Jitterbugging to the Bard this Christmas at 'Much Ado About Nothing'
The Big War is over, overseas, but the more ancient battle of the sexes continues as Benedick (Jason Romney) and Beatrice (Jessica Jorgensen) feud and eventually flirt in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Performances begin Dec. 2 at the Morgan Theatre at USU. / Photo courtesy of Utah State Theatre.
Utah State Theatre faculty member and director Kirstie Rosenfield says Utah State Theatre's next production, Much Ado About Nothing, is a one of the Bard's most merry plays. And she has added the perfect Christmas twist.
"It's definitely a belly laugh kind of comedy which we've set in the nostalgic period of the 1940s," said Rosenfield. "With the boys home for their first Christmas after the war, the play delightfully tests the bonds of love and hate between the sexes."
William Shakespeare's romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing opens Dec. 2.
The production plays Dec. 2-4, and 9-11 at 8 p.m. in the Morgan Theatre of the USU Chase Fine Arts Center on Utah State University's campus.
Tickets are now available at the Spectrum Ticket Office (435-797-0305), at the Information Desk of the Taggart Student Center (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), and at the door, although patrons are encouraged to arrive early for best seating. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for USU faculty/staff and senior citizens, and $5 for youth and non-USU students. USU students are admitted free with valid ID.
Utah State Theatre Flex-Pass season subscriptions are still available and offer a 35 percent savings off single ticket prices. Flex-Passes are $24 for adults, $21 for USU faculty/staff and senior citizens, and $18 for youth under 18 and non-USU students. The Flex-Pass contains four coupons to any Utah State Theatre Mainstage Production of choice and an additional coupon to any Conservatory Series production, thus eliminating the hassle of choosing dates in advance, said Utah State theatre arts department head Colin Johnson.
"It's not too late to take advantage of this great offer of savings and flexibility," said Johnson. "Now patrons can attend their favorite shows of choice more than once, invite friends and family, or reserve seats to see any of our remaining Mainstage productions."
Much Ado About Nothing tells the tale of the impetuous Claudio as he puts aside thoughts of war to romance the young Hero, while Beatrice and Benedick romance with a war of wit, said Rosenfield.
"Set in the 1940s, the production is filled with passion and humor in a time period still remembered with fondness," said Rosenfield.
"It's Shakespeare, it's Christmas, and we're dancing the jitterbug. What more could you ask for?" laughed Rosenfield.
Rosenfield, a native of London, England, received her doctorate in theatre directing and theatre history from Stanford University. Her research interests focus on Shakespeare in performance and on the historical and cultural contexts of renaissance drama.
"I am always interested in gender relationships in Shakespeare," said Rosenfield.
"This particular comedy fits well in a 1940s period because as the soldiers returned home from World War II, the men were faced with a very different reality from the one they left; women entered the work force, they were earning their own money, and leading changed lives," she concluded.
"Love is never easy in these circumstances and this is the catalyst for Shakespeare*s romantic comedy."
Set design for the production is by guest artist Ron Ranson, a professor of scenic design at the University of California, San Diego. His design credits include premieres of Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story in San Diego and Chicago, over a decade of work with the San Diego Repertory Company, as well as principal scenic designer for the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
"Although we've set this production in a more contempory time, the theme is universal," said Ranson. "This is an exciting piece because Shakespeare allows for these kinds of interpretations and creativeness within a time period."
"In working with Kirstie's concept, I've tried to blend a masculine, military world with a more feminine side. The intrique lies in working with a director that has this kind of creativity. The collaborative experience amongst the entire artistic team has been wonderful," said Ranson.
Carey B. Hanson is costume designer for the production. Completing her master of fine arts in costume design at USU this semester, Hanson boasts credits that include the popular UST children's production Ming Lee and the Magic Tree, Pools Paradise with the Old Lyric Repertory Company, and Wonderful Life: The Musical for Utah State Theatre Mainstage Productions. This summer she will be designing The Mikado for the Utah Festival Opera Company.
Starring as the classic feuding lovers in Much Ado are Jessica Jorgensen as Beatrice and Jason Romney as Benedick. Others in the cast are Summer Kelly as Hero, Patrick Rosier as Claudio, Mitch Berntson as Don Pedro, Wendi Hassan as Ursula, and Kristie Sessions as Margaret.
Specialty tours and lectures, as well as group tickets sales, may
be reserved by calling 435-797-1500. For tickets call the USU Spectrum
Ticket Office at 435-797-0305