My Impressions From Much Ado About Nothing Play
The play seen was Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. The producing organizations were Northwest Vista College in association with The Magik Theatre. The show was directed by M. Mellissa Marlowe and was seen at the indoor theatre of Northwest Vista College. The audience wasn’t very large. There was only a handful of people.
Like many of Shakespeare’s comedies, Much Ado About Nothing is a story about love. The story tells of Hero, daughter of Leonato who falls in love with Claudio, one of Don Pedro’s men. It also tells of Beatrice, Hero’s cousin, and Benedick, another of Don Pedro’s men. Hero and Claudio instantly fall for each other and plan on their marriage. Beatrice and Benedick simply cannot stand each other. As the play progresses, Beatrice’s family and Benedick’s friends devise a plan to get Beatrice and Benedick to like each other. It actually ends up working and the two begin to fall in love. The night before Hero and Claudio are to be married, Don John (Don Pedro’s brother) lies to Claudio and Don Pedro and tells that Hero has been unfaithful to Claudio. Claudio and Don Pedro believe him. At the wedding, Claudio breaks Hero’s heart by calling the whole thing off and expressing why. Hero and her family knew it was a lie but Claudio wouldn’t listen. Don John flees town and Hero’s family fakes her death for the sake of her reputation. Eventually the men of the watch catch the men helping Don John and everything is explained to Claudio and Don Pedro. Claudio apologizes to Leonato and Leonato lets Claudio marry his “niece” who is actually Hero. Benedick finally expresses his love to Beatrice and the whole thing ends in love and marriage.
The play was performed on a proscenium stage. The staging of the play was well adapted for such short notice of having to be inside. The actor audience relationship was close considering how close the seats were to the stage. The stage was appropriate for this production because it was a simple production that could honestly be staged anywhere.
The set designers were Todd Deaver and Ty Mylnar. The set was made on short notice of having to be inside and really was only made of three things: a bench, a fountain, and a pole that was to be the tree. The only colors were grey and black. It was a very simplistic set. No parts of the set were changed through the show. The only “special effect” was the branches tape to the pole to let you know it was a tree. While the set was exceptionally bad, it added a whole new level of comedy to the play and was actually quite genius.
The lighting designers were also Todd Deaver and Ty Mylner. The lighting honestly just added the effect to be able to see what was happening. The lighting didn’t create a specific mood or anything because it was a simple constant. The lighting was evenly distributed on stage. The only time lighting changed was when it went dark to show a scene change other than that it remained a simple constant and wasn’t very impressive. The colors didn’t change, the brightness didn’t change, it was simply just there to let the audience see what was happening. Despite being lackluster, the lighting allowed the actors to show how powerful they were. It let them convey the emotions they needed to show and because of that alone I think this lighting was well suited to the play and its actors.
The sound designer was not names but the sound board operator was Cortni Booker. There was pre-show and intermission music. Despite not fitting the time era, it did fit the theme of love. There was also sound during each scene change and it helped enhance the love or in some cases the comedy. The actors were not miked. They simply projected their words. The sound was used effectively. It brought the play to another level. Especially the final song before the curtain call. It made the entire audience laugh and even Nathan Thurman who was playing Don Pedro laughed a bit.
The costume designer was M. Mellissa Marlowe. The time period of the costumes was hard to place. It seemed to have a but of a 1940’s feel from some of the male costumes, but that may have been from lack of tights. The costumes were definitely of an older style and, other than the language, were the only thing to tell time period from. Costumes seemed to simply tell who were related (either by kinship or friendship) and not much else. At one point, everyone had on a mask and despite the conflicts that could have come from using masks, the masks worked very well. The actors could still be heard and understood. Other than Don Pedro’s men removing their coats, the only costume change was when Hero changed into her white wedding dress which obviously shows purity. There was no real noticeable make up on anyone so make up was not really a factor. The costumes did fit the characters. Don Pedro’s men were all in the same attire. The women were all in dresses. Leonato was dressed with dignity. All in all it was well fitted.
The roles of all the actors were well suited. Two actors particularly stood out. Those two were Ty Mylnar who played the role of Benedick and Meredith Bell Alvarez who played Beatrice. These were the two that really stood out and made the show amazing. A third worth mentioning is Todd Deaver who played Dogberry. He was also very on point and bought out the comedy for everyone to understand. The actress playing Hero, Grace Lamberson, seemed very awkward in the beginning and it seemed to break the illusion a bit. However, as the show went on, Grace really broke through and showed that she is a wonderful actress. Her awkwardness in the beginning did not affect anyone else. They all kept the show flowing very nicely. All actors were understandable and were heard. Each voice very well suited each role. Don Pedro, played by Nathan Thurman, had a strong, masculine voice and Hero, Grace Lamberson, had a softer tone to her. Beatrice, played by Meredith Bell Alvarez was strongly spoken as were Angela Hoeffler and Sarah Ross who played Antonia and Margaret respectively. Don John, played by Alex Hoeffler, had a typical “villainous” voice that was low and slow. Each actor voiced their character very well. One specific problem with movement is that Ty Mylnar who played Benedick turned his back to the audience a couple of times and made hearing him a bit more difficult. He was still heard just not as clearly. Again with Ty Mylnar, he had to climb the “tree” and this skill was no walk in the park. The “tree” in this production was a tall, skinny pole. Ty managed to get himself up and down the pole with ease as well as create some wonderful comedy in the process. This added another level to the whole production and clearly made a great impact on the audience. Another actor who had to show strength was Maverick Saenz who played Verges. He managed to wheel in Todd Deaver on a giant wheel barrow and be able to maneuver around stage. This also added some comedy.
This entire production was a joy to watch. Everything was well coordinated. Despite the old English, the actors managed to communicate the story well. The teamwork was very evident. If the actors didn’t work together the entire play would have fallen apart from lack of adaptation to the indoor environment. The production doesn’t seem like it will have any modern day influence other than “do not trust what you’ve heard.” That is simply because it is an old play and if it hasn’t had a major impact yet, it probably will not have one at all. The primary purpose of this production it to show not everything that is heard is true and that before you judge someone get to know them. This fits everywhere in the world especially in he said she said situations. The most valuable part of this production is really the cast. Every role was wonderful and even if there was a stale start they managed to fix it.
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