‘Much Ado About Nothing’ opens theatre season

Elisabeth Moore

As the lights dimmed above the crowd in Russell Miller Theatre Friday night, an announcer asked for audience members to put away their electronic devices and enjoy the show: William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Students auditioned and received their parts during the 2016 spring semester according to David Young, director of “Much Ado About Nothing” and head of WKU’s department of theatre and dance.

“We have had really fun rehearsals,” Young said. “It’s great to watch the students figure out some of the big comedic moments. With Shakespeare, it takes a while to make sure you get the language and to understand that there is an idea behind every sentence, and then to be able to articulate that idea is a whole other skill.”

A total of 31 cast members participated in the production, including two children with minor parts. Around 70 crew members helped behind the scenes, though only 15 are required to be present at performances.

The cast used the Arden Shakespeare edition of Shakespeare’s original script, which includes modern-spelling and more descriptive details the actors and actresses use to act out their parts. Along with the script, Young gave the performers additional background information about the play he thought they should know.

“Essentially, what is happening is, some soldiers have returned from war and they have been very successful,” Young said. “They have come back to their small town and since now the war is over, everybody is looking for love.”

At the spring auditions, performers weren’t able to specify which role they wanted to audition for.

Nashville sophomore Baylee Morton played the role of Hero, and said she was ecstatic to be given the part.

“I love Shakespeare,” Morton said. “Most people don’t know, but I love Shakespeare, and I think it’s because he is so witty and clever. I guess I like the challenge of knowing what he is saying and the inside jokes of Shakespeare’s language.”

Maysville sophomore Conner Keef plays Don Jon, the villain and character he was hoping to be chosen for. A musical theatre major, Keef was cast as Don Pedro in another production of “Much Ado About Nothing” and said he had been hoping for the chance to play a different role this time around.

“It has been a lot of fun,” Keef said. “It has given me a lot of freedom to explore and try new things to see what works and what doesn’t work. It’s hard sometimes, but then if you get the words right, minus the inflection and minus the singsong that comes with it, it’s pretty easy.”

“It is nice and we have a really good group of people in the cast,” Travis Ryan, a sophomore from Louisville playing Dogberry, said. “Shakespeare can be a lot of fun for actors, and it is different, so it can make the play more unique than other plays.”

Students Celia Allen and Melissa Menetrey each attended the showing Friday night. In the same moment, Allen and Menetrey said they loved the show.

“I’ve never enjoyed Shakespeare this much,” Menetrey said. “I have a high school friend who played Benedick, and it was awesome.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” performances will continue in the Russell Miller Theatre in the Fine Arts Center through Sept. 27.

Reporter Elisabeth Moore can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emoore938.