OSWEGO — The SUNY Oswego theatre department will present Shakespeare’s dark comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” previewing at 8 p.m. April 19, and opening at 8 p.m. April 20 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.
The play, focused on a lovers’ trap and first performed at the end of the 16th century, also will run 8 p.m. April 21 and 28, with a matinee at 2 p.m. April 29. It offers colorful characters and comic misunderstandings, using the vehicle of “noting” — gossip, rumor and eavesdropping — to make things tricky, at times cruel, for the protagonists.
SUNY Oswego theatre alumnus Gary Izzo, class of 1980, will direct.
Izzo, one of the first directors to experiment with interactive theater, said the student actors in “Much Ado About Nothing” would take a traditional Shakespearean approach, including period costumes of the 1600s.
“I’m not too terribly keen on updating Shakespeare to contemporary,” said Izzo, who has worked with the Sterling Renaissance Festival and Walt Disney World’s Streetosphere. “I think it’s very difficult to find the exact theme where you can translate the cultural elements and character relationships accurately. I’ve seen it done well, but I’ve seen it done very poorly.”
“Much Ado About Nothing” follows two pairs of lovers — Benedick (Dylan Duffy) and Beatrice (Jessica Quindlen), Claudio (Thomas Oliverio) and Hero (Marti Flicker) — whose emotions the villainous Don John (Brien Bianchi) tampers with.
The play centers on the “merry war” of words between Benedick and Beatrice, who are destined for each other, although they hide it with their scorn for love, marriage and each other.
On the other hand, Claudio and Hero are madly in love and set a date to get married. But with the devious tactics of Don John, who wants to disrupt everyone’s happiness, things quickly get complicated.
“The title, ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ on one hand means a lot of trouble about nothing,” Izzo said. “But in Shakespeare’s day, the word nothing in Shakespeare’s dialect is pronounced ‘noting,’ which means taking note of someone, watching other people from a distance and basing what they see on preconceived assumptions.”
The play is based on an Italian tale and set in the Italian Renaissance. The production crew includes theatre department faculty members Kitty Macey as costume designer and Tim Baumgartner as set and lighting designer.
Other faculty and staff crew members include producer Jessica Hester, costume shop supervisor Judy McCabe, sound designer Steve Shull, properties mentor Jessica Culligan and production manager/technical director Sean Culligan.
Student crew members include Bianchi as Izzo’s assistant director, stage manager Rebecca McCarthy, assistant stage managers Kellie McMenemon and Rebeca Schretzlmeir, dramaturg Robbie Kristel, assistant technical director Meshari Alnouri, associate lighting designer Jaime Ruggio, assistant set designer Brianna Colombo, associate set designer Melissa Schreyer, assistant costume designers Liz Redmond and Julia Kulaya and assistant lighting designer Bryson Frederick.
Other student cast members include Jamine Lamar Coley as Don Pedro, John Ryan Limer-Nies as Leonato, Jesse Lessner as Antonio, Jacob Luria as Dogberry, Matthew Kirkman as Verges and Thomas Kline as Friar Francis.
Tickets for “Much Ado About Nothing” are available at all SUNY Oswego box office outlets, online at http://tickets.oswego.edu and by phone at 312-2141.
Prices are $15 for the general public ($12 for seniors over age 62, SUNY Oswego faculty and staff and $7 for SUNY Oswego students).
All preview-night tickets are $5.
Parking is free in campus lots for those attending these performances.