasticsamm

Giuseppe Michael Pipicella (Don Pedro, U/S Benedick) is in his first year of the MFA Acting program. His past credits include Diana of Dobson’s, Hedda Gabler and Doctor Faustus at UNCW; Billy Elliot, Fun Home, and The Laramie Project in Wilmington, NC; and The Children’s Hour at Rose Bruford in England.

Andres Procel (Conrade, U/S Don Pedro, U/S Borachio) is a first-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. Prior Theatre UCF credits include Blood at the Root (U/S Colin), The Rover (Officer, Masquerader, U/S Don Pedro, U/S Page to Belvile) and Sweat (U/S Stan).

Joseph Quintana (Friar Francis) is in the MFA Acting program and has collaborated under theatrical, operatic, and musical stages alike. Studying violin at an early age gave him the discipline to explore other mediums of entertainment. This musical background led to further development in the vocal arts and earned collaborations with El Paso Opera, Austin Opera, Chicago Lyric, and the Zach Theatre. He is often sought for new and devised work and innovative interpretations of classical and contemporary theatre.

Hayley Sanz (Margaret) is a junior in the BFA Musical Theatre program. She was last in Theatre UCF’s production of Hot Mikado (Swing). Other theatre credits include Titanic: The Musical (Kate Mullins/Madeleine Astor), Into the Woods (Little Red) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Olive).

Will Sippel (Dogberry) is a junior in the BFA Acting program. Previous roles at Theatre UCF include Urinetown (Mr. McQueen), #GodHatesYou (Joshua), Sweat (U/S Jason), and Of Mice and Men (U/S Candy). Will is also a member of Theatre UCF’s improv and sketch comedy troupe Quadruple Stuffed Oreos, and was the playwright of Project Spotlight’s The Underground Game.

Drew Stark (Borachio, U/S Don John, U/S Friar Francis) is a first-year in the MFA Acting program. He premiered in the Celebrate TYA production of El Viaje de Beatriz (Narrator). Professional credits include Young Frankenstein (Frederick), CATS (Rum Tum Tugger), The Diary of Anne Frank (Mr. van Daan) and Damn Yankees (Applegate). A fight director/choreographer, he was awarded two grants by the Mississippi Arts Commission. @drewstarkactor

Jameson William Stobbe (First Watchman, U/S Claudio) is a freshman in the BFA Musical Theatre program. This is his first Theatre UCF credit. Some of his favorite previous theatre credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Leaf Coneybear) and Noises Off! (Frederick Fellowes). He loves to create and edit funny videos with his friends that you can find on his Instagram, @jamesonstobbe.

Kent Miller Stowers (Antonio) is a senior in the BA Theatre Studies program. This is his debut in a Theatre UCF production, though many Knights may recognize him for his performance with the UCF a capella group the Crescendudes and his interactive performance for social change work as the “UCF Jedi.” A fan of theatre both musical and absurd, he plans to pursue teaching after graduation. Twitter and Facebook: @UCFJedi

Sterling Street (Benedick) is a first-year in the MFA Acting cohort. A few of his favorite professional theatre credits include: Into The Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince), Breaking Up is Hard to Do (Gabe Green), Peter and The Starcatcher (Cpt. Robert Falcon Scott), and It's a Wonderful Life (George Bailey). sterlingstreetactor.com

Emily Williams (Don John) is a third-year transfer in the BFA Acting program. Her previous work with Theatre UCF includes The Rover (Masquerader, U/S Lucetta), Sweat (U/S Tracey), and The Last Paving Stone (U/S Dolor, Rama, Hizzonor). She is also a member of the improv and sketch comedy group Quadruple Stuffed Oreos. Instagram: @EmilyWillilliams.

Megan Ianero (Stage Manager, she/her) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Stage Management program. This is her second production with Theatre UCF after working on Sweat last year. Her other professional credits include Incognito (Assistant Stage Manager), Wakey, Wakey (Assistant Stage Manager), Stalking (Stage Manager) and Dike (Assistant Stage Manager) at Urbanite Theatre.

