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Much Ado is Everything | Arts & Entertainment

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Longwood Theatre’s 1930s Chicago twist on the Shakespearian masterpiece Much Ado About Nothing is everything one should expect from a production and more. With spectacular performances from the actors and wonderful staging from the production crew, the most recent production put on by Longwood University’s Theater Department was a blast, full of laughter and sorrow, with a flair for the dramatic.

Praise must be given to all the performers for putting on such a wonderful show, but also must be given to four individual performers for the sheer effort and quality put into their performances. Isabelle O’Keefe gave a fantastic performance as the character Beatrice, forcing one to not only see but feel the range of emotions the character felt, from restrained surprise to pure unbridled anger. The first-year actor, Junior Franks, did a fantastic job, not only when portraying the lovably confident Don Pedro but also the high-pitched no-good Conrade. Longwood is ready to see how far he is going to go. Then there’s Frank Anthony Cardella’s performance as Claudio, which was not only great overall but sent chills down one’s spine when he sang his sorrowful song near the end of the production. Lastly, Natalie Masaitis for their performance as both the devilish Don John and the lovable Dogberry.

Praise must also be given out to the production crew for lighting, sound, costumes, choreography, and set design. The costumes, which were designed and managed by Leslie Cook, were specially picked for the theme of 1930s Chicago. The scenic design was managed by Scott C. Chapman and the stage was managed by Phoenix Turner. Both aspects were terrific. The lighting and sound, managed by Bailey Hobbs and Brandon Cobb respectively, were always on point. The choreography, which was managed by Kelly Malonewas, was phenomenal and deserves special recognition for the remarkable dance sequences throughout the production, Dudley. Lastly, praise must be given to the director of the production, Bruce Speas, where without him, none of the wonderful performances would have been possible.

The only real criticism one would have of the production would be the distinct confusion between locations and act changes. Except for the scene at the church, there would be no distinct set changes to portray that the characters are in different locations. For example, the characters would switch from the Grand Hall in the house of Leonato to Leonato’s Orchard, but there would be no real change in the set to portray the change in locations. This made it incredibly hard to keep track of the acts and scenes to recognize the change. Having a set change that could help distinguish between locations, like the window used for the church scene, would help those who are not as familiar with Shakespeare’s work to understand the scene change.

Except for the small problems, the Longwood production of Much Ado About Nothing is truly everything one would want out of a college production and much more. Congratulations should be given to all performers and staff who worked on the production and allowed such an experience to flourish. Longwood’s next theater production, Crimes of the Heart, will take the stage February 15th to the 19th and is highly anticipated. Much Ado really was everything.

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