Isa Jones (Assistant Director) is a junior double majoring in the BFA Acting and Digital Media programs. With Theatre UCF, she was part of Blood at the Root (Asha) this season. Other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream (Hermia) and Into the Woods (Little Red). She has directed Vagina Monologues for UCF Victim Services, We’ll See with Project Spotlight, and a short film, Mean It. Instagram: @isaajoness

Autumn Kreidler (Co-Sound Designer) is a third-year in the BFA Design and Technology program. Her previous Theatre UCF credits include Titanic: The Musical (A2), They Must Be Women Now! (Lighting and Sound Designer), #GodHatesYou (Assistant to the Sound Designer/Sound Board Operator), Water by the Spoonful (Assistant Master Electrician), and The Rover (Assistant Sound Designer).

Madalyn Nave (Assistant Stage Manager) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Stage Management program. In their first year they were the Production Assistant in Water By The Spoonful at Theatre UCF. Prior to UCF, they received their A.A. degree at Daytona State College, where they stage managed the college’s production of Avenue Q in spring of 2019. They also were the assistant stage manager for Beth Marshall Presents’ girl. at the Orlando Fringe Festival the summer of 2019.

Jordan Simon (Assistant Stage Manager) is a sophomore in the BFA Stage Management program. Her previous work with Theatre UCF includes Water by the Spoonful (Board Operator) and the UCF Celebrates the Arts 2019 festival (Production Assistant).

Mia Strickland (Dramaturg) is a senior in the B.A. Theatre Studies program. She has worked at Orlando REP, Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center, and Ruth Eckerd Hall. Following graduation she will be pursuing an M.A. in Arts Administration.

DRAMATURGY

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1598/1599: Shakespeare writes Much Ado About Nothing.

1613: The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform Much Ado About Nothing for Princess Elizabeth.

1776: Much Ado About Nothing is brought back to the stage after only eight productions in the 18th century when David Garrick plays Benedick at the Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago, IL. 

Pictured: David Garrick performing as Benedick.

1883: Henry Irving and Ellen Terry play Benedick and Beatrice at the Lyceum Theatre in London  The acting manager of the theater at the time was Dracula author Bram Stoker. 

Pictured: Press Release for the 1883 production. 

1976: Judi Dench and Donald Sinden star as Beatrice and Benedick in a production set in nineteenth century India done by the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Pictured: Production photo from the 1976 production.

1993: Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Imelda Staunton and Michael Keaton star in Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation. 

Pictured: Movie poster for Branagh’s film version. 

2011: David Tennant and Catherine Tate star in a production set in the 1980’s at Wyndham's Theatre in London. 

Pictured: Production photo from the 2011 production.

2012: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof and Nathan Filion star in Joss Whedon’s modernized film version.

Pictured: Still from Joss Whedon’s film adaptation.

2017: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre produces an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set during the Mexican Revolution, starring Matthew Needham and Beatriz Romilly.

Pictured: Promotional photo for the 2017 production.

2019: The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park presents Much Ado About Nothing with an all-black cast featuring Danielle Brooks and Chuck Cooper.

Pictured: Production photo from the 2019 production.

2020: Theatre UCF presents a modernized, virtual staged reading of Much Ado About Nothing, translated by Ranjit Bolt.


This translation of Much Ado About Nothing was commissioned by Play On Shakespeare and first given a reading at Classic Stage Company in New York City, June 2019, as part of a Play on Shakespeare marathon of translated plays. The translations were commissioned by The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Bill Rauch, Artistic Director; Cynthia Rider, Executive Director) and Play On Shakespeare (Lue Douthit, Artistic Director) with a grant from Dave and Ken Hitz.

Much Ado About Nothing is produced in association with the NEA Big Read – Central Florida 2021.